Engineering and manufacturing SMEs struggling with apprenticeship achievement rates: New research explores why




Enginuity News , Enginuity Update , Policy News


Engineering and manufacturing apprenticeship achievement rates in England increased by only 2% from 58% to 60% in 2022/23. At this rate, the Government’s target of 67% for apprenticeship achievement rates will not be reached until 2027! 

Enginuity’s new research in partnership with The Engineer, explores the issues engineering and manufacturing SMEs face in apprentices achieving their apprenticeship certificates; where they go for support, and their recommendations for fellow employers, policymakers, training providers and intermediaries.

Jon Excell, Editor of The Engineer explains why the research is so important to the engineering and manufacturing sector:

“The need to grow the skills base is arguably UK engineering’s most pressing issue, and ensuring that the apprenticeship pipeline is working as effectively as possible is absolutely key to this. By identifying some of the strengths and shortcomings of existing processes, this research project aims to help the industry understand how it can get the most out of its apprenticeship schemes.”

The research so far

We interviewed 10 engineering and manufacturing employers in February 2024. These SMEs:

  • had fewer than 250 employees;
  • were based in England;
  • had recruited apprentices in the last 5 years.

Research next steps

The themes that emerged from the interviews (summarised below) are being explored in greater detail via a survey. 

In May, we'll publish a detailed report summarising our results and recommendations.  We wanted to share with you some of the interesting themes that arose and invite you to join us for the final report launch.

SMEs are facing several similar issues with apprentices gaining their apprenticeship certificates. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Inconsistencies in the training provided such as the quality of teaching, mentoring approach, assessments and the frequency at which these are completed.
  2. Issues attracting appropriately skilled people to their organisation. There’s still an unfair playing field when it comes to attracting people to engineering and manufacturing careers via technical, rather than academic routes. The education system is failing to support students to access technical routes. Currently, 16-year-olds who are signposted towards technical careers are often not work-ready.
    “The attrition with 16-year-olds has been absolutely horrific. We lost a complete intake which we had invested a lot of time in recruiting.” SME research participant
  3. Issues retaining apprentices due to competition from other employers, apprentices’ performance, and the workload associated with apprenticeships; particularly higher-level apprenticeships.

Get involved

Join us online on Wednesday 22 May from 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM for the launch of our final report.

The online event will start with a discussion of the key insights and recommendations from the report led by Enginuity’s Chair, Dame Judith Hackitt and The Engineer’s Editor, Jon Excell. This will be followed by a panel session, including an SME CEO, HR manager, FE college director and an apprentice. After the panel session, all attendees can participate in a question-and-answer session.

Reserve your spot image with id: edfcc770-1c00-437b-952e-c925855c224a

Join us online on Wednesday 22 May from 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM for the launch of our final report.

Reserve your spot