Apprenticeships have evolved considerably, and are now embraced by people of all ages across all sectors. No longer the exclusive domain of the construction or manufacturing industries, apprenticeships are available in over 1,500 occupations, including hospitality, accountancy, and digital media. Even the British Intelligence Service offers apprenticeship training as part of their mission to protect the UK now and in the future.
Plug the skills gap with apprentices
Having an apprentice allows you to ensure that the skills needed by your industry will be available in the future. You will be able to plan ahead for areas of expansion for which skills are not yet available, developing the people at the same time as the new technologies or processes.
Workforce diversity equals creative diversity
Recruiting from the same skillset and background each time can sometimes dull the creative spark of a business. Offering apprenticeships means that your workforce is accessible by a larger pool of talent, especially if they do not yet have the qualifications and experience to get in without on-the-job training.
Even the most brilliant minds need inspiration. Training a broad range of personalities rather than hiring in ready-made employees allows more variety in ideas which, when combined with ideas from other minds, can develop into something seriously special. For example, Person A has an idea, Person B knows how to make it work, the company benefits.
Increase retention and productivity
Taking on an apprentice shows existing employees that you are prepared to invest in the future, and encourages them to pursue further training. It keeps everyone up to date, invigorating the skillset and motivating the workforce.
A happy team who are being properly rewarded for the skills you are helping them develop and maintain are likely to stick with you.
What you need to do to take on an apprentice
As a starting point, read through the GOV.UK guidance on how to take on an apprentice. Your apprentice should be aged at least 16 or older, and they must work enough paid hours each week to be able to train.
You will need to prepare a contract for your apprentice as you would for any employee, which includes carrying out all of the associated right to work checks. You will also need to pay your apprentice at least the minimum wage, as you would for any staff.
A commitment statement sets out how you will support them towards successfully completing an apprenticeship, and if often required by the training provider. It can also be useful if you want to apply for funding, as it demonstrates how you plan to spend the money.
An apprenticeship must be at least one year long, though they can last up to five, so be sure you are able to commit to the full length of the scheme.
Recruiting an apprentice
An apprentice can be a new employee, or an existing one who wishes to embark on the apprenticeship scheme.
There are agencies who can help you locate candidates, as well as local education providers. You will need to choose a framework for the apprenticeship in your industry, and find an organisation which will deliver the training at a suitable level. You can set all of this up before advertising for an apprentice as if you were recruiting regular staff.
You can find out more information here. If you have employed an apprentice, we’d love to hear about your experiences.