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Two thousand respondents from a range of sectors of small and medium-sized enterprises came together to help carry out its recent research regarding the quality of job applicants. What its findings revealed was yet another confirmation that there is still a widespread and growing skills gap across a number of industries and that employees are dissatisfied with the quality of their candidates.

Applicants aren’t cutting it for SME owners

The results of’s survey revealed that more than two thirds of those who own small and medium-sized enterprises feel that the applicants showing interest in their job vacancies just don’t have the level of skill they’re looking for. It also appears that candidates are not only lacking in expertise, they’re also missing the right values as 48% of those surveyed agreed that candidates aren’t showing the appropriate work ethic.

This gap in skills and work ethic lead 77% of respondents to reveal that they find it a real challenge finding the right kinds of people to work for them, with 4% agreeing that this is a constant and ongoing hurdle. Interestingly, nearly a quarter said they don’t have any issue filling their vacancies which demonstrates that the quantity of applicants is adequate but it is the quality that is quite clearly suffering.

A lack of faith in the apprenticeship scheme

Another interesting revelation from the research showed that 15% of those surveyed agreed that they would much rather hirer someone they know rather than somebody they had never met before. This minor but apparent fear of the unknown goes hand-in-hand with the widespread disinterest in the apprentice scheme among UK SME owners.

The apprenticeship scheme has been established for more than five decades now but it seems that small and medium-sized business owners just aren’t eager to go down this avenue of employment. Despite 55% of those surveyed acknowledging a skills gap in their respective industries, less than 30% had taken on an apprentice, while 59% hadn’t and only 13% said they were looking into it.

Of those who hadn’t employed an apprentice, 40% agreed that doing so would leave them short staffed as they would only move on from the company once they had received a satisfactory amount of training. Nearly 35% admitted that they see the administrative obligations as being too heavy of a burden to deal with.

Lyndon Wood, CEO and founder of, said: “Apprenticeship schemes aren’t just for building trades or hairdressers, these days apprentices can be in any sector. It is a great scheme that can help upskill your workforce and teach them about your business and industry.

“I think businesses should look again at these schemes to add talent and loyalty to their workforce and ensure that the skills they have as a trade are kept alive.”

What to do when you’ve hired the wrong employee

If you are the owner of a small or medium-sized business and are suffering at the hands of a lack of satisfactory job applicants then you many have been forced to make some decisions you quite possibly regret. Finding the right employees for your company is a process that requires dedicated time and consideration but if the calibre of candidates just ain’t cutting the mustard, you might have been forced into an impulsive decision.

There are a number of routes you can go down when you think you’ve made a bad choice and hired the wrong employee. The most drastic is, of course, cutting your losses and letting them go but before you do this you could always try training or probationary period to establish whether or not it was a simple need for time to adjust to new ways of working. For more information on what to do when you think you might have hired the wrong one, click here.

About The Author

Karl Bilby

We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!

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