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Could an Apprentice Really Help Your UK Business?

By Darragh Timlin on May 26th, 2022

When growing a UK business, every prudent employer knows better than to underestimate an employee’s importance. So, as valuable assets to your company, you’ll do all you can to hire and retain the best talents.

This includes overseeing an intense recruitment process, offering competitive compensation packages, ensuring a conducive work environment, etc. But when it comes to hiring an apprentice, you may be sceptical about what they bring to the table.

Apprenticeships can be time-consuming, which can be a drawback for businesses that need to maximise productivity. However, it’s important to invest the necessary time to train apprentices properly to ensure they can contribute effectively to the business. In addition, it’s crucial for businesses to protect themselves with proper insurance coverage, such as employer liability insurance, in case of any accidents or injuries that may occur during training or on the job.

However, you must never forget that, like employees, investing in your apprentice can generate excellent long-term results for your business. All you require is patience and understanding of the process to reap the benefits. This article will let you in on the many ways hiring an apprentice can help your business.

But first, who is an apprentice?

  1. Who’s an Apprentice?
  2. How Will Hiring an Apprentice Benefit Your Company?
    1. Cost-Effectiveness
    2. You Also Get to Learn
    3. Productivity
    4. Diversification
    5. Tailor-Suited Workforce
    6. Upskilling
  3. The Process of Hiring an Apprentice for Your UK Business
    1. Select the Right Apprenticeship for your Business
    2. Choose a Training Provider
    3. Consider Funding and Costs
    4. Advertise! Advertise!! Advertise!!!
    5. Set the Ball Rolling
    6. End-Point Assessment and Certification

Who’s an Apprentice?

An apprentice is someone 16 years old or older who works to gain the skills/knowledge required in an industry. Generally, they are individuals who upskill in their sector, kick start or change their career. Apprentices typically combine this job with schooling.

These are some essential information to note about apprentices and apprenticeships:

  • Like every other employee, an apprentice earns wages and may go on to receive holiday pay. They become entitled to the National minimum wage if they’re 19 years and above and have been apprentices for one year. Apprentices may earn higher depending on the employer and industry.
  • The apprentice works together with experienced employees.
  • There are four levels of apprenticeship — intermediate, advanced, higher, and degree. These levels begin from school leavers to A-level students to bachelor’s and master’s degree students. The length of training depends on the level of apprenticeship.
  • Apprentices must be living in England.
  • They must not be in full-time education.
  • At least 20% of their regular work hours should be dedicated to off-the-job training. This training can be in-house, or you may outsource it to colleges, training providers, and other relevant institutions.
  • You can get government funding to cover apprenticeship training costs in the UK.
  • Apprentices may get nationally recognised certificates upon completing their training.

How Will Hiring an Apprentice Benefit Your Company?

If you’re looking for a compelling reason to hire an apprentice for your business, we’ve got six:

1. Cost-Effectiveness

Apprenticeships can seem like another expensive project since you have to pay wages. But look at the big picture — you get to save lots of funds paying apprentice rates in the first year. There is also government funding available for an apprenticeship.

That’s not all; you may even make money off the apprenticeship program.  For example, you can get a £1,000 payment for employing apprentices between 16 and 18 years. You’ll also get this payment if they’re between 19 and 24 years old and have an Education, Health, and Care plan.

What could be better than developing talent for your business with such financial incentives?

2. You Also Get to Learn

Who says apprenticeship is for only apprentices to learn? You can make the best of the program by tapping from your apprentice’s wealth of knowledge too. Louize Clarke, the founder of Thames Valley’s ConnectTVT, explains how this works.

Many apprentices are untapped talents with ambition and the commercial savviness you can leverage to transform your business. Clarke benefited from her apprentice’s fresh perspective and knowledge of current trends to change her business. Her company learned more effective ways of connecting with the younger generation, a significant part of its target audience.

3. Productivity

If there’s one thing employers in the UK agree on, it’s the productivity they enjoy from apprenticeship. According to statistics from the government’s National Apprenticeship Service:

  • 86% of employers said apprenticeships helped them develop organisation-suited skills.
  • 78% of employers said apprentices had improved their business productivity.
  • 74% of employers said apprenticeships helped improve their service or product quality.

Apprentices have the drive to learn new skills that boost operational efficiency significantly. They are handy in rush hours as extra hands improve service delivery.

4. Diversification

Apprenticeship is an excellent way to enjoy the benefits of diversifying your workforce. In addition, you get all the advantages of employing young school leavers with new knowledge of new technologies.

Your business can also benefit from the experience, wisdom, and skill that apprentices on the degree level offer. Talk about enjoying the best of many worlds!

5. Tailor-Suited Workforce

Does your business require special skills? Then, instead of looking for employees with such skillsets, tailor your apprenticeship program around your needs. After all, apprentices are there to learn as much as possible about industry-relevant skills.

6. Upskilling

Continuing education is crucial to ensure that your employees remain relevant to your business goals and objectives. So, you can fill the talent gap in your company by taking advantage of apprenticeships to teach current employees new skills. This strategy also helps to encourage a culture of learning in your organisation.

The Process of Hiring an Apprentice for Your UK Business

Now that you realise the benefits of hiring an apprentice, how do you go about it? Don’t worry; we’ve got you.

Here’s our step-by-step process on how to hire an apprentice in the UK:

  • Select the Right Apprenticeship for your Business

    The first step to starting an apprenticeship is deciding what you wish to achieve from the program. This will help you to choose the course that best suits your organisation. To make the correct choice, also consider the level and duration of training.

  • Choose a Training Provider

    After deciding on the right apprenticeship for your business, it’s time to find the trainer that meets your expectations. The quality of your apprenticeship depends mainly on the quality of training your apprentice receives. So, ensure that you don’t compromise on this process.

    Ensure your trainer communicates with you properly about the training and has amazing reviews from past clients. Also, ensure that they can provide the skills your apprentices need to boost your business growth. Gloucestershire College’s Employer Training & Apprenticeships team is an excellent provider to try.

  • Consider Funding and Costs

    Research harnessing the funding opportunities and incentives for apprenticeship programs. Also, create an apprenticeship service account for accessing and managing funds. The service account can also facilitate training costs approvals, payments to trainers, etc.

  • Be as direct and clear as possible on qualifications when advertising your apprenticeship. You can outsource advertising to a recruitment service. For a highly diverse hiring process, hold open days and visit schools, colleges, and other higher institutions. Also, leverage social media and join career events.

  • Set the Ball Rolling

    Apprenticeships include off-the-job and on-the-job training. The process is flexible, and you can tweak it to suit your preferences and needs. For example, you can determine or vary the location and frequency of your off-the-job training. Don’t forget to sign an apprenticeship agreement and commitment statement with the apprentice and training provider.

    One important thing to remember is that you’re to issue your apprentice an employment contract. As such, they acquire all the rights that your permanent employees have. This means that you should have employers’ liability insurance that covers them.

  • End-Point Assessment and Certification

    Select an End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) to test how well your apprentices have acquired the required skills. The EPAO will award them a certification when they pass their assessment.

    There’s no doubt that there are advantages and disadvantages to hiring an apprentice. However, the pros far outweigh the cons. With adequate guidance, you can commence a program to engage the best-suited apprentices for your business.

At Brisco Business, we understand the unique risks faced by different industries and offer specialised business insurance solutions.

Darragh Timlin

With over 25 years’ experience, Darragh is an expert in all things insurance. Starting his career in commercial property underwriting, Darragh has worked for a number of global insurers and is now Managing Director of Brisco Business, part of the wider Henry Seymour Group.

All articles by Darragh Timlin

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