Apprenticeships form a key part of the business strategy for many companies in Bristol, research by BDO shows. For many companies, hiring apprentices is now about more than just finding cheap labour, although still a key reason for 8%. More than half view apprenticeships as vital for their succession planning.
In their recently released Bristol Business Pulse report, professional services firm BDO and The Bristol Post identify the opportunities and challenges faced by businesses in the Bristol area. The survey looks at different key components, of which apprenticeships are one, concluding that apprenticeships are a key part of the business strategy in Bristol.
The research shows that Bristol is one of the leading cities in the UK when it comes to apprenticeships. More than half (56%) of the companies surveyed currently employing apprentices and almost the same percentage, 55%, plans to hire more in the coming years, with 51% planning to increase their apprentices intake and 4% to increase the number a lot in the coming three to five years. While 31% indicate not to increase the number of apprentices and 15% are still unsure, none of the companies say they will decrease the number.
According to BDO, this is encouraging given that the number of apprentices taken on in the South West fell by 12.5% last year, albeit this was less than the national average decline of 14%.
For many companies, apprentices are seen as a key part of their business strategy. Main reasons to hire apprentices are to fill a skills gap (30%), bring enthusiasm and new ideas (21%) and to mitigate risks associated with hiring (17%). Fulfilling CSR goals and enhancing brand reputation are also named as key reasons. Demonstrating apprenticeships are no longer used to ‘just’ fulfil talent requirements at a lower cost (named by 8% as the main reason).
The research also shows that companies hire apprentices for the ‘long term’, with the majority (51%) of Bristol companies seeing apprenticeships as a viable route to address their internal succession planning needs. This appears to be especially true in the manufacturing sector, where many companies are concerned about the lack of skilled talent coming through schools as they try to deal with the fact that 30% of the skilled manufacturing workforce will be retiring or leaving the industry by 2017. As a result, two-thirds of manufacturers believe their apprentices are vital for a successful succession planning.