In a comment on Government aspirations for tackling youth unemployment, the CIPD reports that nearly half of employers (45%) have not employed apprentices in the past three years, with two-thirds (68%) of these saying that they consider apprenticeships inappropriate for their organisation.

According to the CIPD 2011 Learning and Talent Development Survey, published last week, only a third (35%) of the 500 employers surveyed say they plan to recruit apprenticeships this year.

A larger proportion say they do not intend to recruit apprenticeships this year (43%) and over one-fifth (22%) say that they have no set plans in an uncertain economic climate, with widely fluctuating staffing requirements. The survey was conducted before the Budget on 23 March announced greater funding for apprenticeships. The findings show that this funding injection will be greatly appreciated by organisations struggling through site closures, recruitment freezes and budget restraints, with half (48%) of the respondents reporting in January that more generous public funding would encourage their organisation to create new or additional places.

Over the past three years, apprenticeships have been most common in manufacturing and production, with 68% employing apprentices (compared to 35% in private sector services, 53% in the public sector and 46% in the third sector). Most apprentices recruited are at the lower levels, however, with nearly two-thirds of organisations (63%) that recruit apprentices doing so at Level 2 (GCSE). Two-fifths (42%) recruit at Level 3 (A level) while less than one-fifth (17%) recruit at higher levels (6 and above).

Katerina Rudiger, skills policy adviser, CIPD, said:
“The CIPD welcomes the additional funding for apprenticeships introduced by the Government. Our research shows that this will encourage firms to offer apprenticeships. The fact that many employers think apprentices are not right for their organisation, however, demonstrates that funding alone is not enough.

Demand for apprentices in England has always been very low, especially when compared internationally. The Government therefore needs to do more to make the business case to employers, highlighting the benefits apprentices can bring to organisations, such as relevant skills, loyalty, higher quality and greater productivity.

“Apprenticeship provision needs to improve, by increasing the volume and quality of relevant training and also through employers providing clear progression routes. The real return from apprenticeships is only achieved where the employer is willing to provide career progression beyond the initial apprenticeship.”