“Apprenticeships are the real nitty-gritty way of creating an efficient, skillful and vibrant workforce.” – Sean Bean
There’s an age old view that apprenticeships are expensive and don’t fit into small business models. These are major misconceptions. We’ve entered a new age of apprenticeships, and there’s no better time to get an apprentice on board.
Whilst common wisdom would encourage that we recruit apprentices for the benefit of the individual (as well as the business), the truth is that it’s quite straight forward to build an organisation using apprentices and benefit from a skilled and committed workforce at the same time.
Let’s address the reasons why entrepreneurs may be cautious about taking on apprenticeships.
1. “Apprenticeships don’t exist in my line of business.”
There are over 1500 job descriptions and apprentice roles in more than 170 sectors. From managers to administrators, digital marketing to engineers; most organisations can find apprenticeships to fit their business. It’s an industry that’s constantly evolving (never more so than in recent times!) and new apprenticeship qualifications are developed by businesses and are becoming regularly available.
2. “It takes too much time to support an apprentice.”
One thing SME’s don’t understand is that there’s a lot of help and support available to guide you and your apprentice along their journey. If you’re considering taking on an apprentice, you’ll start by connecting with an apprentice training organisation that can provide you with all the steps needed. This often includes recruiting the ideal apprentice to fit your business.
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Often, apprentices have completed their education after GCSE’s or A-levels (and now, anyone of any age including graduates can become apprentices too) and are propelled along a fast learning curve. They will devote 20% of their time on off-the-job ‘formal’ learning … and will enhance their skills to add additional value to their position in your business.
Taking on apprentices can also help to give your business a boost and in productivity and can free up your more experienced staff from other important tasks. In England, 75% of businesses reported that taking on an apprentice has enhanced the quality of their service or product.
3. “I can’t afford the costs of an apprentice.”
The challenge to this should be; can you really afford ‘not’ to take on an apprentice? If you’re seeking business growth then employing a dynamic and flexible recruit to support your key staff makes really great business sense.
For any organisation thinking of taking on an apprentice, a core consideration will be the costs of an apprentice. It’s actually a lot less than you might think and is genuinely an affordable option to recruit and develop an employee.
Small businesses don’t have to pay into the Apprenticeship Levy system. The government instead suggests that organisations considering recruiting an apprentice, who have a payroll of less than £3 million, should co-invest 10% of the training costs, with the government funding covering the remaining 90%. Additionally, if you employ less than 50 staff and recruit a 16 to 18 year-old, their training is normally fully funded and you’re also granted £1000 as the employer of the apprentice.
4. “They won’t have any commitment and won’t hang around for long.”
Many business owners think they’ll spend the time and effort (not to mention some financial investment) in training an apprentice, for them to then resign and move on soon after. This is an understandable concern but by providing the right support and work environment, an apprentice will often be more comfortable displaying their loyalty and staying with the company that put them first. 77% of apprentices stayed with the same organisation after finishing their apprenticeship.
5. “I’ve no experience of recruiting an apprentice.”
Seek help from a specialist apprentice support and training provider who provide impartial (and free) skills advice. This ensures your company gains the skilled apprentices you need to achieve your business growth ambitions. Advisers should be able to provide or connect you with local, regional or national training organisations who will help you with the apprenticeships knowledge.
It is worth putting effort and time into finding a good support and training organisation that you can work with. You should then commit to an ongoing rolling recruitment programme, say one a year on a cycle. This is a great way to support your own business growth.
Yorkshire Powerhouse thoughts on apprenticeships
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