Apprentices can help fill skills gap, according to research

Apprentices can help fill skills gap, according to research

Over 80 per cent of UK SMEs believe apprentices are the solution to solving the UK’s skills gap, according to the Close Brothers Business Barometer.

The quarterly report found businesses believe providing more apprenticeships can help them gain access to skilled workers, with one in five having their own apprenticeship scheme in place.


The report surveys over 900 UK and ROI SME owners and senior managers across a variety of sectors and regions. It found that over 75 per cent of business owners agree apprenticeships are a valuable alternative to university. Over 45 per cent said they’d take part in an apprenticeship scheme if assistance was available from the government or private sector.

The research showed regional differences when it comes to businesses offering apprenticeships. Businesses in the West Midlands showed a long history of using apprenticeships to ensure succession planning. Firms in the South East may be more likely to search for outside assistance when it comes to planning their own apprenticeship schemes.


Close Brothers Asset Finance CEO Neil Davies commented: “The number of school leavers choosing apprenticeships over university has risen by over 20 per cent since 2010.

“For the industries we serve, this is a positive development and for many, one of the main attractions of apprenticeships is the opportunity to earn while they learn. Because the schemes are linked to businesses, in many cases it means they are able to walk into a full-time job after they have finished.”

However, he added that apprenticeships do not necessarily close the door on university, stating that there is no reason why someone cannot do both. Higher-level apprenticeships can lead to a foundation degree, which means going to university at a later stage doesn’t have to be off the cards.

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