SMEs turn to apprenticeships to fill talent void

Finding the right people for the job is not always easy, but a study suggests that many SMEs are turning to apprenticeship schemes to fill the talent void.

The 2014 Albion Ventures Growth Report suggests that a quarter of SMEs are developing their own schemes to fill job shortages.

In the report, a number of challenges and opportunities facing SMEs are noted and approximately one third feel they lack experience in key areas of their business.

One in ten feels a lack of management expertise is a barrier to growth, while a further 9% said not having business mentoring damages growth potential.

Firms also revealed that they are more likely to focus their attentions and training resources on skilled staff as they can then perform multiple roles within a business.

This is shown by 39% of businesses being committed to training skilled staff, compared to 27% who train semi-skilled staff and just 14% who focus on low-skilled and low-paid staff.

Having people with the necessary skills can be an essential part of company expansion, a factor recognised by more than half of the SMEs questioned.

Retaining these staff members can prove to be difficult, especially if a larger business comes hunting for the best staff.

While losing one member of staff could be managed, losing several key personnel at once could severely damage a business.

In the worst cases, it could require business restructuring in order to keep trading, placing a great emphasis on keeping staff.

One approach is to use apprenticeship schemes where people are trained on the job – this develops close ties between the individual and the company and can mean they are less likely to leave.

The report suggests that 23% of SMEs are considering launching an apprentice scheme to add to the 12% that already do so.

This reduces staff costs, while also boosting the Corporate Social Responsibility credentials of a firm – two leading factors for wanting such schemes.

If the right skills can be developed then there are many benefits for the businesses in setting up apprenticeships, especially as far as finances are concerned.


By Phil Smith


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