The government is promoting apprenticeships as the ideal solution to get young people into work and to bridge skills gaps in the UK, and indeed more people than ever are embarking on apprenticeship schemes. But is an apprenticeship suitable for you, and what benefits are on offer for the businesses who take on apprentices?
Apprenticeships – the best of both worlds
An apprenticeship offers a person a route into a job and possibly a profitable and satisfying career, but it is so much more than that. Someone on this kind of programme can expect the following benefits:
- Experience of work
- A wage
- The chance to learn new job-specific skills
- The opportunity to work alongside experienced staff and make vital new contacts
In addition to all of these persuasive benefits, an apprentice also gets the chance to study towards a qualification without having to bankrupt themselves on tuition fees. Study is usually one day a week, with the rest of the week taken up with on-the-job experience.
Where could your apprenticeship take you?
Once completed, an apprenticeship is the equivalent of nationally recognised qualifications, which is important when it comes to applying for a permanent job. In England, are three levels of apprenticeship:
- Intermediate – equivalent to 5 GCSEs
- Advanced – equivalent to 2 A levels
- Higher – lead to NVQ Level 4 and above or a Foundation Degree
Being on level pegging with another candidate that has been to college or university is a great advantage when applying for jobs, but an apprentice will also have the added bonus of real, on the job experience to bring to the role. This can make apprentices stand out head and shoulders above other candidates.
What’s more, many apprenticeships lead to full-time positions within the very same business or organisation. At SOLOS Consultants, for example, we employed an apprentice called Michael, who was showing remarkable initiative and touting for work at the side of the road at just 16 years of age. A successful apprenticeship later, Michael is now a permanent member of staff.
How apprenticeships can help employers
For employers, apprenticeships should not be seen as a responsibility or a burden – they should be embraced as a business asset. For starters, your business gets the chance to train up and mould a promising young talent for his or her future place in your company. Taking this person on as an apprentice is an investment not only in the person and their career, but in the future direction of your business.
There are other financial benefits to consider, such as the grants available from the government for small to medium sized businesses (SMEs). Smaller companies often can’t afford to take apprentices on, even when these are the businesses that can most benefit from apprenticeships, but these grants (along with reimbursed training costs) can support up to 10 new apprentices.
Finally, taking on apprentices is very good for the image of your business. Helping young people to develop new skills and find their way into work is a great selling point, especially amongst your local community. If you take on apprentices, make sure you shout about it!