According to apprenticeships.gov.uk, many firms look to recruit apprentices in January and February. If this is you, and you are considering how hiring an apprentice (or more than one), could benefit your business, we want to help. To this end, we have compiled an article listing everything you need to know when considering if apprenticeships are the right fit for your company. We will also discuss how to make the most of your apprenticeships should you decide this to be the right course of action for you.
What is an apprentice and how do I hire one?
An apprenticeship is defined as paid employment, working at least 30 hours per week, which incorporates both on and off-the-job learning. An apprentice can be a new or existing employee. There are a number of steps that an employer can take in order to ensure that the process of hiring an apprentice is as painless as possible, as well as ensuring the appointment of the best possible candidate for the role.
Choose an apprenticeship standard that is both relevant to your industry and at a suitable level.
Find an organisation that offers training for your chosen standard.
Advertise your apprenticeship. Your training provider should do this on your behalf via the “Find an Apprenticeship” service.
Select the candidate for your apprenticeship and make the relevant apprenticeship agreement and commitment statement with them.
How long does an apprenticeship last?
The minimum duration of an apprenticeship is 12 months, but an apprenticeship can last up to five years, depending on the level at which the apprentice is studying. However, the end point assessment (EPA) can only take place after the minimum duration of the apprenticeship, thereby extending the duration. This means that, in the instance of a 12-month apprenticeship, the EPA cannot occur until after the full 12 months have passed, meaning that the full apprenticeship will last over 12 months.
What are an employer’s responsibilities with regards to managing an apprentice?
An employer must ensure that there is a genuine job available, with a contract of employment long enough to allow time for the apprentice to complete their apprenticeship. The employer is responsible for paying the apprentice’s wages and ensuring that they are placed in a role that will help them to gain the relevant knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to achieve the apprenticeship, whilst also providing any support that the apprentice may need.
The employer also has an obligation to ensure that the apprentice partakes in 20% “off the job” learning, which must be planned, recorded and subsequently evidenced.
What are the benefits of hiring an apprentice?
An employer can receive a number of benefits from hiring an apprentice. The government offers certain financial incentives to employers to encourage apprenticeships, but there are also a number of non-pecuniary benefits. In fact, apprenticeships are often seen to be a productive and effective way for any business to nurture talent and develop a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce.
One government report shows that employers with an established apprenticeship programme cited an improvement in productivity of 78%. Additionally, 74% of employers reported that apprenticeships actively improved the quality of their product or service and 86% said that apprenticeships helped them develop skills relevant to their organisation. Other benefits include increased employee satisfaction, lower staff turnover, reduced recruitment costs and many more.
How can I ensure my business gets the most out of its apprenticeships?
Taking on an apprentice can be a big undertaking for your business. For this reason, you’ll want to make sure that you’re getting the best out of your apprentice in order to ensure maximum return on investment. With that in mind, we have compiled some top tips for getting the most out of your apprenticeships.
Set up a mentor. Assigning a designated mentor to your apprentice will give them a chance to gain advice, meet new people and see the business from another perspective. It also means they have somewhere to go should they encounter any issues in the workplace. (See also: ‘Who Should Be Involved in Managing an Apprentice?’)
Set clear goals and objectives. It’s important that you make clear to your apprentice what is expected of them, just like you would with any new member of staff, but also that you discuss their goals. Chances are your apprentice will have their own set of objectives for their time at your company and, by understanding these, you can ensure that you’re both on the same page and discuss any ways in which you can help your new team member to meet any personal targets that they may have.
Monitor progress. Track your apprentice’s skills, knowledge and targets from the beginning of their apprenticeship right through to completion and make sure to offer any further advice or training deemed necessary as a result.
Be open to giving your apprentice new opportunities. An apprenticeship should provide your apprentice with a wide range of skills and insight, not just in their role or department, but in the entire business. Allow them to link up with other departments in order to receive a broader understanding of your company.
Invest in your apprentice. An apprentice isn’t just for an apprenticeship. If things go well, you’ll come out of the process with a new skilled, loyal and highly engaged member of your workforce, so it’s worth investing in them. That doesn’t just mean money, but time too. Research shows that an apprentice will remain one of the most loyal members of your workforce, so it’s worth investing in them.
Learn from the experience. Once you’ve been through the process of hiring and training an apprentice, think about what you’ve taken from the experience and refine what you’ve learnt in order to offer an even better experience to future recruits.
What software is available to help employers manage their apprentices and ensure ROI?
Manage your apprenticeships easily and affordably with Rubitek, a highly intuitive software solution, developed in consultation with employers, learners and training providers. You can read more about Rubitek here.