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Bosses sceptical about apprenticeships

Mike Randall, CEO of Close Brothers Asset Finance

UK bosses are split on the merits of apprenticeships, with over half less inclined to offer on-the-job training, according to results from the latest Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly survey of small and medium sized businesses from across the UK.

Of that figure, 16 per cent claimed to be put off hiring an apprentice as they fear it will be too expensive, 35 per cent were concerned about a lack of time to devote to training and a further seven per cent weren’t convinced that there are enough suitable candidates.

This is despite evidence from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) that says apprenticeship schemes will contribute £3.4 billion per year to the economy over the next decade.

CEO of Close Brothers Asset Finance, Mike Randall said: "There are understandable reasons why some businesses are hesitant to invest their time and money into training an apprentice, as the benefits of apprenticeship schemes are not widely documented.

"However, there is some evidence to suggest that they are worth the investment.

"Apprenticeships can reduce the time and expense of recruiting, while positively contributing to the overall performance of a business by offering an increase in competitiveness, a broadened talent pool and improved productivity.”

The Close Brothers Business Barometer findings show that recruiting adequately skilled staff proves to be an ongoing challenge for the vast majority of employers, with 55 per cent of firms surveyed revealing that they have had difficulty recruiting in the past.

"Apprenticeships can go some way to addressing this problem by establishing a better fit between the skills possessed by the apprentice and those required by the company," added Mr Randall.

"Often apprentices are motivated to produce a higher standard of work to meet their assessment targets, and feel a loyalty to the company that hired them because a clear career path is often outlined from the offset. Staff retention rates are usually improved as a result."

Of the 44 per cent of companies polled that are currently participating in an apprenticeship scheme, one in four plan to offer their apprentices permanent posts upon completion of their training.