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Apprentice confusion still an issue

New FSB research carried out in the Greater Manchester & Cheshire region has shown many small businesses remain confused by apprenticeships and would need to seek external advice and help to recruit one.

The study sought to ascertain employer awareness around the current apprenticeship system, identify common barriers to recruitment, and gauge attitudes towards apprentices and the value small firms place on them.

The research showed 63% of small firms in this region would need outside help before employing an apprentice. Nearly a quarter (23%) admitted they were ‘clueless’, and 40% said while they had some idea, would still require help. In addition, 64% of survey respondents admitted they were unclear around apprentice funding – which was also cited as the biggest barrier to recruiting an apprentice (56%).

Finding a training provider was the second most common obstacle (43%) to taking on an apprentice, while finding and recruiting suitable candidates (39%) was third. Other common barriers were around knowing how much to pay, and finding a suitable course appropriate to the job.

Almost a third (31%) all of the latter were issues they’d need help with. FSB Regional Chairman for Manchester & North Cheshire, Simon Edmondson, said: “There’s still far too much confusion among small firms when it comes to apprenticeships – and that’s a massive fail.

Two thirds of firms admit they’d need help before recruiting an apprentice, and Catch 22 is most of them have little idea of where to access that help. “Until businesses can be confident they aren’t getting it wrong, then successful apprentice training will be stuck in the slow lane.

This will hopefully be something Andy Burnham as the new Metro Mayor for Greater Manchester will tackle going forward.” On a more positive note, the survey showed 52% of businesses said they’d ‘definitely’ employ an apprentice if they had a suitable vacancy, and a further 42% said they’d ‘consider’ it.

Only six per cent said they wouldn’t consider it. Also, just 11% of respondents agreed with the statement: ‘apprenticeships are for those not bright enough for university’.