As an employer, taking on an apprentice can be a really great thing. Not only are you giving a young person an opportunity to begin an exciting new career, but their employment can have a positive effect on your business too. 72% of companies that take on an apprentice report an increase in productivity, while 75% also say that their training programme helped to cut recruitment costs, according to this guide by the Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD). Furthermore, it was found that 81% of customers favoured a company that was willing to do its bit and take on an apprentice.
However, if you are thinking of joining the 130,000 businesses currently offering apprenticeships, there are a few things that you need to know before pressing ahead with your plans. But, once you are aware of them, you will be able to plan accordingly and access many of the benefits a training programme can bring to your operation. Let’s take a closer look.
1. Be prepared to compete for young talent
You need to be aware of the fact that taking on an apprentice is not as simple as signing up to the scheme and waiting for the first knock on the door. There is competition to get the most capable candidates out there, and you will need to be prepared to fight other firms to make sure your opportunity is the most attractive.
Matt Deighton is Managing Director at Timeless Chesterfields, a furniture manufacturer that has taken on and trained many apprentices. He said:
“In terms of attracting talent, it is important to recognise that there is a lot of competition with other industries. Businesses need to work hard to sell their companies to potential candidates. This is especially true for SMEs, who might not have as much pulling power as bigger firms. Highlighting career opportunities and having a defined apprenticeship process in place that allows prospective apprentices a clear vision of what they can achieve is incredibly important.”
2. Training advice and financial support is available
It’s important to know that you don’t have to go it alone when organising your apprenticeship training programme — there is plenty of advice available for you out there. You can use the government’s apprenticeship training tool to find a framework or standard that is right for your organisation. Once you’ve decided upon that, the tool will also help you to find a training provider who will take care of advertising, training, qualification, and assessments.
If you are an SME, there are also grants available to help you finance your training programme. To be eligible you must have less than 50 employees, and any apprentice you take on must be between the ages of 16 and 24. These grants are worth £1,500, and can be claimed for up to five apprentices*. Again, the government are the ones to contact about this — fill in an enquiry form with the National Apprenticeship Service and they can assess whether you are eligible to receive any financial assistance.
3. Check your employer liability insurance
As an employer, you should already be aware that you have a responsibility to take out employer liability insurance to cover the people that work for you. Taking on an apprentice is no different, and you must have a policy that includes them too. Before you begin your search for an apprentice, take the time to review your insurance to ensure that it does cover apprentices and, if not, it will need updating or a new policy will have to be undertaken.
4. Make an apprenticeship agreement
Before you offer a place at your firm to any candidate, you need to have an apprenticeship agreement in place for them to sign. This will outline the details of what both you and your new staff member will need to do as part of the programme. You will need to pay anyone you hire at least the national minimum wage for their age, which should be highlighted in the agreement.
The document should also include: the length of the programme, a summary of the training you will provide, their working conditions, and any qualifications they will be working towards. You can view a sample apprenticeship agreement on the government’s website.
Take these four things into account when you decide to take on an apprentice and you will be well prepared for what needs to be done.
*This grant is available to businesses that take on an apprentice before the end of April. After that date, the government is changing the way it funds apprenticeships. Support will still be available however, for more information see our quick guide.