Have you got a vacancy at your childcare setting? You may not have thought of recruiting a school leaver to fill the position; but there are many positive benefits to employing a nursery apprentice who’s also a school leaver that you may not realise.

1.    They’re quick to learn

Some school leavers may dislike taking exams, but will have a burning desire to learn as much as they can from working in a setting so that they gain valued skills to build a career in childcare. It is often said young people usually find it easier to pick up new skills than much older people, so school leavers will be able to be brought up to speed with what’s required of them in their job role very quickly.

2.    They’re young and enthusiastic

If there’s one thing that school leavers don’t lack, it’s enthusiasm! School leavers are eager to get out of the hum drum boredom of the classroom and have real life experiences of the working world. Although they may not be used to the early starts and there could be a few first day hiccups, they are usually eager to make a good impression on their employer.

3. They’re loyal

Many apprentices will want to secure a job in the workplace that supported them throughout their training, not only because they feel comfortable there - but also because they will feel a sense of gratitude to you for investing in their future. According to data published on the National Apprenticeship Service website, two-thirds (64%) of apprentices will stay with the same employer after finishing their apprenticeship.

4.    You can imprint your “brand” on them

Some of your experienced staff may have worked for many years in other childcare settings, and may have inadvertently taken on another nursery’s philosophy or way of getting things done. Therefore, it may be difficult for them to adjust their behaviour when they come to your setting. However, if you recruit a school leaver who has never had any experience of work, you effectively have a very impressionable blank canvas.

5.    There are reduced training and recruitment costs

At the moment, apprentices aged 16-18 are fully funded by the government to take their childcare qualifications so there’s no cost to you in this respect. In addition, until December 2014 there is £1,500 worth of grant money payable to small businesses who take on their first apprentice, if they are struggling to be able to afford the cost of doing so. Some training providers will also help you to screen suitable apprenticeship applications when you advertise your vacancy.

6.    You can watch them grow and  progress

The beauty of taking on a school leaver is that you could see them grow from a shy, reserved young person to a confident, responsible childcare practitioner. As their employer, you are responsible for helping to coaching and mentor them. This will give you a chance to nurture their personality and help them successfully plan their career in childcare.

7.    You get support for your apprentice

Each young apprentice is assigned a qualified assessor and mentor to give them support through their learning. The assessor will visit them in their place of work to observe them and help them through their assessments. The training provider can usually provide additional support should the apprentice struggle or if the employer has issues which need to be addressed.

8. Meet your future recruitment needs

A 16 year old school leaver will not initially count in your staff ratios and will need supervision by an experienced, older member of staff whilst they study for their childcare qualifications. Individuals aged 17 years and over will count in your ratios. All things considered, the cost of recruiting and training a school leaver is reduced thanks to financial help from the government and should be seen as an investment in your team to create the skilled and qualified workforce of tomorrow.

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