With National Apprenticeship Week set to take place on the 5th March, we thought now would be the perfect time to shine the spotlight on apprenticeships. Find out more about how business apprentices can bring great benefits to your setting, below.
Has there been a better time to hire an apprentice? Last year, the Government reported that apprenticeships had reached a record level, with 491,300 apprenticeship starts in the 2016-17 academic year. Nearly a quarter (24.6%) of these apprentices were under the age of 19.
Companies operating in over 170 different industries are seeing apprenticeships as a cost-effective way to grow their business and introduce fresh young talent. Having identified a need for a business apprentice, where do you begin?
First of all, you’ll need to decide how many vacancies you have and what level of apprenticeship would fulfil the needs of your business. Apprenticeships have different levels which are roughly equivalent to the following:
– Intermediate: level 2 (5 passes at GCSE grades A-C)
– Advanced: level 3 (2 A level passes)
– Higher: levels 4,5,6 and 7 (foundation degree and above)
All apprenticeships involve on-the-job training and coursework. Your apprentice will be asked to complete assignments and will be visited by their assessor regularly to check on their progress. It’s the job of a training provider, such as Parenta, to help structure the delivery of the apprenticeship and support your apprentice to gain their chosen qualification.
What are the benefits?
There are lots of benefits of employing an apprentice, such as improving your reputation in the local community and getting your business noticed! Research has found that 67% of consumers agree that offering apprenticeships is “a key part of a company engaging with, and contributing to, society”.
Here are more known benefits of hiring apprentices:
Apprenticeships are a cost-effective way to train an employee from the ground up, whilst supporting the day-to-day running of your business. Although you must pay the National Minimum Wage for apprentices*, there’s funding help to cover training costs. If you employ a 16 to 18-year-old, the cost of their apprenticeship training is met in full by the Government.
In addition to this, you’ll receive a £1000 grant for training a school leaver or a 19 to 24-year- old who is a care leaver or on a local authority Education, Health and Care Plan. This is paid in two instalments of £500.
* This applies to the first 12 months of the apprentice’s course, after which point the National Minimum Wage for the learner’s age group will apply.
Fill skills gaps
For many businesses, it can be hard to find the right candidate to fill a vacancy. Apprenticeships are a great way to fill skills gaps in your workforce. As an employer, you’ll be able to mould the apprentice into the kind of employee who aligns with your company’s culture from the very start. You’ll also be able to structure your apprentice’s learning to assist you in fulfilling your business objectives.
Encourage knowledge sharing
When apprentices share their knowledge of the latest up-to-date practices from their training, their colleagues can benefit from this. This knowledge sharing works both ways, as experienced members of staff are usually keen to help novice team members find their feet. Employees exchanging skills and knowledge in this way is highly beneficial for your business.
There’s evidence to suggest that employing apprentices can improve the productivity of the companies they work for. A study carried out for the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) found that each apprentice enables a productivity gain of more than £10,000 per year for their employer. Government statistics have also revealed that 76% of employers saw productivity improve after hiring an apprentice.
Other points to consider
As an employer, you’ll be responsible for drawing up an apprenticeship agreement between your business and your apprentice. You’ll also be required to pay the National Minimum Wage, which varies depending on the apprentice’s age. The current wage for apprentices aged 16-18 is £3.50 per hour, rising by 20p in April this year.
Funding and apprenticeship reforms
The ESFA funding rules state that employers must provide at least 20% “off-the-job” training to their apprentices. The core focus of this training is to teach the apprentice new skills. You must ensure that this training equates to 20% of the apprentice’s contracted working hours. Find out more about what this training involves here.
Apprenticeships are incredibly beneficial to both school leavers and existing employees, equipping them with the skills and knowledge they need to progress in their career. However, apprentices are also a valuable commodity for employers and this is why so many organisations are hiring them.