This year, National Apprenticeship Week is taking place from 7 to 13 February. With the theme of ‘Build the Future’, it’s a great chance to recognise the hard work apprentices put in, and why hiring one can greatly improve your business.
If you’re thinking of hiring an apprentice but aren’t sure of the benefits, or simply don’t know how to go about it, here’s all the important stuff you need to know.
Why hire an apprentice?
There are many benefits to hiring an apprentice, for you and your business, and for the apprentice themself.
Benefits to your business
The advantages to your business include:
- You’re hiring a motivated individual who is keen to learn and get the job done
- You can tailor their training to suit the needs of your organisation
- If you don’t want to hire someone new, you can use an apprenticeship programme to improve the skills of existing employees who already know your business
Benefits to the apprentice
Your apprentice will benefit from:
- Learning new skills or improving their existing skills in a vocation they’re passionate about
- Gaining nationally recognised qualifications by completing their apprenticeship
- Earning at least a minimum-wage salary (though this can be lower for apprentices than for other employees)
- No associated learning costs or student debts usually found with other types of further education, such as university
- Meeting new people, working as part of a team, and making professional connections.
Finding and funding an apprentice
Hiring an apprentice is straightforward, and the government can cover some of the costs involved. The two main costs associated with employing apprentices are their wage and the cost of external training from an apprenticeship training provider.
Your business is responsible for paying for their wage; until 1 April 2022, this is a minimum of £4.30 per hour for those aged under 19 or in the first year of their apprenticeship. The minimum wage is higher for older apprentices after their first year. But, depending on which UK country you’re in, the government will contribute between 90% and 100% of their training costs. Plus, you may be able to receive extra funding for apprentices aged 16-18 or those who have been in care.
Apprenticeship schemes can be found across the UK, so it’s important to use the correct service for the country you’re in. You can hire someone new on an apprenticeship, or boost the skills of an existing employee. Course providers will deliver training externally (usually one day per week), while your business will provide ‘on the job’ experience day to day .
To get started hiring a new apprentice, visit the government site for where your business is located:
- For England, go to: apprenticeships.gov.uk/employers/hiring-an-apprentice
- For Northern Ireland, go to: nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/getting-apprentice-started
- For Scotland, go to: apprenticeships.scot/for-employers#/apprenticeoptions
For Wales, go to: businesswales.gov.wales/skillsgateway/skills-and-training-programmes/apprenticeships/employing-apprentice
These government-run platforms differ slightly, but have the same basic functions. You’ll need to choose an appropriate apprenticeship training course and search for a learning provider to run it, then you can post an ad for the opportunity at your business. Once your account is set up, you can manage and keep track of apprenticeships through the website.
How to reach the best candidates
Advertising through your government’s website is the best single way to reach potential apprentices, who can search and apply for your opening online.
But there are ways to increase advertising for your apprenticeship opportunity, as well as reaching a wider and potentially more diverse audience.
You may want to consider:
- Holding an open day
- Visiting schools and universities to endorse your apprenticeship
- Using social media to promote the role
- Participating in careers event