Why 92% of Sole Traders Have Never Hired an Apprentice

Why 92% of Sole Traders Have Never Hired an Apprentice

10th Dec 2018

92% of sole traders have never hired an apprentice, a survey by JTL has discovered.


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Complicated application processes and uncertainty surrounding the benefits were found to be the main reasons why sole traders and small business haven’t been hiring apprentices.

JTL, a not-for-profit charity that connects apprentices with work in electrical, plumbing, heating and ventilation roles, carried out the survey as the number of apprenticeships being hired has fallen over the past year. They were looking for the reasons why small and medium sized businesses might choose not to hire an apprentice so that they can provide them with more detailed advice and guidance.

The survey also surfaced concerns over the amount of time apprentices would have to spend training ‘off the job’, with 33% of those that took the survey looking for clearer understanding.

It’s interesting to note that the companies and sole traders who have hired an apprentice were likely to hire again next year. Hiring an apprentice is clearly beneficial to the companies that do.

Speaking about the survey, JTL Chief Executive, Jon Graham said: “The recent changes to funding for apprenticeships has inevitably had more effect on smaller companies where the resources for understanding the changes and administration are less than for a major business with dedicated departments to look after these matters. We were convinced – and are even more so now – that small companies will resist the opportunity to employ apprentices if it is perceived as just another costly issue to worry about.”

Why Aren’t Sole Traders Hiring Apprentices?

It’s thought that the recent changes to apprenticeship funding has had a big effect on smaller companies which don’t have the resources and time to fully understand what hiring an apprentice involves. Respondents to the survey expressed the following concerns:

  • 61% think that the costs and funding should be clearer
  • 52% want better understanding of the support available after hiring an apprentice
  • 33% were looking for a clearer understanding of how much time is spent ‘off the job’ to train
  • 28% needed to know how long an apprenticeship lasts.

Following their survey, JTL said: “We were convinced – and are even more so now – that small companies will resist the opportunity to employ apprentices if it is perceived as just another costly issue to worry about.”

Why Hire an Apprentice?

Apprentices are aged 16 or older and looking to gain valuable experience in a specific role that they have a passion for. The apprentice isn’t the only one who will benefit from the experience, your company as a whole can too:

  • Grow your existing team at a lower cost to hiring a full-time employee
  • Build for the future by developing industry talent
  • Take some of the workload off your existing employees
  • You could be entitled to funding to support apprentice training.

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