SME looking to hire apprentices rather than graduates

July 22, 2014

According to research from business development consultancy Sandler Training three out of four small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) believe that a degree is worth less than it was 10 years ago when it comes to getting a job.

The company surveyed 1,000 SME companies with 250 or fewer staff to get an insight into the views of small businesses’ views on youth unemployment as the economy regains its strength. SME companies employ 58% of the private-sector workforce. The research found academic qualifications are losing out to practical skills which can deliver more substantial effects on a business.

Shaun Thomson, chief executive of Sandler Training UK said: ‘Following the economic downturn it really has been an employers’ market. Employers have been far more focused on what skills new recruits can bring to the table. This is especially with small businesses, when a poor recruit can have a bigger impact. Unfortunately this onus on skills has been on ‘hard skills’ – which is why we believe the value of a degree is falling.’

Mr Thomson said that he hoped SMEs’ focus would change as the economy picks up with soft skills regaining recognition.

‘In our experience, successful recruitment has much more correlation with candidates’ soft skills – which young people can demonstrate through the diligence and commitment that goes hand in hand-in-hand with achieving good exam results and degrees’ said Mr Thomson.

It was also found graduates are slightly less likely to be employed than apprentices, with SMEs splitting their preference for filing entry-level positions 51% to 49% in favour of those taking a vocational training path.

This is unlikely to remain the case with companies surveyed saying they would be hiring 20% more apprentices in five years’ time, compared to the 7% increase in graduates.

This shows the value apprenticeships bring to business through high quality training and experience.

For more information please visit:
Apprentice Eye
The Telegraph
Sandler Training