Manchester Metropolitan University

Growing Apprenticeship Partnerships for SMEs

SME Gap aims to carry out a number of measures to increase the number of SMEs engaging with apprenticeship programmes across Europe.

Growing Apprenticeship Partnerships (SME GAP) focusses on 'building capacities of intermediary bodies' to support apprenticeships in SMEs.

Intermediary Bodies are on the frontline of provision of advisory services to SMEs in relation to the provision of apprenticeship programmes. They vary between country and sector, however the issues they face are similar, including:
  • Understanding different types of apprenticeship programmes available
  • Ensuring intermediary bodies are able to point SMEs to quality provision
  • Identification and removal of barriers for SMEs to participate in apprenticeship programmes
  • Promoting the benefits of participation in apprenticeship programmes to SMEs
  • Driving improvements in provision of apprenticeship programmes by understanding SME needs
Download the SME GAP Brochure

Our Approach

Partners in Manchester (United Kingdom), Vienna (Austria), and Cordoba (Spain) will work with their local stakeholder organisations and deliverers of apprenticeship programmes to assist them to better target the needs of SMEs with the aim of increasing the number of SMEs taking on an apprentice.

Each area will also see a series of awareness campaigns over a two-year period, bringing together SMEs and deliverers of apprenticeship programmes.

In order to identify the specific barriers that SMEs, apprenticeship deliverers and policy makers face and to ensure greater numbers of SMEs are aware of the opportunities available to them, European partners will work together to identify case studies of successful arrangements and practices. Through a process of peer reviews between regions, partners will assist each other to close the gaps that currently exist through the identification of shared solutions.

About the Partnership

The project partnership consists of partners involved in apprenticeships and other work based placements from different sectors. Partners were selected to enable the project activity to draw upon the widest possible scenarios, experiences, cultural and legislative situations in relation to supporting SMEs and apprenticeships with the ultimate goal of producing the widest range of solutions to enable greater SME involvement in apprenticeship programmes.

Each partner will engage their local and national stakeholders in the delivery of the activity.

Project Outcomes

Over a period of two years, SME GAP will:

  • Identify issues faced by SMEs and identify solutions to enable more SMEs to take on an apprentice
  • Work to strengthen local partnerships to better target provision and make SMEs aware of current opportunities
  • Produce a number of case studies in relation to successful SME/Apprentice relationships
  • Carry out 3 Peer Reviews (one in each region) to identify tailor made recommendations for improvements
  • Produce a Best Practice Guide for use outside of the partnership and across the rest of Europe
  • Create an SME Readiness Toolkit to help SMEs assess their own capacity to employ an apprentice
  • Develop an online platform to bring providers together 
  • A series of conferences and workshops to widely disseminate opportunities for SMEs and the learning from the activity
  • Other solutions in response to findings during the activity 


Manchester Metropolitan University

Activity is coordinated by the Centre for Enterprise at Manchester Metropolitan University, the entrepreneurship centre dedicated to 'putting knowledge to work', and the Apprenticeships Unit in the Business School.

 Amadeus Association

Based in Vienna, Amadeus is an NGO education agency and training institute offering vocational guidance, language training, professional seminars and high-quality internship placements for young workers and graduates.

 IPRODECO Instituto Provincial de Desarrollo Económico

IPRODECO Instituto Provincial de Desarrollo Económico is a public entity created in 1998 by Diputacion provincial of Cordoba (the provincial government, aimed at promoting the conditions which are conductive to economic, competitive and sustainable development.

 Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

GMCC will provide direct partner input to assist in formal recommendations and will add significant value in terms of dissemination.

Contact the Centre for Enterprise


Address: Manchester Met Business School, All Saints Campus, Manchester, M15 6BH

Call: +44 (0)161 247 3871



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