03 March 2014

Should you take on an apprentice?

To mark the start of National Apprenticeship Week this wee, we look at how taking on an apprentice can benefit your company.

Today is the start of National Apprenticeship Week, which aims to encourage firms to consider getting involved in the Government's apprenticeship scheme. To mark the week, a new website is being launched to help small businesses who want to take on apprentices.

Business Secretary Vince Cable has admitted that smaller employers have been more reluctant to get involved, saying: “For those small and medium-sized enterprises who just take one or two people a year, it’s a big step.” He adds

The real need is to get SMEs to offer apprenticeships and not just larger companies.

The new website, called Apprenticemakers, aims to bring together both existing and potential apprentice employers.

It is a response to Government research which claimed more peer-to-peer support was necessary if small businesses were to be persuaded to take on apprentices.

Financial support

There is some financial support for small businesses who take on apprentices. Employers may be eligible for a £1,500 apprenticeship grant if they are taking on an apprentice aged 16 to 24 for the first time and have fewer than 1,000 employees.

Funding is also available to cover training costs and is paid to the organisation that provides and supports the apprenticeship.

Benefits of employing apprentices

1. New ideas

Bringing young people into your work environment can bring a fresh perspective and new suggestions. If you only have a small team, it can be both exciting and positive to get a different opinion and a youthful outlook on what you are doing, often sparking a boost in staff productivity.

2. Increased productivity

Hiring an apprentice is a cost-effective way of increasing your workforce. Research found that over 80% of businesses that employed apprentices found their productivity had increased as a result. And the average apprentice increases productivity by £214 a week, while the minimum wage is just £2.68 an hour for 16 to 18-year-olds.

3. Positive long-term development

Taking on apprentices can help you improve the range of skills you have within your organisation. It also encourages you to look at the way you do things because you are passing on your wisdom and expertise to people keen to learn the trade or business, enhancing your own skill development. Simply taking a closer look at what you do and why can lead to you making improvements and becoming more efficient. 

As well as helping you to gain the right kind of skills you need for your business, it can also aid staff retention, providing you with skills staff for the future. According to a survey from the Learning and Skills Council, 74% of companies surveyed said that apprentices tended to be more loyal, than non-apprentices.