Following the success of National Apprenticeship Week, we spoke to employers across the country to find out why apprentices work for them.
Many thousands of firms – one in five, in fact – are already enjoying the numerous benefits of taking on an apprentice. Apprenticeships make great business sense because they help employers to:
In the current economic climate, making the most of such advantages has never been more important. It has never been easier either, thanks to the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in 2017 and the wide array of funding opportunities on offer.
Eligible employers can get up to 100% of their training costs paid for by government, and CITB has recently announced another major boost in apprenticeship grant funding, with up to £14,500 available for each apprentice employers take on.
Construction employers often say that it isn’t easy finding people with the skills they need, when they need them. But taking on an apprentice goes a long way towards finding long-lasting solutions.
“With the ever-looming skills gap affecting the industry, vacancies are getting harder to fill,” says Debbie Rutherford, Community Benefits Advisor with Graham.
“By recruiting apprentices, you get the chance to train people to have the exact skills you need for your business. Ultimately, it’s a wise investment in the future of your business.”
“It’s a wise investment in the future of your business”
“Through apprenticeships, we get to take on new staff who are keen to learn on the job and gain a qualification while working,” says Alex Campbell, Business Manager at J Carey Design in Yorkshire. “In return we get a motivated member of the team with the skills tailored not just to our industry but our individual company.”
Barry Dodds, Contracts Manger at NRT Carpentry Contractors in Surrey agrees: “It enables us to train and mould the individual to our company’s specific ways.”
This is a huge advantage over ordinary recruitment which sometimes leads to employers trying to shoehorn outsiders into roles that their skills don’t quite match.
“We’ve not only supported apprentices with their academic and practical learning to fulfil their role, but done it so they can carry it out in a way that’s true to our culture and values,” says Mark Bramley, Commercial Director of Pat Munro, from Ross-shire in Scotland. “This wouldn’t have been so straightforward had we taken a graduate or someone with experience of working elsewhere.”
“We get a motivated member of the team with the skills tailored to our company”
“Our apprentices bring an enthusiasm and hunger to learn – and a freshness and openness that enable them to fit in easily,” Mark says. “Additionally, with our apprentices generally being 16 to 25 years old, they’ve also had an unanticipated positive effect on the dynamics of the team, with their differing outlook, vibrancy and general positivity.”
The majority of employers report similar benefits. In fact, nine out of ten say their apprentices have improved workplace productivity, and three-quarters said apprentices had improved the quality of their products or services.
“The injection of youthful talent has added a whole new dimension to our workplace, bringing fresh perspective and new ideas,” Debbie Rutherford says.
Barry Dodds adds, “We have gained some fantastic, homegrown talent who show a real passion to progress in their chosen trade and also as a fully integrated part of our team.”
“The injection of youthful talent has added a whole new dimension to our workplace, bringing fresh perspective and new ideas”
Hiring an apprentice is an investment – and one with good returns. On top of financial benefits in the medium and long term, the government reckons that most employers recoup costs within a year or two.
Three-quarters of employers say that hiring an apprentice has helped them save on recruitment costs, not least through better retention rates and staff loyalty.
“We have a very high apprentice retention rate, and are extremely proud of this,” Debbie Rutherford says.
“Taking on apprentices does require some investment of time from people within the business to mentor them and offer support,” Mark Bramley says. “However, that investment can undoubtedly reap rewards,” he continues. “Apprentices can become very skilled, capable and experienced individuals in their chosen field – assets who are frequently very loyal to the business that gave them their opportunity.”
“We’ve been very fortunate to have a number of excellent apprentices who have rapidly become key members of our team, and real prospects of being potential business leaders of the future.”
“The investment can undoubtedly reap rewards”
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