Open University Business Barometer 2021 paints case for apprenticeships

The 5th annual report draws attention to serious concerns around widening skills gaps with more than half of employers stating that apprenticeships and work-based learning will therefore be critical to their long-term success.

According to the report, the skills shortage, while nothing new, has certainly been impacted by the pandemic with 63% of UK businesses finding recruitment difficult, an increase on the 2020 figures which had been shortening. While recruiting for skills can be a costly process, the report shows that SMEs and large corporations alike plan to invest in apprenticeships as one way to address the deficit.


“It is very promising to read that over half the businesses interviewed see apprenticeships and work-based learning as critical to their future”, said Anna Morrison, founder Amazing Apprenticeships, “Apprenticeships are a brilliant way to upskill existing employees, ensure progression and help to address the skills gap.”


In fact, the report is very encouraging around apprenticeship schemes. Of those businesses who currently employ apprentices, “96% expect to maintain or increase hiring of apprentices again in the next 12 months signifying a confidence of UK organisations in apprenticeship schemes.” offering proof of the value to businesses going down this route.

Another positive from the report is the news that remote working is noticeably impacting on the diversity and inclusion agenda. Working from home opens opportunities to a wider talent pool and will be part of the solution for encouraging the 63% of businesses who intend to make their workforce more diverse.


“Bringing these two positives together is something that we have been striving towards with The Genie Programme,” adds Morrison. “Empowering apprenticeship and early careers professionals to affect change in the way their company recruits and nurtures those from differing socio-economic backgrounds is not only the right thing to do, but it will drive our economy forward.”


Cohort 2 of The Genie Programme is now open for application.

The full OU Business Barometer Report can be downloaded here.

Our next free workshop Time for Change will explore the skills gap issue and how apprenticeships can be an answer. Join us on 14th November at 12.30 – register your spot here.



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