Even despite the recent changes to the Apprenticeship scheme, employers are taking up the chance of hiring fresh-from-school or fresh-from-college talent for their businesses.
The Apprenticeship system still offers young people the chance to enter into the manual skills or labour sector of the workforce. However now, Apprenticeships have been designed to fit every sector of the economy with over 1,500 courses available across 170 different business sectors.
Today, most apprenticeships are taken in IT and business administration roles and the latest forecasts suggest that this trend will continue.
Is it worth it for your company? As with many public sector inspired schemes, there is paperwork and administration involved. A lot of that is now managed for employers by specialist apprentice recruitment and placement companies which offer management support for SME owners who want to add an apprentice to their staff numbers.
In this article, the SMART Team looks at everything you need to know about hiring an apprentice.
Taking on an apprentice – what are the benefits?
Employing people is hard enough. Your employees are your biggest asset although sometimes, many employers feel that they are their biggest liability.
Imagine taking on someone who really wants to work and has had no influences, positive or negative, on the world of work from previous employers. Apprentices are, in the nicest possible way, blank slates onto which you can imprint the skillset needed for your individual business’s requirements.
If you have a skills shortage and you’re willing to put the time in, you can plug gaps in your business’s capacity by taking on an enthusiastic apprentice and training them up.
They bring youth and a different point of view to a company. For a family run business or a company where the staffing has been settled for years, bringing in new blood to the company can add an extra energy and excitement to the workplace.
Every now and again, your apprentice will need to leave your workplace and study at college. The 1,700 courses that are available are heavily researched and up to date – so, not only is your apprentice an untainted fresh set of eyes on your company and the way you do things, but they can bring in brand new skills which can be turned, over time, into customer-facing products and services to be sold for profit.
According to the National Apprenticeship service, an average apprentice will boost company productivity by £214 a week. There are financial benefits to your business – it’s not just about doing your bit as a company to help the country develop the next generation of talented workers.
Taking on an apprentice – how do I sign my business up?
Once you’ve made the decision to take an apprentice on, you need to decide on what level of qualification you want them to study for. These are your choices:
- Intermediate – Level 2
This is equivalent to the educational level of 5 passes at GCSE, Grades A-C
- Advanced – Level 3
This is equivalent to the educational level of 2 A-Level passes
- Higher – Levels 4, 5, 6, and 7
These are equivalent to the educational level of foundation degree and above
Some apprenticeship companies also offer certain Advanced Level course as an optional module. This is to give the system flexibility so if you find yourself with an employee with a particular thirst for knowledge and drive to succeed, you can accommodate them better.
The best way to start your company’s apprenticeship scheme is with the National Apprenticeship Service. On their site, you can advertise your vacancy and access a very large database of potential local candidates.
Taking on an apprentice – what is it going to cost?
From April 2018, the Apprentice Minimum Wage is £3.70 per hour.
Apprentices receive this if they’re either aged under 19 or aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship. After the first year has ended and if they are 19 or above at the end of the first year, they will then be paid the National Minimum Wage commensurate with their age at the time.
You have to employ your apprentice for 30 hours a week and make sure that they receive the same benefits as all your other employees.
Taking on an apprentice – funding and the Apprenticeship Levy
From April 2017, if your wage bill is over £3,000,000 a year, you must set aside 0.5% of that for the Apprenticeship Levy. If your company’s wage bill is lower than that amount, you must pay for 10% of the cost of the apprentice’s training program (the Government pays the remaining 90%).
To encourage employers to take on apprentices between the age of 16 and 18, the government will give £1,000 to any business for every apprentice hired. Half is paid in month 3 and the other half in month 12. You can also receive the same benefits for apprentices aged 19-24 who have a health, care, or education plan.
For apprentices under the age of 25, you do not have to pay National Insurance Employers’ Contributions.
Taking on an apprentice – talk to us
If you’d like to talk about the financial and operational consequences involved in taking on an apprentice before you take the next step and contact an apprentice recruitment and placement company, please call 01202 577 500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for any help and advice you may need.