75% of apprentice-hiring small businesses report productivity boost

Small businesses also highlight improved staff morale, an image boost and a lower wage bill as a result of hiring apprentices

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75% of small and medium businesses that employ apprentices have reported increased productivity, according to research from the Department for Education (DfE).

With an estimated 202,000 apprentices set to be recruited over the next 12 months, the research – which comes ahead of National Apprentice Week from March 6-10 – surveyed a range of apprentice-hiring small businesses to highlight the benefits they can bring.

72% of respondents said employing an apprentice had improved product or service quality, with improved staff morale (71%), better staff retention (68%), the introduction of fresh ideas (64%), an improved overall image (64%), the ability to attract quality staff (59%) and a lower overall wage bill (37%) also listed as benefits.

96% of those surveyed reported at least one of the above benefits to employing an apprentice.

24,000 businesses that currently employ an apprentice in the private sector claimed that hiring an apprentice had helped them to win business. However, the report also said that 75% of small businesses remain to be convinced about the benefits of an apprentice.

Robert Halfon, apprenticeships and skills minister, said: “We know that apprenticeships give people of all ages and all backgrounds a ladder of opportunity to get the skills they need. That is why more than 90% of apprentices stay in employment after their scheme ends.

“It’s fantastic to see that so many small businesses are taking advantage of the programme, ensuring they get the workforce they need but we must do more to encourage businesses to come on board and hire more apprentices.”

Mike Cherry, chair of the Federation of Small Business (FSB), commented: “Small firms understand that apprenticeships make good business sense. Having apprentices can be a real asset for many smaller businesses and are vital to the future of the UK economy.”

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