What is the business case for taking on apprentices?
Sue Husband (SH): “Apprenticeships help businesses to grow their own talent by developing a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce. Nearly every (96%) employer that takes on an apprentice reports benefits to their business, with 72% reporting improved productivity as a result of employing an apprentice. Many UK businesses benefit from taking on apprentices.”
I thought apprenticeships were a thing of the past?
SH: “No, they’re at the heart of the Government’s drive to equip people with the skills that employers need. The National Apprenticeship Service provides dedicated support to employers. Since 2010, 2 million people have started an apprenticeship and with record numbers of vacancies, there has never been a better time to apply for an apprenticeship or a traineeship (a government-funded training programme with work experience that seeks to help young people to become ‘work ready’).”
Is there any financial help for small businesses?
SH: “The Apprenticeships Grant – worth £1,500 – is available to businesses in England with fewer than 50 employees that take on apprentices aged 16 to 24. There is a factsheet for employers who want to find out more.” (Scotland has an Adopt an Apprentice scheme, which offers employers a £2,000 incentive. In Wales ‘support is available towards the cost of training and assessment’).
So how do apprenticeships work?
SH: “An apprentice can be a new or existing employee. They combine working with studying for a work-based qualification, which is why most are delivered in partnership with a college or other local training provider. Employers pay apprentices at least the national minimum wage. The apprentice must work with experienced staff; learn job-specific skills; and study for a work-based qualification. Apprenticeships can last between one and four years, depending on qualification level. There are three levels: intermediate, advanced and higher (degree level).”
What tips do you offer on finding the right apprentice?
SH: “Once you’ve decided it’s the right thing for your business, visit Gov.uk, where you can find out more information about taking on an apprentice. There are several steps that will enable you to find the right apprenticeship and apprentice. Businesses in England can register with the National Apprenticeship Service by filling out a form online. Once you find a suitable training organisation, they may be able to help you advertise if necessary. Once you find your apprentice you make an agreement with them, setting out key details.”