AD FEATURE: SMEs adapt recruitment approach to counter cost-of-living pressures

With challenges such as cost-of-living pressures sitting high on the agenda for businesses in 2024, the Skills for Life campaign’s ‘Skills Horizon 2024 Barometer’, has found that 64% of SMEs in England are deploying lower-cost recruitment tactics to continue investing in talent.

Many employers will relate with the SMEs that cite the top concerns for the year ahead as being increased running costs (51%), and staff wellbeing in light of the cost of living (41%).

When looking at strategies for growth amidst these challenges, two-thirds of businesses plan to invest in low-cost and long-term workforce recruitment tactics such as school-leaver employment schemes (e.g. apprenticeships) (53%) and work placements (e.g. T Levels) (60%).

Over the past year, nearly three-quarters of SMEs (74%) reported seeing other businesses benefit from available technical education schemes.

Benefits include the opportunity to shape young talent (55%), upskill existing team members (52%), and address skills gaps in the business (50%).

Flexible options for employers

Businesses considering hiring employees can access a range of government training and employment schemes, including hosting T Level Industry Placements, recruiting apprentices or upskilling existing staff.

Understanding the flexible options available will be important for employers, and the Skills for Life campaign aims to help SMEs understand all the schemes available to them and help them make the right training choices for their business.

If you’re looking to invest in new or existing talent, there are many options at your disposal, including:

Apprenticeships – Available for individuals over the age of 16 and combines on-the-job training with study. You can offer this opportunity to new or current staff members, allowing you to develop your workforce and business. T Levels: industry placements – Hosting a T Level industry placement gives you early access to the brightest young people and the opportunity to develop your workforce of the future. Skills Bootcamps – Flexible training courses for aged 19 and over to fast-track specialist skill development, for existing or new talent for your business. Multiply – Free maths courses for your employees who are aged 19 and over. Multiply can help reduce numeracy-related mistakes at work, and boost productivity. Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) – Level 4 or 5 qualifications with no work placement but flexible for employees to study while working. Find out more

To find training and employment schemes for your business, as well as support on how to implement these, visit