The way in which apprenticeships are being viewed is changing, students and their parents are viewing the role of apprenticeships as a much more probable and positive route to a successful and prosperous career path. The notion of getting a university education to find good career prospects is not now the only popular one, with 42% of young people of the opinion that an apprenticeship and university degree hold equal worth and 45% of parents believing that university degrees are worth less than they used to be.
The Government appeared to put its support behind apprenticeships too with the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy - a tax, or 'investment' towards funds for training apprentices; these funds can now be accessed so we should experience more businesses ready to hire apprentices. Despite this, the Government also recently produced figures stating a decrease in the number of apprenticeships undertaken compared to the previous November, 2016. Around 50% of employers paying the levy, on the other hand, are intending to hire more apprentices over the next 5 years.
Why is this such a good thing?
Why is a rise in employing apprentices a good thing? The role of apprenticeships can help to close the skills gap; there are many industries experiencing a skills gap, digital and tech related industries specifically. By employing apprentices in these industries companies are not waiting for x amount of years for the next batch of freshly trained university students to fill the roles, they are already training their apprentices in the skills which are experiencing a shortage, closing the gap more promptly.
Let's look at the positives of the apprenticeship for your client and for the apprentice, you may, after all, be promoting these aspects to prospective candidates.
The monetary draw; rather than slowly but surely building a pile of debt while studying, apprentices can be earning while they learn. Despite once being seen as 'cheap labour', apprentices are given a valuable education as they work, trained as they work on their feet, gaining all important experience in their chosen industry.
For your client, apprenticeships can often be seen as a less expensive hire, this is due to the inexperience of the candidates they take on. Underpaying your staff is never going to build a strong sense of loyalty or job satisfaction, but apprentices usually start off on a lower wage, with possibilities to earn more ahead of them as their skills develop. This lack of initial skill or training can work as a second positive for your client too, they have a blank canvas, so to speak; this new member of staff can be moulded and taught as they require.
Apprentices, by nature are a young breed, and although perhaps yet unskilled in the area of your clients' expertees, they will have a fresh approach which should not be ignored.
What's different when hiring an apprentice?
Is hiring an apprentice not just like hiring any member of staff? In some ways, yes, but it's not exactly the same. Apprentices have slightly different working rights, not hugely but it is worth knowing the employer obligations before undertaking an apprenticeship in the first place. It's important to be clear from the beginning about working hours and level of pay (as it always is) and you may need to be prepared for regular evaluations of their performance.
Studying and training will of course be part of the apprenticeship laid out, but the new apprentice may need extra training in certain aspects of your business specifically, and it is a good idea to get them up to date with all relevant training or workshops other staff might be attending - in terms of retaining them as an employee, they will feel more valued and invested in.
Apprenticeships are on the rise, so getting up to date with the pros, cons and regulations now could pay off when your next client comes looking to employ an apprentice.