Just one in five construction SMEs plan to take on an apprentice

Woman as a carpenter apprentice with a hand plane

New figures have revealed that just one in five of the construction sector’s small business owners plan to take on an apprentice this year. 

The statistics, taken from a survey of tradesperson directory Checkatrade.com’s member base* showed that 20% plan on hiring an apprentice over the coming year.

Furthermore, the figure for firms employing between 10-19 employees was as low as 9%, while for sole traders it was 17%. 

Moreover, government figures that show apprenticeship starts dropped by 4.1% in the six months to January 2023 – from 203,990 to 195,600. 

That’s as well as Checkatrade.com’s UK Trade Skills Index report, which earlier this year revealed apprenticeship completions had fallen by 11% a year since 2017. 

This news comes as a quarter of business owners tell Checkatrade.com’s SME survey that skills shortages and the challenge of finding suitable staff is their biggest concern.

Richard Harpin, chairman of Checkatrade.com, said: “The worrying statistics revealing the reluctance of small business owners to take on apprentices coupled with the declining starts and completions should serve as a wake-up call for the entire industry.  

“Apprenticeships have been proven time and again to be an invaluable resource for nurturing talent and building a skilled workforce, so it’s essential that we address this issue promptly and proactively.”

*The survey of Checkatrade.com’s SME membership based was carried out by insights and intelligence consultancy Deep Blue Thinking.

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