Where small businesses can get help finding apprentices

Many small businesses are keen to take on young apprentices. Here's where to get help.

Engineering apprentice Kelly Baird © Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Almost a quarter of small companies employ an apprentice

Engineering apprentice Kelly Baird © Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The Apprenticeship Levy should be a boon for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Introduced in 2017, the levy requires all employers with a wage bill of £3m or more to pay into a fund financing the cost of apprenticeship schemes; these firms then reclaim government vouchers that help them meet the costs of their own apprenticeship initiatives.

Firms with lower wage bills are not required to pay the levy but can still claim funding for apprentices often as much as 95% of their costs.

Unfortunately, the levy hasn't matched expectations. Many SMEs are now reluctant to run apprenticeship schemes because accessing funds from the levy is so complicated.

Nor do the finances of the scheme stack up. According to the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, which represents apprenticeship scheme providers, one in four of its members have had to turn away SMEs looking for funding to take on apprentices.

The problem is that the sums claimed by large levy-paying employers do not leave enough to finance the ambitions of smaller non-levy-paying businesses.

The funding crunch comes at a difficult time. The Department for Education is shortly due to begin a £500,000 campaign to promote the take-up of apprenticeships by SMEs. Ministers insist they are committed to providing additional funding for apprentices, and to reforming the Apprenticeship Levy to simplify it.

That would be welcomed by SMEs. The Federation of Small Businesses has found that 24% its members already employed at least one while a similar number were keen to do so.

It's worth pointing out that many small businesses are still making great use of apprentices and benefiting from reforms to the system, with the fees charged when they take on apprentices having been halved last year. Most SMEs applying for funding from providers are succeeding.

Where to find help

Selecting the right training partner is crucial. These providers are responsible for delivering the training apprentices will receive and also play a vital role in advertising vacancies and recruitment. Some can also take on all the administration involved in running an apprenticeship scheme.

Recommended

How to help your business cope with rising energy costs
Small business

How to help your business cope with rising energy costs

With rising energy costs putting cost pressures on the country's businesses, the best way to keep the lights on is to make sure you’re turning them of…
18 Jan 2022
How to fight cyber-crime in your small business
Small business

How to fight cyber-crime in your small business

There are five key areas for owners of small businesses to focus on when fending off digital attacks.
30 Dec 2021
How to free up extra Christmas cash for your business
Small business

How to free up extra Christmas cash for your business

Too few small businesses keep unnecessary costs to an absolute minimum. Here are six ideas that might pay for a Christmas bonus.
14 Dec 2021
How your business can win the race to recruit new staff
Small business

How your business can win the race to recruit new staff

Smaller companies can’t offer huge cash incentives for new staff, but they can still compete effectively for labour. David Prosser explains how.
1 Dec 2021

Most Popular

Ask for a pay rise – everyone else is
Inflation

Ask for a pay rise – everyone else is

As inflation bites and the labour market remains tight, many of the nation's employees are asking for a pay rise. Merryn Somerset Webb explains why yo…
17 Jan 2022
US inflation is at its highest since 1982. Why aren’t markets panicking?
Inflation

US inflation is at its highest since 1982. Why aren’t markets panicking?

US inflation is at 7% – the last time it was this high interest rates were at 14%. But instead of panicking, markets just shrugged. John Stepek explai…
13 Jan 2022
Interest rates might rise faster than expected – what does that mean for your money?
Global Economy

Interest rates might rise faster than expected – what does that mean for your money?

The idea that the US Federal Reserve could raise interest rates much earlier than anticipated has upset the markets. John Stepek explains why, and wha…
6 Jan 2022