[pullquote]The business benefits are being lost under the perception apprenticeships are time intensive and shrouded in red tape" – Steve Morris, learndirect[/pullquote]But bringing young people into Fujitsu also fulfilled a very important business need: the IT sector suffers from a lack of skilled science, technology, engineering and maths graduates, so getting more school leavers on board meant the company could build up its talent pipeline for the future. Now around a quarter of Fujitsu’s apprentices are between 16 and 18, and they are among the most engaged workers in the company. However, despite success stories such as this, employers are still reticent about investing in young people, particularly straight from school. In Personnel Today and learndirect’s recent research into recruiting young people, almost nine in 10 employers said they felt school leavers were not ready for the world of work at 16, and 70% had no plans to take a young person on straight from school this summer. Of that 70%, four-fifths said this was because they didn’t have any suitable vacancies or opportunities. One of the biggest barriers, according to Steve Morris, business development director at learndirect, is a “lack of information and clarity” around the support available and the benefits that apprenticeships can bring. “For small and medium-sized businesses in particular, the business benefits are being lost under the perception apprenticeships are time intensive and shrouded in red tape,” he says.