The humble apprenticeship was once synonymous with keen plumbers and teens who had dropped out of their A-Levels. But these days you can do an apprenticeship at any age and in almost any subject you can think of – from plastering to engineering and beyond (we have our very own accounting apprentices!).
The apprenticeship scheme has seen a number of shake-ups over the last decade, with controversial changes to funding and structure, resulting in a decline in new uptakes. But for the first time, after yet more changes, things are finally looking up.
Indeed, last year saw over a quarter of a million apprenticeship starts across the UK, up for the first time in a number of years. But why should you take on an apprentice?
1. It’s a great low-cost way to bring in new talent
Of course it would be remiss to not mention that many business owners are attracted to the prospect of an apprentice due to the relatively low costs of hiring and training one. It is, of course, certainly not the only reason (as this blog will prove!).
The amount you will contribute to training costs will vary according to the size of your business. For more details check out the official government website.
2. They will grow with your business
Whether you’re a new start-up or you’re looking to expand, a huge advantage to an apprentice is that you can train them specifically in the skills that will benefit your business. There’s no need to spend precious time and money hunting for an employee to fill that skills gap. And as an employee, seeing an apprentice grow and improve under your guidance can almost be as rewarding as seeing the work they produce!
3. Reduce staff turnover
Nurturing an apprentice doesn’t just pay for itself in terms of staff costs and output. It also fosters a sense of loyalty and belonging, and helps you to retain your new hire, long after their training is over.
Additionally, people are often surprised to hear that you can offer an apprenticeship to an existing staff member, no matter where they are on the ladder. This sends an important message that they are an essential member of your team and that you’re willing to invest in their future career with you.
4. Support and funding
Taking on an apprentice means working in partnership with an approved training provider who are on hand to help you get the most out of the scheme. In some areas managers and business owners can attend training days and seminars to help them be a great mentor. Opportunities for extra funding may also available depending on your industry and what part of the country you’re in. It pays to do some Googling!
5. Increase productivity
One of the real joys of taking on an apprentice is that they want to be working with you as much as you want to be working with them. And a passion and enthusiasm for learning on the job inevitably increases productivity. A study by the National Apprenticeship Service found that employers reported a whopping 76% improvement in their business productivity after taking on an apprentice.
6. Diversify your workforce
Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to afford to go onto higher education and that inevitably means plenty of perfectly skilled people are overlooked. When you take on an apprentice, it gives people of all backgrounds an equal footing and you get to hire based on enthusiasm, talent and how good a fit you think they’ll be, rather than circumstance.