Apprenticeships have long been recognised as cheap labour for growing firms, however the benefits of having an apprentice stretch far beyond financial savings.
Firstly, apprenticeships can help in tackling the skills gap. In recent years there has been a big increase in the percentage of school students going on to university. However, many students are graduating with non-vocational degrees that have no relevance to their future career or job path, adding to the skills shortage and making it difficult for graduates to find jobs. By hiring an apprentice you’re able to train that employee up to meet specific skill sets and essentially create a future-proofed workforce tailored to the needs of your company. Apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular in notoriously competitive fields such as technology and engineering, where talent is scarce and salaries are high, so hiring can be expensive and time consuming.
Secondly, apprentices can help by freeing up existing staff time. Often, as a business grows, staff will spend a lot of time carrying out mundane but necessary tasks when they could be concentrating on more important areas of their work. Through delegating these tasks to apprentices, they are able to learn and take on responsibilities while your existing staff can carry out the more skilled tasks which are likely to be more profitable for your business.
Thirdly, If your business struggles with a high staff turnover, then apprenticeships could be for you. In most cases, employees that have been trained in-house tend to be highly motivated and committed to the company. This tactic can also be used on existing members of staff; by offering them an apprenticeship it shows that you see them as an integral part of the workforce and you’re happy to invest in them. Statistics from the National Apprenticeship Service show that 92% of employers who have taken on apprentices noticed a more satisfied and motivated workforce and 80% saw a big increase in employee retention.
You can get help from the government to pay for apprenticeship training. The amount you receive depends on whether you pay the apprenticeship levy or not. You pay the levy if you’re an employer with a pay bill over £3 million each year.
If you don’t need to pay the levy, you only have to pay 10% of the cost of the training and assessing of your apprentice, while the remaining 90% is paid by the government. This is known as “co-investment”.
Apprentices in their first year have a different rate of minimum wage; as well as being entitled to holiday pay and sick pay, you must also allow them the appropriate amount of paid study time for them to be able to complete their training.
You may be able to offset some of your costs with grants and other schemes – it’s worth checking with your local council or apprenticeship training provider for information about the schemes that are available to you.
- If you’re an employer you could get up to £3000 a year off your National Insurance bill.
- You can claim Employment Allowance if you’re a business or charity paying employers Class 1 National Insurance.
- You can also claim if you employ a care or support worker. If you have more than one employer PAYE reference, you can only claim Employment Allowance against one of them.
Apprenticeship Training Agencies
If you don’t have the resources in-house to provide training, or you don’t want the responsibility of running an apprenticeship scheme, you can use an apprenticeship training agency. They will help you find an apprentice and take care of the training and assessment side of things, while you provide the on-the-job experience and support.
ATAs can open apprenticeship opportunities for smaller businesses that may not have the available funds or resources to train an apprentice in-house. This approach offers many benefits to the employer including:
- Recruitment support – finding the right apprentice for you based on your needs without the cost of traditional recruitment;
- Training and assessment – provides the training, support and supervision needed to guide the apprentice through the program;
- Flexibility – allows the employer to take on a junior member of staff who can learn and advance quickly without the hassle of organising and overseeing training in-house.
There is an official Government ATA Register
All ATAs listed on the register have been through an application process with the ESFA that considers due diligence, financial management and operational details.