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Published: 4th November 2021

Benefits & Overcoming Barriers of Apprenticeships

What are the main benefits and barriers of apprenticeships & do apprenticeships provide a return on investment?

We have broken down the findings of recent research surveying 1,000 HR decision makers across the UK.

Apprenticeship declines over the past few years are well-documented, therefore, it comes as no surprise that this research was conducted against a backdrop of decreasing starts. However, the findings reveal that the overall outlook is positive, and it appears as though the tide is starting to turn. Between February and April 2021, there were an estimated 72,600 starts in England. This falls just short of pre-pandemic levels. June 2021, saw apprenticeship vacancies reach their highest ever recorded volume.

The key benefits of apprenticeships highlighted by those surveyed were

  1. Address skills shortages in my business (47% – this was an even stronger benefit in the manufacturing sector 62%)
  2.  Provide value for money (42%)
  3. Offer a cost-effective labour source (39%)
  4. Improve diversity within my business (33%)
  5. Improve the public’s perception of my business (26%)

Other benefits included things like improved employee moral, better service delivery, higher levels of client satisfaction and allowing employers to develop future talent.

98 per cent of employers which currently employ apprentices experienced additional benefits to their business.

On top of the benefits that apprentices offer, the research set out to provide and answer to whether apprentices provide a return on investment from a financial point of view. The research showed that even with the lowest estimated productive contribution of an apprentice, an employer gains £2,496 after wages, training cost and additional expenses are taken into account. This net benefit is testament to apprentices’ productive output during time spent on the job. Also, this net benefit only relates to an apprentice during their training. In instances where apprentices remain with their employer following completion of their apprenticeship there would be further accrual of net benefits from a business perspective.

The research shows that apprenticeships meet skills shortages and provide value for money, but it also looked at the barriers to hiring apprentices. The main barriers are listed below.

  1. Time required to manage apprentices (38%)
  2. Identifying the right apprenticeship programme (23%)
  3. Administration time (22%)
  4. Additional training costs (20%)
  5. Too bureaucratic / too much effort

Other barriers included recruitment costs and the apprenticeship levy.

If you are looking to hire an apprentice we have a range of services for employers to help overcome these barriers. Our outsourced employment service includes

  • Providing a dedicated account manager to arrange the right training and ensure the employees progression in line with the companies requirements, reducing the time needed to manage an apprentice.
  • Employing apprentices on our headcount taking away the additional time spent on HR and Admin responsibilities (also effective at overcoming headcount issues)
  • Expert advice along the way to cut through the bureaucracy and help reduce the effort it takes to hire an apprentice
  • Advice on apprenticeship levy
  • A completely free recruitment service

We offer a completely free consultation meeting where we can discuss your apprenticeship needs in full. Contact [email protected] for more info.

Click here to see the full details of the research in the St Martins Group Report.


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Cogent Skills is sector based, working with companies from across the Science and Technology Industries embracing Life Sciences, Industrial Sciences and Nuclear.
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