Enginuity, in partnership with The Engineer, conducted research to investigate the issues engineering and manufacturing SMEs face with apprentices completing apprenticeships. The research also explored why some engineering and manufacturing SMEs maintain achievement rates in England that are consistently higher than average.

The Unlocking the value of apprenticeships for engineering and manufacturing SMEs report attempts to shine a light on how some SMEs have overcome the barriers within the apprenticeship system and provides 10 recommendations for the sector and others.

Update on the research

Senior leaders from 10 SMEs participated in research interviews and 59 eligible SME employers, from across different sectors and regions, responded to the survey. 61% of the engineering and manufacturing SMEs that responded to the survey achieved completion rates greater than 65%. This is a positive picture, and demonstrates that many of the SME employers who responded to the survey, had managed to achieve good apprenticeship completion rates which were near to or better than the Government apprenticeship achievement rate target of 67 per cent.

Although all the SMEs reported some issues with the apprenticeship system, clear trends emerged by comparing survey responses from SMEs which have achieved good achievement rates with those that have achieved lower achievement rates. Emerging themes include the importance of mentoring, benchmarking apprenticeship schemes and working closely in partnership with training providers and colleges.

Recommendations for employers

BENCHMARK SME APPRENTICESHIP SCHEMES – A high percentage of SMEs with the highest apprenticeship achievement rates externally benchmark their apprenticeship scheme and associated processes.
ATTRACT THE RIGHT PEOPLE TO YOUR ORGANISATION – SMEs with the highest apprentice achievement rates prioritise the selection of candidates based on them being a good fit for their organization.
BUILD AND MAINTAIN EXCELLENT PARTNERSHIPS WITH TRAINING PROVIDERS – Select training providers that have the right resources and infrastructure in place to deliver excellent provision.
PREPARE EARLY FOR THE END-POINT ASSESSMENT– Ensure that you, your apprentice and the training provider is fully aware of the expectations of the end-point assessment within the first month of the apprenticeship starting.
INVEST IN YOUR APPRENTICES – Provide a joined up approach to supporting your apprentices across all functions and management levels. Pay them above the minimum wage and treat them as an employee from the outset.

Recommendations for training providers and schools

TRAINING PROVIDERS TO BE RESPONSIVE TO THE NEEDS OF LOCAL EMPLOYERS – Training provision needs to be responsive to the changing needs of employers and delivered to a consistent quality.
BETTER PREPARE YOUNG PEOPLE FOR THE WORLD OF WORK – Schools and colleges need to better educate young people about the world of work and develop stronger partnerships with local employers.

Recommendations for policymakers and intermediaries

ENSURE AN OPTIMUM AND TRANSPARENT FUNDING SYSTEM – The government needs to ensure that the Apprenticeship Levy and post-16 funding are optimally used while improving accessibility for employers and training providers.
HELP SMEs WITH APPRENTICES ON SIMILAR CAREER PATHS TO NETWORK – Government and intermediaries should support SMEs to develop their apprenticeship schemes and buddy up their apprentices. The government could support the funding of a cross-sector mentoring programme.
BUILD A ROBUST AND COHESIVE EVIDENCE BASE – Governments need to provide destination data and regular achievement rates for apprenticeships and other forms of training.

Enginuity will champion these asks through conversations with Government and via influencing stakeholders to pledge support for Enginuity’s Manifesto

How you can help

We encourage you to download the report and act on the recommendations. No matter how big or small your influence is, the apprenticeship system will only work via collective action.



are you a developer?

  • Proven International Track Record
  • Vertically Integrated Federal Funds
  • Vertically Integrated Tax Credits
  • Vertically Integrated Investors
  • Vertically Integrated Lenders
  • Vertically Integrated Contractors