Peter and Anne King of DPI Yearbooks have supported the lives of many young adults working with schools nationally to give pupils valuable employability skills. When they recently took on a young apprentice to expand their own business, they faced several obstacles.
“We have wanted to take on an apprentice for the past 5 years, but until now, have been totally unable to get any coherent information about what we need to do, what compliance is required and how we should manage the processes of recruitment, training, etc.”
Such are the challenges facing SMEs and micro businesses in the current climate that many have become reluctant to do so. Peter explained, “Sadly, our experience is common; most of the micro businesses we have spoken to are either reluctant, or plain antagonistic, in taking on an apprentice, especially a 16 year old. Given that well over 90% of businesses are micro businesses and that, as a sector, we are responsible for approaching 70% of the private-sector workforce, we are worried and saddened with this situation. In rural areas, micro businesses are of significant importance in providing employment.”
Both Peter and Anne have a wealth of experience between them in the 25 years they have been in education. Following the recent press surrounding the Richards Report, it is clear that the next generation of the UK workforce need to be able to demonstrate that they have the transferable skills relevant to adapt to new challenges in the work place. Problem-solving and team work, as well as creative and lateral thinking skills will support those with the right attitude and people skills to excel in their new roles.
None more so than in micro or small businesses where they will be required to adapt to new skills quickly. 70% of jobs, including apprenticeships, are given to those known or recommended to the employer.
When asked about the implications of this on the work they have been doing with schools, Anne when on to say,“ From our extensive experience with other SME, micro businesses and educational business links, it is clear that few learners or teachers have any knowledge of, or relationship with, the micro business sector.”
Many of those leaving for the workplace in the coming years will be facing the repercussions of the austerity measures set out by the government and will be competing in a market place where job security will be uncertain and the ability to adapt and add value to a small organisation will be of paramount importance.
“Although evidence indicates that around 70% of jobs, including apprenticeships, are given to those known or recommended to the employer, this impacts both upon the number of apprenticeships being offered and a general perception that school leavers are inadequately prepared for work “ Peter went on to say. Over 80% of small businesses also agree with this according to a poll conducted in 2012 for Rural Business Research, the largest of its kind in the UK.
The solution, as indicated in the Richards report, will need a greater awareness of how apprentices can add value to an organisation, as well as a greater flexibility in the way this next generation of employees will develop work based skills with their employers. Greater synergy in the way schools work with employers to develop these skills will pave the way to truly ‘independent learning’ in the classroom and provide young adults that are well prepared for employment.
Peter and Anne have now successfully recruited an apprentice who is settling into his new role and whose contribution to the organisation is highly valued.
Tim Evans is the Director of Lean4Learning, the education solutions provider that aims to remove waste and create a continuous improvement