We’re currently gripped by the new season of The Apprentice. Here at Policy Expert HQ, we’ve even got a sweepstake in place – I’ve got Christopher Farrell, so if he’s the winner of the show, I’m a winner too!
As a nation, we regularly tune in to see this group of bright-eyed, ambitious hopefuls undertake a range of tasks to impress the renowned business brain that is Lord Sugar.
But the benefits of an apprenticeship are not merely reserved for the ratings pull of reality TV. Hiring an apprentice for your business could make financial sense and be a real benefit to your everyday business activity.
Apprenticeships are work-based training programmes that give candidates ‘on-the-job’ experience. This hands-on training is often supported by an element of college study. The training is normally based around the needs of the employer and can lead to nationally recognised qualifications.
A learning provider in your area may be able to provide an employer representative to help guide you through the process. They can help you decide on the type of apprenticeship that could suit your business, arrange a training plan and seek out any possible funding available.
The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) aims to increase the number of apprenticeship opportunities and provide a simple, online matching service for employers and hopeful apprentices.
There are great benefits for employers in taking on an apprentice. Firstly, they can be a cost-effective way to improve productivity. They will normally cost your business much less than hiring skilled, experienced staff – helping to lower recruitment costs.
Apprentices can be used to fill gaps in your company’s skill set. They can adapt to fit the needs of your business and also learn specialist skills you may be lacking in your organisation. Apprentices are usually keen to learn and normally remain loyal to the company who supported them. Any money you put into an apprenticeship is likely to bring you positive, long-term commitment.
The energy and eagerness of an apprentice can have a beneficial impact on the morale and motivation of other staff. Existing staff can take on leadership and mentoring roles, which can lead to a more enriched workforce.
Statistics on the NAS website show the positive response from employers about their apprentices. Research conducted by Populus states that around 80% of employers asked believe apprenticeships lower staff turnover. 88% say that apprenticeships lead to a more motivated, satisfied workforce while 77% claim apprentices make their business more competitive. In addition, 81% of consumers apparently favour organisations who have taken on apprentices.
It’s important to think about all the costs involved in taking on an apprentice. The outlay in wages may be low but there could be additional expenses involved in training and mentoring your apprentice . Also, think about the time that you and your business would need to allocate to their development.
If your business already has staff, you should already have employers liability insurance in place. It’s likely that your apprentice will be covered by this existing policy, but if in doubt – check with your business insurance provider. If you’re thinking of taking on an apprentice as your first employee – make sure you have employers liability cover, even if they’re only with the company for a short time. If your apprentice suffers illness or injury as a result of working for you, you may need to call upon this insurance policy.
Hiring an apprentice could be very productive for your organisation and could be well worth considering. However, bear in mind that it may be difficult avoiding the temptation to shout, “you’re fired” at any given opportunity!