Apprenticeships – What business owners need to know

Posted on 14th June 2016

Have you ever considered bringing in new talent to your business with apprenticeships? With ongoing interest in, and changes to, apprenticeships and higher-level apprenticeships, it’s a subject that’s is very much back on the table.

I’ve heard some very strong arguments from both employers and young people themselves, about the need for better training and higher wages within apprenticeship schemes. If managed well, then such schemes can play a significant role in boosting productivity within a business, and – in the longer term – helping to drive the economy forward. Many of our clients have had fantastic results from working with apprentices.

There’s no denying that young people need better opportunities to thrive and fulfill their aspirations, especially in the years following a recession, but what do you, as a business owner, really need to know? Here, I take a look at the considerations you need to make to decide whether apprenticeships are right for your organisation.

What exactly is involved?

If you want to bring on an apprentice, you should be aware of the following:

  • Apprentices must be aged 16 or over, and combine working with a work-related qualification – which could be anything from a GCSE right through to a degree
  • Apprentices can be new or current employees
  • You must pay at least the relevant minimum wage
  • If you’re in England or Wales, you may be able to get funding
  • Your apprentice should work alongside experienced members of staff, learn job-specific skills, and be given time during their working week to study, e.g. at a local college.

What’s in it for me?

Let’s be honest – before you make any decisions around employing apprentices in your business, you need to fully understand what you can get out of it.

First of all, you’ll be inviting a fresh set of eyes and hands into your company. Your new recruits will often be eager to succeed, and can bring a whole load of enthusiasm for your industry and the role. They want to learn, and they want to play a part in helping you to reach your goals. Who, as a business leader, wouldn’t be interested in this type of opportunity?

Many companies find that their apprentices go on to take senior positions in the business, and cultivating your own talent can have a hugely positive impact on your employer brand and your workforce as a whole.

Wondering what impact recruiting apprentices could have on your existing workforce? The anecdotal evidence tends to be strong. Bringing in fresh faces can reinvigorate the workplace dynamic, and encourage employees to really step up to the plate and embrace the changes in your business.

All of this isn’t to say that employing an apprentice will be a walk in the park. It will be a challenge, there’ll be a period of adjustment, and it may cause you to ask yourself serious questions about the way you run your operations, and the bad habits that you’ve fallen into without even realising. Savvy leaders realise that this can be a good thing though, and can really encourage you to sharpen your skills and practices.

What next?

You have a couple of options, and the best choice for you will depend on the size of your business and the resources you have available.

Employing apprentices isn’t a decision that you should enter into lightly, but it’s something that can be a fantastic strategy for the right businesses. If you’re interested in finding out how we can help you make apprenticeships work for you, then give us a call – 01536 215240 or email me: emma@gatewayhr.com. We have a number of clients who have taken on apprentices, so we can help you through this process and help make sure that it brings benefits for everyone involved.

Emma Wynne Character
Written by:
Emma Wynne
Managing Director
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