While it is no secret that social media has helped SME’s will minimal resources to grow, it is important that owners retain an open mind when attempting to expand their ventures. In addition to the growing range of social media channels available, for example, there are also other avenues through which small and independent businesses can minimise costs while also maximising efficiency.

The creation of a flexible workforce provides a relevant example, as technological innovations such as Cloud computing and real-time communication techniques have enabled business-owners to collaborate with a global talent pool while also reducing the cost of recruitment. By outsourcing work and employing skilled contractors according to each individual project, entrepreneurs can also ensure that they employ the best people to complete specialist tasks.

In terms of reducing an annual wage bill without compromising on the efficiency of your business, however, you should also consider offering apprenticeships to motivated and driven individuals who are keen to work in your industry. This is something that could potentially benefit the future of your business, while enabling you to forge strong links with the local community and play an active role in tackling youth unemployment. With this in mind, consider the following advantages that apprenticeships deliver in the modern age: –  

1.       Apprenticeships Help to Reduce Youth Unemployment

Global youth unemployment was causing consternation even before the Great Recession, and the financial crisis only exacerbated the issue. It is currently estimated that half of the world’s youngsters are either unemployed or underemployed, while even relatively prosperous nations such as Australia have also recorded youth unemployment figures of more than 12% in 2014. This is strong motivation for any small-business owner who has a social conscious, while it will also interest entrepreneurs who have strived to emerge as thought leaders in their chosen market. While the concept of thought leadership enables businesses to establish their voice and an entry point into a relationship with potential customers, for example, the practical step of offering apprenticeships can provide context to your words and give a positive impression to others.

2.       Engage with your Local Community

As the effectiveness of local SEO and search techniques prove, small and independent businesses are increasingly keen to reach out to their local community. Many also look to engage directly with local customers and service providers, in order to develop a physical presence and improve brand awareness within the community. Creating apprenticeship opportunities for local graduates is an excellent way of achieving this, as it enables you to expand organically while also offering something of interest to the community and its members. You need only look at the example set by Groundforce in the UK to see how effectively this can be, as they now offer annual placements to aspiring graduates and work alongside local colleges to deliver practical experience of their industry. While your business may not have the resources of such a large scale corporation, however, there is a lesson to be learned in terms of how apprenticeships can forge strong and positive local bonds.

3.        Consider the Cost of Recruitment and Long-term Employee Efficiency

With these points in mind, it is no surprise that government leaders and economists throughout the word are actively encouraging business-owners to collaborate in the quest to create apprenticeship and internship opportunities. There are also purely selfish benefits to consider too, however, as employing apprentice workers can also help you to reduce recruitment and annual salary costs without compromising on productivity. This is because an apprentice can be offered a relatively low-cost full-time contract of employment, while their enthusiasm and willingness to learn means that they will be extremely motivated when undertaking their day-to-day duties. For business-owners with a long-term vision and forward-thinking mind-set, apprenticeships also offer an opportunity to shape malleable young minds and ultimately create a specific culture or philosophy within their workplace. Over time, this can make it far easier to manage your businesses operational procedures while establishing a clearly defined and consistent branding message.