Apprenticeships may be hard to organise, but they deliver return on investment

Four in 10 employers still find apprenticeships difficult to access but most firms believe the training schemes deliver a positive return on investment, research has shown.

A survey of more than 500 business leaders by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) found that 40% of employers felt apprenticeships were hard to access, while just under half (49%) said the lack of funding for over 25-year-olds was a barrier to further uptake of apprenticeships.

But despite these obstacles, 79% of employers said apprentices quickly delivered a positive return on investment, while a further 84% appreciated that hiring apprentices would improve their reputations as employers.

More than two thirds (69%) of respondents said apprenticeships were an effective way of developing management skills, 92% saying that teamwork and interpersonal skills were improved by apprenticeship programmes and 84% believing problem-solving and analytical thinking skills were enhanced through the schemes.

The figures were published to coincide with Apprenticeship Week which is designed to raise the profile of the apprenticeship model and encourage more employers to start offering opportunities.

Ruth Spellman, chief executive of the CMI, said: “The onus is on government, professional bodies and employers to find a way of knocking down barriers that prevent further uptake.”

She added that perceptions of apprenticeships were “out-dated” and employers had to embrace the method to help address a leadership skills gap in the UK.

“British business cannot afford to carry on like this because without the right skills in place, we face a leadership vacuum,” she said.

“We urgently need to increase our investment in skills development and it is welcome news that employers see management apprentices as a cost-effective way of doing this.”

The number of management apprenticeships has more than doubled since 2005, figures from the Management Standards Centre show.

The CMI’s survey also revealed that employers felt apprenticeships had a positive impact on young people’s attitudes to work.

When asked which personal attributes apprentices are most likely to exhibit, 91% said self-confidence, 88% said receptiveness to training and 80% said a good attendance record.

Almost three-quarters also said labour turnover could be reduced by offering apprenticeship programmes, with 71% reporting that apprentices demonstrated high levels of loyalty.

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