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Apprenticeships – The Way Forward

Wouldn't it be great if Lord Sugar was still looking for a real apprentice, someone who was a bit rough round the edges, perhaps a bit inexperienced, but showed some spark and potential and willingness to be developed?

Well there are still plenty of employers in the UK who are looking for just that so the Government has kept them at the heart of their Skills for Growth strategy, and made the process a little easier for employers. Business Secretary Vince Cable has said, “Apprenticeships are an increasingly effective training route for young people and companies. They are a proven way to fill skills gaps in our economy.” And to back this all up the Government part funds an apprenticeship offered to 16 – 24 year old by way of a grant to employers who have up to 1000 employees. This is an individual value of £1,500, for employers; in London an enhancement of £3,000 is available. Over 100,000 employers are using this to their advantage, using apprenticeships to attract new talent, re-skill existing staff and tackle skill shortages.

I hear so many times that employers haven’t got the time to train up a novice and need someone who can come in and, “hit the ground running” and I can understand that. It does take time to bring a trainee up to speed, but if we do take the time to do so what are the benefits of taking on an apprentice?

If you recruit the right raw materials and grow your own talent, apprenticeship schemes can bring productive, enthusiastic and loyal people into your business who will demonstrate commitment to the task in hand. Can you always say that about fully qualified people or do they leave as soon as a better offer comes along?

Research by Apprenticeships UK suggests that nearly every employer that takes on an apprentice reports benefits to their business (96%). 72% of businesses report improved productivity, two thirds of employers say they have had improved product service, improved staff morale and retention and even the introduction from the apprentices of new ideas. And the British Chamber of Commerce say most employers who employ an apprentice improve the skills base within their businesses by molding someone with real potential into the ways of the business under the guidelines of the Apprenticeship programme. That can’t be bad!

When taking on an apprentice though make sure that the terms and conditions of employment (an Apprenticeship Agreement) are tailored for that apprentice. It must state that he is undertaking an apprenticeship scheme; and although he should be treated in the same way as a permanent employee, he is entitled to additional rights, for example:

  • to be offered an minimum of 30 hours employment, including the day at college;
  • he cannot be dismissed before the end of the Apprenticeship, even on the grounds of redundancy – however he can still be dismissed for reasons of gross misconduct;
  • the right of study time before an exam or assessment.

Not everyone wants to go to university to get on in life, and many graduates may be clever but not have an ounce of common sense or a good work ethic. These could be found in abundance in someone such as an apprentice.

If you want any advice on bringing talent into your organisation, get in touch.

Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in HR solutions, employment law training and HR tools and resources to businesses across the UK.

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