Last Updated: Mar 18, 2021

Have You Considered Hiring an Apprentice?

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When facing the prospect of paying off many years of student debt, many would-be university students are now looking at apprenticeships as a better alternative to gaining practical work experience while studying for qualifications on the side.

From a small business owners point of view, taking on an apprentice can be a bonus too! Lets take a look at why taking on an apprentice can help a small business to grow and why you should consider hiring one yourself.

Cost-effective employment

Hiring an apprentice can be more affordable than you think. The national minimum wage for apprentices aged between 16 and 18, or 19 and over but in the first year of their apprenticeship, is just £3.50 per hour. You may be able to get additional funding to help pay for the apprentice via government Apprenticeship funding from May 2017.

Learning on the job

Because apprenticeships combine study with real-life work, they can be a very useful tool to allow small business owners to bring valuable new skills into the workplace without it costing a fortune. You are not only offering a fantastic opportunity for a young person to take their first steps into their chosen field of employment, but you will be gaining a highly skilled, experienced and competent employee at the end of the apprenticeship that is perfectly suited to your business.

The benefits of allowing an apprentice to learn on the job is so very valuable for the employer. When you are looking to hire a graduate you will never quite know you have the perfect fit until they have been working for you for a while. There will always be a period of settling in and adjustment before you end up with a productive member of staff, or even discover that you made the wrong choice. In which case you would have to start the whole hiring process all over again with another prospective candidate.

By taking on an apprentice, you will have the chance to train and shape them into your perfect employee. They will not be bringing with them bad habits from any previous experience they may have had and as they will be combining study with their apprenticeship, they will be bringing in all the latest industry standard news and information that can help keep your business updated.

Building local trust and credibility

Being recognised as a company that actively takes on apprentices will not only help those individuals into a job, but will also boost your credibility and raise your profile on a local level. For many small businesses, local custom and community feeling is an important factor. How people perceive your company can often be linked to your success. Local people will be much more inclined to purchase from you or use your services if you are recruiting apprentices locally.

What exactly is an apprenticeship?

If you are thinking about taking on an apprentice, then it is helpful to know how they work. Generally, apprenticeships can last from between one and four years. Full-time apprentices work at least 30 hours per week at the national minimum wage for their age. Part of their week will be spent studying at college for a work-based qualification and this will make up part of their paid contracted hours. So for example your apprentice may spend 20 hours per week working for your business and the remaining 10 hours studying at college or at a registered training facility.

You should treat your apprentice in the exact same way as any other employee. This means that they will be entitled to the same benefits, holiday and sick pay as other employees.

Hiring an apprentice

First of all, it helps to find out about the sort of apprenticeships already available in your business sector. This will give you a good idea about the type of apprenticeship you should be offering as well as the chances of receiving government funding for creating the position. You can find out more from here.

Once you are satisfied that you can provide an ideal apprenticeship, you will need to register you interest with the National Apprenticeship Service.

Following on from this, you will need to find a training organisation that will offer a course to suit your business needs and industry. Your apprenticeship opportunity will be advertised by the training organisation and you will be given a choice of candidates to choose from for your apprenticeship.

Once you are happy with your choice of apprentice, then you will need to draw up an apprenticeship agreement that will clearly define the role, length of apprenticeship, training received, and the relevant qualification to be worked towards. It is imperative that you get this agreement right and that the apprentice signs it. Without having a signed agreement in place could mean that you become liable to pay them the full national minimum wage according to their age.

To qualify for government funding to help pay for the apprenticeship, you need to take on someone aged between 16 and 24, and your business employs less than 50 people in total. You can apply for funding during the set up of your apprenticeship.

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