- Day to Day HR
- National Apprenticeship Week – could an apprenticeship be a good move for your business?
This year’s National Apprenticeship Week is taking place from 5th – 11th February: a week’s celebration bringing together businesses and apprentices throughout the country to highlight the positive impact of apprenticeships on individuals, businesses and the economy. With the government giving funding to employers to help cover the cost of apprenticeship training, could an apprenticeship be a good move for your business?
What is an apprenticeship?
A key government policy since 2017, apprenticeships enable people to receive on-the-job training whilst gaining a qualification at the same time. With the government’s policy changes, apprenticeships are now seen as a way to improve people’s pay and employment prospects, in turn, increasing national productivity and social mobility.
You can take on apprentices at all different levels, from school leavers to people embarking on a career change at a later stage of life. An apprentice could be a new recruit or an existing employee looking for a new challenge.
Apprenticeships can bring many benefits to employers. The CIPD has published figures highlighting some of the benefits of apprenticeships:
- 80% of employers have maintained or improved future skills in the business.
- 70% of employers have seen improvements in the goods and services they offer.
- 66% of employers have experienced improved staff morale.
Hiring apprentices can be a great way to strengthen your workforce by recruiting individuals who want to learn new skills and are highly motivated. Alongside the classroom-based learning, apprenticeships entail on-the-job training, combining practical learning with the theoretical knowledge needed for the job. The practical side of apprenticeships means that you can train apprentices up with the relevant skills based on the needs of your business, allowing you to close any skills gaps.
An apprentice must be at least aged 16 and not already in full-time education. As an employer you can find a training provider and select an apprenticeship on the government website: https://www.gov.uk/employers-find-apprenticeship-training. Alternatively, you are able to create your own apprentice opportunity but will still need to find a training provider to help deliver the training.
As for your current employees, an apprenticeship could be a fantastic opportunity for them to develop their career whilst staying with the business. As highlighted by the CIPD figures, employers can see a real improvement in employees’ morale as a result of offering apprenticeships. Giving your existing staff the opportunity of an apprenticeship shows them that you support their continuing professional development. Not only can this lead to higher levels of engagement and motivation, but it reduces your time and money spent on recruitment, encourages employee loyalty and retention, whilst your employees get the opportunity to learn new skills.
An apprentice will have employment status and so you’ll need to pay them at least the National Minimum Wage. We’d usually recommend putting an apprentice on a fixed term contract of employment up until the end of their apprenticeship. Apprenticeships can therefore be a cost-effective recruitment strategy for small businesses and a financially viable way to boost skills needed within your business, especially with the government funding as well.
Another benefit that apprenticeships can bring is increasing the diversity of your workforce. Apprentices can be from all walks of life, be of different ages and have different skills. The opportunity to earn guaranteed income whilst gaining a professional qualification makes apprenticeships appeal to a wide range of people. This enables you to widen the talent pool from which you are able to recruit and, as a result, increase the diversity of your employees, creating a more inclusive workplace culture.
Whilst apprenticeships can have many benefits for businesses, there are some other important considerations for business owners to be aware of when thinking about hiring apprentices.
A lot of the time the apprenticeship could be the individual’s first job. So whilst apprentices may be really keen and motivated, they might take a little longer than more experienced colleagues to learn about your company’s culture and the world of work. This can sometimes require a bit more patience from your side to give apprentices the time to really embed themselves into the role and your business.
You will also need to be prepared to provide the on-the-job training that apprenticeships require, as well as giving the apprentice time off to complete their qualification, whether that’s attending weekly college sessions or online courses, and perhaps also giving them some support with study time. Managing apprentices well will enable them to easily adapt to the workplace and really understand their role and the business itself. Giving on-the-job training means you’ll need to commit the time and effort into the apprentice’s learning, which can be time-consuming to fit in around your busy day job. However, to reap the rewards of taking on an apprentice, it is worth investing this time and committing to the apprenticeship wholeheartedly.
If you are thinking of recruiting an apprentice and need any help, we’d be happy to help, so get in touch today.