An apprenticeship is where you as a business owner will take on one or more trainees to work under you in paid training, combining studying at an educational institution with learning on the job to train them up to a more skilled level. If you are taking on an apprentice, the assumed goal is that you would want this person to eventually be able to succeed in a full time position in the company.
Apprentices can be new or current employees, and their wages are primarily determined by their age. The younger the apprentice the lower the minimum hourly amount of pay is. You will also be able to apply for funding from the government to cover some of the cost of training an apprentice.
To qualify as an apprentice, your trainee will have to:
- Learn job-specific skills and knowledge
- Train under experienced staff members
- Study as well as work, during the typical working week (attending college, for example)
Apprenticeships are a popular option for businesses in England, with 814,800 people participating in an apprenticeship in 2017/18 alone.
Benefits of taking on an apprentice
Meeting social responsibilities
Although not a prerequisite for a successful business, many companies find that they gain better traction in their local community if they are seen to be giving back. Apprenticeships are a great way to do this for several reasons, including:
- Offering jobs to young people in the community
- Tackling unemployment in the local area
- Demonstrating social responsibility
- Offering a better career path to young people who otherwise might not get that opportunity.
Research has shown that companies who employ apprentices enjoy boosted productivity. The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CERB) found that each apprentice trained by a company brings, on average, a £10,000 gain in productivity for that employer.
Some research has also demonstrated that apprenticeships help to make a company more competitive in their industry, which is something else which helps to boost productivity and overall success. In a recent survey 8 out of 10 customers stated that they will choose a company which employs apprentices over others.
Apprentices tend to be more loyal to companies, thanks to being invested in the company all the way from their earliest training, to moving their way up through the company. A loyal employee is worth a lot to a business, as it is someone that you can rely on to stick with you through bad times as well as good, and to do their utmost to ensure that their job is done properly.
Apprentices have also been found to stay in the businesses that trained them for far longer than other employees.
Bringing in new business
Whilst hiring an apprentice is good for business in that it offers you a dedicated and devoted employee pool to work with, it is also good for business in that it actually brings in new customers. Many employers who hire apprentices use this as part of their pitch when trying to attract new business, and the majority of these say that this is a major selling point for potential customers.
Research has found that a third of the employers surveyed said that they would be more likely to choose a supplier or partner if they offered apprenticeships.
Hiring your apprentice
If you have decided that your business is ready to start taking on apprentices, there are several steps to the process that you will want to get right, so that you optimise the chances of success for your prospective apprentice:
- Do your research and find out what apprenticeship frameworks and types of apprenticeships are available within your industry. Knowing the standard for an apprenticeship in your general area will help you to decide what you should go for.
- Choose an organisation who can provide the correct sort of training for the type of apprenticeship you have chosen.
- Find out about funding. There are various funding options available for businesses looking to take on apprentices and you may be entitled to one or more of them in order to lessen the financial burden on your company.
- Advertise for an apprentice. You may do this through the training organisation or institution.
- Choose your apprentice and work with them to put together an apprenticeship agreement statement and a commitment statement.
Tips for working with an apprentice
Create a welcoming environment
Let your existing staff know about the apprenticeship in advance, be prepared to listen to questions and concerns and be absolutely open and honest with your staff about what this means. It is important that your apprentice feels comfortable and welcomed in your business so that they want to stay.
Appoint your apprentice a mentor within the company who can be their first point of contact, answer their questions and help them to feel secure and comfortable. This is better off being someone closer to their level than a top ranking manager so that they can integrate more easily.
Give them adequate supervision
Make sure that your apprentice is supervised closely and have lots of meetings and reviews to ensure that they are on the right track. During these meetings you can set goals and objectives so that their path is very clear week by week, and they are able to set themselves achievable goals over time.
Teach them about your business
It is not enough for your apprentice to know what your business does, they need to understand why you do what you do, and what your long term goals are. An apprentice is someone you want to stick with the business in the long term, and provide a fresh insight into your business that helps you to grow. Add this information into their training and allow them some input when it comes to business decisions from an early point.
Set a good example
Make sure that you, any other staff members overseeing your apprentice, and the rest of your workforce stick closely to the rules that you’ve set out for them. It is critical that your apprentice sees a unified workforce who all work together to meet the business goals and objectives that you’ve explained to them, so that they can place real value in these over time.
Our clients tell us that finding and keeping a good apprentice is not only a very rewarding experience for the company, it makes them feel they are playing a greater part in their local community by giving a young person a fresh chance to create a successful career. Here at Accounting Gem we love to hear these success stories, so if you have one then please let us know about it.
The process is a little involved to start with, but don’t let that put you off. If you need any help with this or have any other issues or requirements, then please get in touch on 01473 744 700 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.