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ApprenticeshipA new study has revealed that just one year after the apprenticeship levy was introduced in England, small firms have become increasingly positive about the value that apprenticeships can bring to their workforce.

According to the study which was carried out by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), following the introduction of the levy in April 2017, the overwhelming majority of small business owners (96%) say they are likely to take on more apprentices within the next two years.

Most of those questioned agreed on the advantages of taking on this type of worker and 97% said it had proved to be good value for money. An impressive 90% said the apprentices they’ve hired have helped to boost productivity and 63% said they are more suited to the skills their business needs compared to other job candidates.

Small and medium enterprises also showed a preference for running apprenticeships over hiring university graduates, with 55% preferring to recruit apprentices and 32% favouring graduates.

Sue Husband, director of the National Apprenticeship Service commented:

“We wholeheartedly believe that apprenticeships work – not just for apprentices, but for businesses of all shapes and sizes, across all industries, sectors and job roles, and for people of all ages.”

Even among small businesses that had never taken on an apprentice, 71% said they were currently planning to take some on – but 39% felt there were barriers holding them back.

Around a third (29%) said the cost of starting an apprenticeship was the main hurdle, followed by 27% claiming they can’t obtain funding and 15% not knowing where to start a scheme.

 

What is the apprenticeship levy and is my business entitled to it?

Despite small businesses’ enthusiasm for apprenticeships, many could be missing out on vital funding as figures show that less than half (45%) have accessed the funds that are available to them.

SMEs with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million can use the levy, which involves paying 0.5% of their payroll into a central pot which is then used to fund the training of apprentices.

Rob Alder, head of business development at the AAT, said:

“Although there have been some negative comments on the impact of the apprenticeships reforms, our research shows there are many positives in training an apprentice and it is good to see that reflected in the SME market.”

He continued:

“Our research shows that England’s small businesses hugely endorse apprentices within their own firms and value the benefits apprentices can bring to them. Those who have taken on apprentices are happy with them, and even those who haven’t yet taken any on are making plans to do so.”

To find out if you’re one of the small and medium enterprises eligible to receive funding from the apprenticeship levy, please feel free to contact PKB Accountants and we will be more than happy to help.

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