SME Report

Earlier this year, the St Martin’s Group conducted research with 500 small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in response to the FE White Paper – Skills for Jobs, published in January 2021. SMEs were asked about their awareness of funded skills programmes and the barriers to using them.

In the months that followed, the St Martin’s Group, in partnership with the Association of Apprentices, then created a forum to explore the experiences and views of several SMEs in relation to apprenticeships and other funded skills programmes.

The aim of the forum was to use the collective voices and experiences of 30 attendees to help shape future approaches with regards to funded skills programmes for SME businesses and their learners, and particularly for those not engaged with the system.

Some of the findings and key messages that were identified from the research and discussions with SMEs were:

  • Support provided to apprentices in larger organisations must be replicated for those working in SMEs
  • SME employers require support as much as apprentices themselves
  • Many barriers still exist for SMEs engaging with apprenticeships or other skills programmes
  • There still remains a need to debunk myths about apprenticeships and wider skills programmes
  • Communication and services to SMEs requires improvement
  • Better ways to engage with those who aren’t currently using the system must be established

For more information about the findings, and the recommendations, please click here to download the full report.