Hiring an Apprentice? Great Timing…

Are you struggling to find the right staff? Do you wish you could train employees your way from the very beginning? Have you ever considered hiring an apprentice?

Well now would be the perfect time.

Introducing The New Breed of Apprentice

Of course TV has made the term ‘Apprentice’ to be quite different from the original perception we might have had in the past. It is entertainment after all. But employers can now, once again, pass on training and experience to someone who genuinely needs a way into an industry

Move over Lord Sugar… the new breed of Apprentice has arrived.

You don’t need a large factory. You don’t even have to be a big company. The new breed of apprenticeship is more agile, more creative and eminently more attractive to all types of business.

After the election in 2010, Higher Apprenticeships had their first outing. Financial incentives were then offered to small firms hiring apprentices aged 16-24. By 2012 there were half a million apprenticeships. These were governed by minimum standards of a 30-hour working week for at least one year and that training or guided learning had to be of a sufficient number of hours and a good standard.

What Changes were Made?

The Richard Review of Apprenticeships stated that:

  • Apprenticeships should be targeted at those who are new to a job or role requiring sustained and substantial training.
  • Trusted, independent assessment is key. For example, who should assess the apprentice and what should the apprentice be able to do when they complete their training.
  • Recognised industry standards should form the basis of every apprenticeship. Employers and other organisations with relevant industry expertise were invited to design and develop new apprenticeship qualifications for their specific sectors.
  • All apprentices should attain a good level in English and Maths before completing their apprenticeship. Employers should now offer training in Maths an English to employees who have not already achieved level 2 (GCSE standard).
  • Government funding must create the right incentives for apprenticeship training. The purchasing power for investing in apprenticeship training should lie with the employer.
  • Far greater diversity and innovation in training should be encouraged – with employers and government taking a more active role in safeguarding quality.

Following these recommendations, a new funding system is currently being trialled alongside new apprenticeships designed by employer groups. This was helped by the 2016 Enterprise act becoming law in May of this year.

Among the changes in this law are a number of measures that deal with apprenticeships. For example, setting minimum standards and actually ensuring the word apprenticeship is maintained. It also sets public sector targets regarding the number of apprenticeships that are offered.

The New Breed of Apprentice is Better for Employers

These changes are tremendously beneficial. At last there is a chance for youngsters to earn while they learn, rather than study at university with no guarantee of a job afterwards.

In fact, many people are beginning to see a university education as a luxury they can’t afford. With the increase in students now attending university in the UK, competition for graduate jobs is intense. The differentiator a degree once was has all but vanished. The new breed of apprenticeships may just be what business needs.

Apprenticeships are another way. In fact, there are higher level apprenticeships that can now be found on the UCAS lists. They are equivalent to first year degree level. They are an opportunity to start work in a field that appeals and can often be a rapid way to complete training and realising potential success. For the employer hiring an apprentice is attractive in so many ways.

Benefits of Hiring an Apprentice

  • Apprentices often live in the local area.
  • Recruits are often eager to get into the world of work rather than continue studying full time. This can circumvent the skills shortages.
  • Employees don’t necessarily start at 22 immediately after university; they can start anywhere from 16-25.
  • It’s an opportunity to watch an apprentice grow in confidence knowing they have been trained in your way.
  • It broadens the pool of talent.
  • The scheme often throws up candidates that may be missed in a conventional recruitment drive.
  • It is a chance for both employer and apprentice to work together to create a truly worthwhile learning experience.
  • Apprentices get immediate exposure to company culture, language, processes and knowledge.
  • Training on the job can be more rigorous and valuable.

The accountancy firm PWC take on 1300 graduates nationwide annually. They also take on 200 school leavers and apprentices. Head of Corporate Purpose, Gaynor Bagley, was recently interviewed about her thoughts regarding the new apprenticeship scheme.

“These are degree level apprenticeships that help us find the right people. Apprenticeships are multifarious. They aren’t craft based or vocational. What they do offer is a chance for young people to start early in a career of their choice. Hiring an apprentice offers more value for employers than ever before.”

An Alternative and Quicker Route to the Top

Apprenticeships are in good shape. They allow apprentices to rotate around different roles and really get a firm grasp on every aspect of business. Many find they manage to work their way up an organisation very quickly.

Lara Winn started her Higher Apprenticeship after getting very good A level results.

“I made a decision very late on that an apprenticeship seemed to offer me something that was missing from a university based degree.” Barclays took her on, and it’s been quite a whirlwind:

“You’re thrown into deep end. There are 3-5 sectors and routes, and then we have the chance to pick one and get a fast track career. Yes, I did have a Uni place but this apprenticeship is better for me. It was quite competitive but I get to live at home. Therefore, there are no maintenance loans and I can work my way up very quickly.”

“We work very hard and have to manage our learning independently. The schemes run from September for a year. We study in blocks and have to fit the assignments around a day’s work. My scheme is run in partnership with Anglia Ruskin University. Every scheme is affiliated to an outside institution.”

“It’s manageable and it has a real sense of purpose. We study one day every other week and we work evenings too but it’s manageable. We end up learning things we don’t realise we are learning.”

Proper Apprenticeships Lead to Higher ROIs

You could say the new breed of apprentices are much more responsible about their careers. Apprentices appear to be more loyal to their employers and appreciate the relationship that develops over time. Perhaps it is time for employers to get over the notion that University degrees are the gold standard. We must accept that each individual should pick the best educational route for them personally. It’s all about nurturing capabilities, not a binary opposition or choice.

It’s time we raised the brand perception of apprenticeships. The return on investment is often higher than that of graduate schemes. If you’re an apprentice you can still go on and do a degree should you choose to, but it’s quite difficult to do an apprenticeship post degree.

By 2017 large businesses with a turnover of £3million+ will contribute payroll costs into a pool. This will be used to fund apprenticeships. It’s a half a percent levy because training apprentices is a real need. It’s not just classical training but a chance to master a job while you do it. The intention is a good one but maybe the execution still needs a little more attention. However, this new approach will encourage employers to consider what they can give and how they might benefit from such a scheme.

University has Become Prohibitive

University is now prohibitively expensive for many and the returns on a degree have been diminished as graduate numbers increase. The economics of university may not be entirely sustainable. Therefore it is worthwhile to subsidise the apprenticeship route. These will develop genuine workplace skills and the quality of training will continue to rise.

Right now at Vivienne K Neale Digital we are on the verge of taking our very first apprentice. It is an exciting opportunity and we can’t wait to both learn and train a new digital marketing apprentice.

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