Apprenticeships offer a unique opportunity for small businesses to grow skilled talent from the ground up. This blend of on-the-job training and formal, industry-recognised qualifications provides a strong learning experience for apprentices while delivering significant advantages for your company.

Here at Your Company Formations, we understand the challenges and rewards of running a small business. We firmly believe apprenticeships can be a game-changer, building a future-proof workforce while addressing your immediate, hands-on employment needs.

In this post, we will look at how apprenticeships can benefit your business, including:
  • Developing a skilled workforce: Apprentices bring fresh perspectives and enthusiasm, eager to learn and contribute. You will have the chance to shape and develop their skills and knowledge, moulding them to fit perfectly with your company's specific needs.
  • Cost-effective talent recruitment: Compared to traditional employee hiring methods, apprenticeships offer a cost-efficient solution. Government incentives and funding opportunities further help to make hiring staff a more affordable option for small business owners still growing their businesses.
  • Boosting productivity and morale: Apprentices bring fresh new energy, attitudes and ideas, injecting your team with new perspectives. Their progress and development can create a positive and motivating environment, solidifying teamwork and boosting productivity.
  • Building loyalty and long-term commitment: Investing in your employees' futures builds loyalty and dedication to your company. Apprentices trained within your company are more likely to stay for the long term, becoming even more valuable assets as they progress their skills and knowledge.

We will also look at the practical aspects of implementing an apprenticeship training programme, addressing your financial concerns and worries about whether you can afford to take on staff this early in your journey.

A Guide to Apprenticeship Levels in the UK

Apprenticeships cover a vast range of fields. Whether you run a business in engineering, digital marketing, healthcare, or even childcare, there is likely an apprenticeship suitable for your business. The Government has published a helpful list called the A to Z of apprenticeships, compiled by the National Apprenticeship Service, which will give you a good insight into what is available in your industry or sector if you want to take on an apprentice.

Let's explore the apprenticeship levels available:
  • Intermediate Level 2 (GCSE equivalent): This is a fantastic entry point, perfect for taking on school leavers or someone considering a career change. Your apprentice will be expected to develop foundational skills while gaining valuable work experience.
  • Advanced Level 3 (A-Level equivalent): This level requires existing qualifications (like GCSEs) and digs deeper into specific skilled job roles.
  • Higher Level 4 & 5 (Higher Education equivalent): If you are looking to recruit someone to train for a degree qualification in your field, Level 4 and 5 apprenticeships combine professional work with earning a recognised qualification, often equivalent to the first year of a degree or a foundation degree.
  • Degree Level 6 & 7 (Degree equivalent): This top-level apprenticeship allows your recruit to earn a full bachelor's or even master's degree through your apprenticeship. Perfect for motivated individuals seeking integrated, hands-on experience and a complete qualification.

Taking on an apprentice is an investment in the future of your business. Choose the apprentice entry-level wisely. Carefully research and explore the level you want to offer so you attract the right candidate to meet the needs of your growing business.

Six Reasons Why Apprenticeships Can Boost Your Small Business

Taking on an apprentice has many benefits for a small business owner looking to grow their company by taking on employees without breaking the bank. Apprenticeships go beyond just filling vacant job roles – they create a mutually beneficial partnership between your business and young, energetic, enthusiastic individuals seeking to start their careers.

Here are six reasons why bringing an apprentice onto your team can be a game-changer:

1: Cultivate the Skills You Need:

Identify critical skills missing in your team and utilise apprenticeship programmes to develop them from the ground up. With so many apprenticeship standards to choose from, there is guaranteed to be one perfectly aligned with your business goals.

2: Cost-Effective Talent Acquisition:

Apprenticeships offer a budget-friendly approach to talent development. Funding and grants are often available, and the apprentice rate is lower than regular salaries (especially in the first year). Additionally, most training costs are government-funded, helping you upskill your team without breaking the bank.

3: Boost Productivity with Enthusiasm:

Apprentices bring a burst of eagerness to learn and contribute. Their passion for their chosen field, combined with the support of your experienced team, translates to greater productivity and a positive work environment.

4: Foster Loyalty and Build Your Future:

Apprenticeships provide a solid foundation for long-term employment. Studies show that 90% of apprentices stay with their companies after completing their qualifications, becoming valuable assets well-versed in your company culture.

5: Inject Fresh Perspectives & Diversify Your Team:

Apprentices can bring innovative ideas and diverse experiences, enriching your team dynamic. Whether they are young, tech-savvy individuals or seasoned professionals seeking a career shift, they offer unique perspectives that can propel your business forward.

6: Tailor-Made for Your Needs:

Today's apprenticeship programmes offer a vast range of options, from finance and marketing to manufacturing and engineering. You can choose a provider and standard that perfectly aligns with your specific needs and training requirements.

Funding your apprenticeship

As an employer, you will be able to choose the training your recruit receives during their apprenticeship. The Government requires that all new starts follow an approved apprenticeship standard.

Each apprenticeship standard is set within a funding band. These bands range from £1,500 to £27,000. The funding band sets the maximum amount that:

  • An employer who pays the levy can use it towards an individual apprenticeship from their apprenticeship service account.
  • The Government will contribute towards the apprenticeship where an employer:
    • Does not pay the levy
    • Has insufficient funds in their apprenticeship service account

The Government allocates new standards for a funding band once the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) has approved them for delivery. Funding bands are also reviewed regularly by the IfATE.

Step-by-step checklist for hiring an apprentice

This guide, specifically designed for small businesses with a pay bill under £3 million, simplifies the process of hiring an apprentice into seven manageable steps:

1: Create an employer account on the Apprenticeship Service, ensuring you include your PAYE and AORN numbers. Sign the employer agreement to finalise your registration.

2: Partner with Your Training Provider: Grant your chosen provider account permission to handle tasks on your behalf while maintaining your approval authority.

3: Secure Funding Support: Utilise your account to reserve government funding for training and assessment costs. Explore transfer of funds options from larger businesses. Your provider can guide you through this process.

4: Find Your Ideal Candidate: Advertise your apprenticeship on the official "Find an Apprenticeship" website. Manage applications and review candidates directly through your account.

5: Welcome Your New Apprentice: Add your chosen candidate to your account and create their apprenticeship agreement and commitment statement. Your training provider can assist with this step.

6: Reap the Rewards of Hiring: Apply for an incentive payment if eligible, recognising your commitment to developing young talent.

7: Ensure Competency Assessment: Choose an end-point assessment organisation to evaluate your apprentice's skills and readiness for their chosen field. Discuss this with your training provider early on.

By following these straightforward steps, you will be well on your way to welcoming a valuable apprentice to your team, boosting their growth, and contributing to the future of your business and the community.

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