Research carried out on behalf of the bank involving 2,000 young people shows that one in eight (13 per cent) of those aged 14 and 15 want to take an Apprenticeship.
Based on current student numbers, this would mean that as many as 181,090 14 and 15-year-olds are looking to take an Apprenticeship when they leave school.
With around 25,000 young people currently taking up an Apprenticeship at age 16, the research concludes that more than 156,000 are missing out – which equates to a £1,503,146,700 potential injection to the economy, claims Barclays.
Barclays bases this claim on National Apprenticeship Service figures showing that apprentices bring a £214 a week boost to productivity for firms, equating to £9,630 a year, allowing for time off.
At the same time, other research involving 500 HR managers in SMEs shows that 64 per cent says they cannot offer an Apprenticeship, with one in 10 blaming “red tape and costs” for not doing so. SMEs make up 99 per cent of all UK businesses.
Other barriers cited included a lack of resource to set up and manage a programme, a lack of relevance to their business areas, and an inability to find suitable candidates.
However, the research also revealed the positive perceptions businesses have about apprentices, including that they are people who are keen to learn and develop professionally, ambitious for their career, happy to contribute to the business beyond their direct role, and engaged with the business.
Barclays runs the Lifeskills programme, which works with students aged 11 to 19 to offer work experience opportunities and skills training.
Kirstie Mackey, head of LifeSkills, said: “SMEs are the UK’s life blood when it comes to offering employment, but this research shows that they still perceive barriers to be able to offer on the job training or to help young people be work-ready.
“Not only does it create a skills gap that holds back a generation from realising their potential, but also means a potential productivity gain of over £1.5 billion to the UK economy goes untapped.
“Businesses need support to connect with education providers and young people to offer the quality pre-employment learning opportunities that are so desperately needed.”
For more information on the LifeSkills initiative, visit www.barclayslifeskills.com