The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has published a report findings concluding only around 24% of small and medium-sized businesses currently employ an apprentice. Approximately 1,000,000 apprentices throughout the U.K. They believe now is the time to take on an apprentice.
A growing number of school leavers are now pursuing apprenticeships. In the academic year 2014-2015, the number of under 19s starting an apprenticeship increased by 5.1% on the previous year, and in 2013-2014 the number increased by 4.6%. This trend is expected to continue, as university fees increase, and graduate job opportunities are stagnant, and the prospect of university or college becomes less attractive to young people, good candidates are actively looking for new opportunities to begin their career.
“A Really Positive Step”
Small businesses with under 50 employees taking on apprentice(s) will not be required to contribute towards the cost of training. Also, Local authorities often have an allowance to subsidise a percentage of the wage cost.
Many small businesses are confused by the process. However, at Sixth Sense training we have the expertise to walk you step by step through the whole process. Your motivation for taking on an apprentice may vary. Motivation may range from a commitment to giving young people good training opportunities to the cost-effectiveness of hiring an apprentice.
Those who have already taken on apprentices say that looking beyond graduates can have huge benefits. “It’s been a really positive step for us,” says Hugh Wade-Jones, founding partner of mortgage broker Enness, which takes on around three to four apprentices per year. Not all are school leavers one particularly successful former apprentice is ex-army.
“Initially we recruited from within the industry but we found that people had bad habits [such as poor interactions with clients or poor presentation skills] and weren’t trained to a satisfactory level,” Wade-Jones says. “It was very difficult to get people to adapt, particularly if they had been in a large bank or organisation. [Apprenticeships have] given us access to individuals that we wouldn’t have found within the industry. Now we have people who are Enness people. We are now able to train our own rather than guys who have worked at three or four different companies.”
79% of apprentices are recruited as a new employee. However, an apprenticeship is available to develop your current employee’s skills and gain a nationally recognised qualification.
How can a small business make apprenticeships work?
So how can a small business make apprenticeships work? “A close partnership with the training provider, and carefully supervising the apprentice”, says Petra Wilton, Director of Strategy and external affairs at the Chartered Management Institute. She adds that “businesses need to give the training provider regular feedback on the apprentice’s performance.”
Having an apprentice is not, she says, a quick win. “There can be a downside in terms of the initial investment in time to understand what’s right for your business. So you need to be aware of the management time, which is needed to support an apprentice, and you do need to commit resources to support them. But that’s generally hugely outweighed by the benefit. Hence, in the medium and longer term, apprentices can add real value back to the business.”
If you wish to take on an apprentice please contact us on 01355 698011.