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Why employing an apprentice could be right for your business

Employing an apprentice could be hugely beneficial for your business. Even if you don’t immediately realise it, running an apprenticeship scheme at your company could not only improve the job market for young people, it will be financially beneficial investment.

Before you dismiss the idea, explore why apprentices are such a valuable resource and what they might be able to do for your business.

UK business are going to need more apprentices

Though there are several incentives in the UK to encourage businesses to take on apprentices, the number of young people starting apprenticeshipsafter completing traineeships has dropped below one in five to 17.6% according to FE employment experts AoC Jobs.

This is a shame, as news updates on the UK economy from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) are increasingly pointing towards a difficult future for the British businesses they represent, with skills shortages only set to worsen. Making it easier to take on more apprentices is one step to helping many of them.

Apprentices are keen workers, without any learned bad habits

One of the biggest advantages of running an apprenticeship scheme is the opportunity it gives you to train up a new employee almost from scratch. Unlike more experienced job candidates, apprentices have no hardwired working practices or bad habits built up over the years. Workflow-wise, an apprentice is a blank slate. They will learn to do their job in exactly the way you tell them to do their job.

What apprentices may lack in work experience, they will certainly make up for in openness to learn and ability to soak up new information and pick up new practices. With no background in work, apprentices can become fully immersed in your business culture, eventually making them the perfect members of your team.

Apprentices are great investments

Hiring an apprentice can pay off in many ways. As mentioned, they can be trained up to work just the way you want them to, with the potential to them becoming full members of the team when the apprenticeship is over. This has a financial benefit too as it saves on the time and money it would take to hire a more experienced employee in the future.

If you are worried that you can’t afford an apprentice, there are government grants that can help you. The grants in Greater Manchester, Sheffield City Region, West Yorkshire, the West of England, Liverpool, Tees Valley, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are managed locally, so details there may vary. For the rest of the country, the government will give a business a grant of £1,500 after each apprentice completes a 13-week in-house training program.

Grants aside, employing an apprentice can save you money in wages too. You are legally obliged to pay apprentices minimum wage, but minimum wage for an under 19 year-old is a lot lower than minimum wage for someone over 25. According to the National Minimum Wage calculator, you must pay 16-19 year-old apprentices at least £3.50 an hour.

Apprentice recruitment is increasingly regarded as responsible business practice

Perhaps surprisingly, running an apprenticeship scheme can actually act as a great form of PR for your business. With companies facing more pressure than ever to adopt responsible business practices, a highly visible apprenticeship program could be just the thing you need to make sure your business is seen as ethical and beneficial to the community.

According to Apprenticeships for Business, apprenticeships “offer huge social impact and at the same time solve your junior recruitment needs in a low risk, cost effective and socially responsible way.”

With youth unemployment figures on the rise (in the last quarter, at least), apprenticeships present the answer to a growing problem. In particular, they are great opportunities for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, who perhaps cannot afford to go to university and would prefer to develop their skills on the job.

The ethical element of apprenticeship schemes is increasingly becoming one of the most attractive aspects for employers.

Are apprenticeships right for your business?

With all these advantages, it is definitely worth considering whether your business could start an apprenticeship scheme of its own, but you have to be sure that it’s right for your organisation.

Though larger engineering companies are perhaps the best-known employers of apprentices, there are an increasing number of small businesses taking on apprentices of their own. In some cases when a high level of skill and experience is required, apprenticeships will obviously not be ideal. But for small businesses who want to train up new staff, and start to pass their business down to a younger generation in a cost-effective way, apprenticeships could be perfect.

The chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses told The Guardian, “Often small businesses that take on one apprentice find the experience so rewarding that they take on others once the apprentice has qualified.” Maybe you will do the same.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Caitlyn Stevens .

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