As I write this, we are approaching the pointy end of the current UK Apprentice TV series where a further intake of hopefuls are scrabbling to win favour with Lord Sugar, Nick Hewer and Karen Brady. The last few bold and brash candidates in the series are running around London attempting to sell this week’s best new product, all the while trying to outmanoeuvre each other in order to win the final investment and become Lord Sugar’s latest business partner.
As usual, the 20 strong panel of budding entrepreneurs has largely been chosen for their entertainment value, outrageously over-inflated opinions of their own capabilities and the friction they will cause when forced to work together as opposed to their true business acumen.
Having discussed and debated the current cohort around the dinner table with many of my business associates, the general consensus is that we wouldn’t hire a single one of them. Over-inflated ego’s combined with a vacuum of basic business skills, never mind often a lack of common sense, does not showcase any of these individuals as likely hires.
However, the good news is that small businesses are growing in our economy, and therefore they are hiring. We already know that small businesses* make up 96% of UK businesses and in the past year, 60% of private sector jobs were created by SMEs.
You may not want the candidates on The Apprentice, but finding the right talent is crucial if you are ambitious for the growth of your business.
Encouraging news for small growing businesses came in the recent Autumn Statement from George Osborne when he offered small businesses a tax break if they create skilled jobs through the Apprenticeship scheme. Warranted, not a massive saving, but every little helps. You will no longer have to pay National Insurance contributions on employees who are part of the scheme, with an emphasis on the under 25’s.
It’s a huge challenge currently for NEETS (under 25’s who are Not in Employment, Education or Training) to gain their first employment. Yet small businesses are constantly facing the challenge to find good talent when competing with the benefits and security a large corporate employer offers.
One option has to be the Apprenticeship scheme, which is no longer the reserve of the large corporates. So this incentive might be what’s needed to bring these two groups together and for growing businesses to consider more seriously employing young raw talent.
If it opens up the possibility of a growing business employing some young raw talent who not only benefits from hands-on training but can grow with your business, as opposed to choosing an ‘out of the box’ more expensive hire, then this has to be a real option that smaller businesses can now consider.
Good news for both ambitious small businesses AND ambitious potential new employees.
For more information on UK Government’s Apprenticeship scheme – click here.
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*UK Government classification of a small business is 1-249 employees and turnover under £32M
Nicola Cook is an award-winning entrepreneur and twice published international best-selling author on professional selling and personal & business growth. She is CEO of Company Shortcuts, a business devoted to improving business results by injecting skill, passion and strategy to help those entrepreneurs and sales enthusiasts achieve the sales results they desire.