When you reach a point where you can’t take on any more work until you grow your team, you might wonder if hiring an apprentice is the right way to go.
An apprentice is as useful an option as any other. While they might not be as experienced as a fully-trained employee, you can shape them to fill any specialist role in your business.
It can be a good investment to get an apprentice on board, as they can add true value to your company once fully trained. So, what are the pros and cons of hiring an apprentice?
Hiring an apprentice will save you money, as the majority are young college or school leavers with limited experience. They will work for a lower wage as part of their training, so the employer won’t have to find a typical annual salary.
An apprentice can be anyone over the age of 16 who isn’t in full-time education. The government will help by providing some funding towards the costs. The Apprenticeship Levy means qualifying businesses have to pay only 5% towards the cost of training and assessing an apprentice. The government will pay the remaining 95%.
There are two legal forms of apprenticeship, both of which enable a young person to gain a profession or qualification on the job. The first, a Common Law Apprenticeship, is a traditional contract of apprenticeship, governed by the common law.
The second, a Statutory Apprenticeship, is governed by the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009. The Statutory Apprenticeship is the most common type, as it has similar rules of management as a regular employee’s contract. The Common Law Apprenticeship comes with different obligations.
Providing a new perspective
Apprentices are willing to do different types of tasks that more senior employees in specialist roles may not get around to tackling, leaving them with more time to focus on particular skills, while the apprentice learns the ropes. This can improve productivity and morale throughout the whole team.
An apprentice provides a fresh pair of eyes on how things work, giving you a new perspective. They may look at your processes in a different way. This can be beneficial for everyone and the company as a whole.
Younger workers also tend to have strong technology skills, bringing a new dynamic and energy to an existing team, especially when it comes to SMEs. In fact, research shows eight out of ten companies that take on apprentices have enjoyed a significant increase in employee retention.
It’s a serious commitment taking on an apprentice. Unlike when you hire a trained employee, an apprentice can’t hit the ground running. They must be supervised at all times. You must dedicate significant time to their training on an ongoing basis.
Even the simplest of things, such as phone and email protocol, workplace etiquette and company culture are things that must be learned. The employer must put in the time to train them properly in all aspects of the job. Only then can you begin to give them everyday tasks to complete without supervision.
You will need to be prepared for some mistakes, even with the most thorough training!
When you train an apprentice well, you hope they’ll stay with your firm when qualified. However, be prepared that they could leave you when their training is complete. While every employer hopes for loyalty, there are no guarantees.
If your newly-qualified apprentice leaves to work for someone else, this can be incredibly frustrating after you’ve invested in their training and moulded them to fit your company.
Although it’s a risk, statistics show nine out of ten apprentices stay on after their apprenticeship is completed. When an employer has taken the time to properly mentor them and build up a good relationship, there’s less chance they will leave.
Taking on an apprentice in a coworking environment can benefit both the trainee and the company. It helps young people to gain valuable skills and training in a collaborative and supportive workspace that can inspire them.
Young workers aged from 16 to 24 can thrive in a coworking environment where creative talent is fostered. Coworking members and apprentices work side-by-side in an atmosphere that reflects the workspace’s character and inspires everyone’s creative spirit.
When considering an apprentice, ensure both the apprentice and the employer are on the same page when it comes to college expectations. Apprenticeships offer a structured programme, enabling your apprentice to work towards their qualifications by studying, learning new skills and completing practical assessments.
The apprentice often receives training at college on a day-release basis, working towards a nationally-recognised qualification. Apprenticeships usually take between one and four years to complete, so this is a big commitment for an employer.
How much money can a business save?
Apprentices are usually paid minimum wage, so a company can make significant savings. However, some apprentices earn more. The outlay is worth it to hang onto them if they’re a good worker, as it’s an investment in your company’s future.
A survey by the UK Commission on Employment found 88% of employers felt apprenticeships were a cost-effective way of training new staff.
Apprentices normally work for a minimum of 30 hours per week and a maximum of 40. However, time spent at college is included in the total hours. Some companies agree to part-time apprenticeships at a minimum of 16 hours per week if the apprentice has other responsibilities at home. It’s really a case of what is mutually beneficial for the apprentice and the employer.
Research shows almost 30% of apprentices don’t complete their apprenticeship. According to government statistics, the main reasons are personal and domestic, with 13% citing ill health and 13% citing family problems as the reason.
Some had issues with their chosen course, stating it didn’t interest them, it was poorly run or it just wasn’t suitable for the outcome they required. Of the apprentices who completed their training, 90% progressed to a higher role in the company.
© goodluz / Shutterstock.com