It’s an age-old dilemma in business.

You want to recruit the best young people, but when you do - and spend a lot of money training them up - they leave without a second thought to progress their careers.

And of course, all that time, effort and money spent on their development walks out of the door with them.

If any of that sounds familiar you might want to consider using apprenticeships to help bridge your skills gap.

They are still a popular way in to work, with 119,500 young people taking up apprenticeships in the first three quarters of 2017/18, a huge increase on the same period 12 months earlier.

And there are a number of other benefits to you as an employer of getting on board the apprenticeship programme.

There is plenty of research around which indicates that apprentices are more loyal to their companies and that they thrive when given the opportunity, climbing the career ladder more quickly than peers from different backgrounds.

And if you are a relatively small employer, you won’t have to pay the apprenticeship levy which helps fund the nationwide scheme. The levy was introduced two years ago and means all UK employers with an annual salary bill of over £3 million pay in, with the Government adding a top up.

But if your annual wage bill is below the £3million mark you don’t have to pay the levy, though you are expected to contribute at least 10% of the cost of training an apprentice aged 19 plus, with the Government making up the remainder. (Even better, if your apprentices are aged between 16 and 18, their schemes are fully funded by Government).

This is a terrific opportunity for SMEs to invest in their future workforce, give talented youngsters a chance to succeed and build the sort of loyal, dedicated workforce which will help bring energy and drive to the operation. It also means that the apprenticeship dice are no longer loaded so much in the favour of the larger companies already paying the levy.

Figures from national organisations back up the case for apprenticeships.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education says  87% of employers are satisfied with their apprentices’ training and 75% reported an improved product or service as a result of the training.

So it’s a win-win for both apprentices and the companies taking them on. And certainly well worth any business investigating as a way of bridging any skills gap, investing in young, local talent and building for a brighter future.

If you would like to discuss these issues, or other HR concerns then please

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