28 June 2019
If you’re looking for young, hungry and talented individuals to help push your business forward, an apprentice might be the answer.
Indeed, figures released by the Department of Education earlier this year show a 10% increase in apprenticeship starts between August 2018 and January 2019.
In this article we’ll look at the potential benefits and possible pitfalls of recruiting an apprentice and shed some light on why so many SMEs are now looking to recruit in this way.
What’s an Apprentice
Before we dive into the pros and cons, it’s worth considering what the term actually means.
An apprentice is defined as ‘a person learning a trade or profession from a skilled employer, having agreed to work for a fixed period at low wages’.
To be eligible for an apprenticeship an individual needs to be 16 or over and not in full-time education.
They must also undertake a sufficient amount of training during their paid hours of work to successfully complete their apprenticeship.
Here’s what else you need to know:
1. Apprentices are full employees and must be offered a minimum of 30 hours per week of employment.
2. An apprentice is entitled to a National Minimum Wage of £3.90. However, most employees pay above this amount.
3. It is important that your apprentice is given a role within your organisation that enables them to gain knowledge and skills.
4. Apprentices are employed directly under an Apprenticeship Agreement or via an Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA).
Benefits of Recruiting an Apprentice
If you’re toying with the idea of bringing an apprentice into your business, here’s a rundown of the main positives:
1. Introducing a motivated apprentice can have a positive impact on your wider workforce. With their fresh perspective and new ideas bringing a new energy into your business.
2. Recruiting somebody when they’re at the start of their career is a great way of improving staff retention. Indeed, numerous surveys have arrived at the same conclusion – apprentices tend to stick around far longer than non-apprentices.
3. Employing an apprentice is a smart strategy for future-proofing your business. With a steady stream of tech-savvy employees potentially giving you a competitive edge over your rivals.
Potential Drawbacks of Hiring Apprentices
1. If you’re seriously looking at the apprenticeship route it’s important you consider the time and effort required from the senior members of your team. Providing the right level of support and mentoring requires significant input from key individuals within your business.
2. You’ll want to ensure that nurturing and developing an apprentice aligns with your medium and long-term business goals.
3. With a lack of experience often comes a lack of commercial understanding. Again, this needs to be carefully considered before you begin the recruitment process.
Links, Resources and Other Useful Pieces of Information
Gov.uk does a good job of explaining the finer details of taking on an apprentice. This information can be accessed here.
If you’re looking to work alongside an ATA to bring an apprentice onboard, a government approved list can be found here.
Great Business also has a comprehensive list of useful apprenticeship articles and links.
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