Creating a learning environment
Although the Government offers a financial incentive to businesses hiring an apprentice, Andy explains that it's important not to just see apprentices as a way of generating cash.
“You need to think in terms of investing those funds in the company and in training your apprentice to ensure you get the most out of the scheme,” he says. “Having an apprentice isn’t just about having an extra pair of hands or someone to make the tea, it costs you time and money – in training and supervising them, and in wastage of materials as they learn the trade – but you get out what you put in. Our approach is that we’re all continually learning, which is how we strive for increasing the quality of what we do. That creates a strong and positive environment for apprentices as well as the rest of the team.”
With the creation of standards to replace the previous framework from 2020/21, there’s more clarity around expectations and achievements, that will hopefully help apprentices and companies to make the most of the scheme. The Government has also launched a guide to help apprentices and employers navigate the process, from initial interest, through applying and assessing the scheme’s success.
Benefits for businesses and apprentices
While the opportunities for apprentices, such as gaining on the job experience, and new and transferable skills are perhaps easy to see, apprenticeships can bring significant benefits to businesses too. As well as taking on school leavers, for example, businesses can use the apprenticeship scheme to upskill or retrain existing employees. And, according to Government figures, 86% of employers said that apprenticeships have helped them develop relevant skills, 78% saw productivity improvements, and 74% saw improvements in product or service quality.
Jennifer Crawley, UK Head of Business Management for Small Businesses at HSBC UK, has experience working with the apprentices that bank itself takes on each year as well as hearing from small businesses about their experience.
“We take on apprentices at both foundation and degree level from a range of backgrounds and of different ages,” she explains. “No matter what size of business you are, the key thing is to understand that an apprenticeship is a two-way relationship. As a business, you’ll benefit from finding new talent and people with a different way of thinking who can potentially being new ideas into your business. You’ll get out what you put in, so making sure you’re well prepared and ready and willing to invest time in that apprentice, needs to be a really crucial part of your decision-making.”
Find out more about apprenticeships at https://www.apprenticeships.gov.uk/