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Apprentices can help drive productivity for SMEs

13th December 2013 By Kay Allen in Help young people into work

Nearly all of Trading for Good members do something to help young people into work, offering placements and mentoring but less than 30% take on apprentices. 

This mirrors the government ‘Holt Review of Apprenticeships’ which found that just 10% of SMEs employed apprentices. see The Holt Review

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.

The Holt review concluded the process was complicated with conflicting advice with too many training providers. Not enough small employers’ actually know about the scheme and many believe it is the preserve of the larger employers who offer more traditional work.

What are Apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships are paid jobs that involve training in and out of the workplace, leading to a nationally recognised qualification. 

Employees get to earn while they learn and obtain real skills and experience in the workplace. Employers can use apprenticeships to train new and existing employees and get funding to do so. 

If you have less than 250 employees, The National Apprenticeship Service has a Small Business Team to help. Most apprenticeships are delivered through working with a training provider to ensure high quality training. 

There are over 200 different types of opportunity including business administration, creative media, I.T as well as the more traditional engineering courses.

Why it is good for business

Taking on an apprentice is good for a small business because research has shown that 86% of young people stay with in employment after they finish their training with 67% staying with the same employer. This helps reduce staff retention costs, which can be a high cost burden for a SME. Young people provide fresh ideas and can help tackle new business pressures such as getting the most from social media. They can help drive morale and it enhances local reputation.

Many talented young people are choosing the apprenticeship route to qualification’s because of the increasing costs of going to University. Securing an apprentice helps plan for future skills shortages and builds a succession plan for a small business.

With the costs of employment also increasing help is on hand. An apprenticeship grant of £1,500 per apprentice is available for small businesses taking on an apprentice aged between 16 to 24.

Apprentices also make fantastic ambassadors for your business, promoting the value that employing local brings.

And the return rate for the wider economy is impressive: the National Audit Office estimates that for every £1 invested in an apprentice, the economy gets £18 back.

Kay Allen
About the Author

Kay Allen

Kay is the Founding Director of Trading for Good. She is a consultant on Responsible Business advising clients including Fujitsu, who won Responsible Business of the year with BITC in 2015. Previously a Non-Executive Director DWP Pension Disability and Carers Service, Kay is a well networked, high profile ambassador for equality and social action with a proven track record as an outstanding innovator in the private and public sector.

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