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UK engineer firms leading the way in apprentice recruitment

More than 50% of engineering firms in the UK have taken on an apprentice in the last two years a new survey by the Manufacturing Technologies Association and Close Brothers Asset Finance, has found.

The survey looked across a range of sectors, including food and drink, retail, recruitment and services, finding that the only other sector employing apprentices at a similar rate to engineering firms was construction.

The survey also found that the biggest barrier to employing an apprentice was not the Apprenticeship Levy, but the lack of suitable candidates and problems with training providers.

Steve Gee, CEO of Close Brothers Asset Finance's Industrial Equipment Division, said: “Over the past four years Close Brothers Asset Finance, working in partnership with the MTA and University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre, have funded the training of 60 apprentices. It is very encouraging to see the results of this survey and we are proud of the part we have played.”

Under the scheme, Close Brothers Asset Finance has helped pay for apprentices to learn their skills at the University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre, funding half of the new recruits’ wages during the first year and a quarter in the second. This has meant participating SMEs have not had to bear the full cost of employing the apprentices until they are making a positive contribution to their business. The first intake was in September 2015 and the scheme is still going strong today.

James Selka, CEO of the Manufacturing Technologies Association, said: “It is fantastic to see that engineering firms are leading the way in terms of recruiting the next generation of engineers. At the MTA we are committed to helping our members take on fresh talent by offering training grants and loans to help ease the financial burden of taking on new members of the team.”

He added: “The work we have done alongside Close Brothers Asset Finance and the University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre has so far given 60 apprentices the best possible start to their careers. We will continue to champion our sector and the opportunities it provides.”

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a Lightspeed survey conducted in April 2019 on behalf of the MTA and Close Brothers Asset Finance. The survey canvassed the opinion of 900 SME owners across the UK and Ireland and across several industries on a range of issues affecting their businesses.