By Daniel Hunter

A leading business lawyer is urging ambitious small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to consider apprenticeship schemes as a way to develop a skilled and loyal workforce and equip themselves for future expansion.

Steve Beahan, a partner and member of Irwin Mitchell’s small to medium sized enterprise (SME) group, believes too many smaller firms still consider that apprenticeship schemes are just for larger organisations. As a result, he believes SMEs are missing out on opportunities to train and secure people with skills which are often not available on the open market.

“Demand for apprenticeship places is as high as ever and I’m sure this year many young people than ever getting their A-level results will be keen to explore opportunities within an area of business that interests them," Steve Beahan said.

"Apprenticeship schemes have had a renaissance in recent years and it is important that SMEs consider it as an option. It can be cost effective and an excellent way in which to develop a skilled and loyal workforce.

“The Government is keen to support businesses in this area and earlier this year it extended a scheme for SMEs which offers cash incentives to help small businesses to take on young apprentices. In addition to increasing the timeframe, it now allows SMEs to claim for up to ten people.”

Last August the Government also announced a raft of measures aimed at encouraging smaller firms to offer more apprenticeship schemes. These included the provision of better information and increased availability of training for apprentices along with an investigation into how SMEs can get a greater say in developing appropriate training provision. The announcement also included plans for making it simpler for SMEs to access funding in order to get apprenticeship schemes off the ground.

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, over 1 million apprentices have trained in the last 10 years. Currently there are 255,000 16-24 year olds currently on apprenticeship programmes across 160 vocational areas.
Recent research has found that, 54% of young people in England want to do an apprenticeship if the opportunity was available. Another survey found that employers find apprentices 15% more employable than young people with other qualifications.

Join us on
Follow @freshbusiness