The idea of taking on an apprentice may at first seem daunting for a business owner, but there’s no need for it to be that way.
The fact is that apprenticeships are used by thousands of firms across the UK each year. They’re a fantastic way of bringing in loyal talent at a low cost, filling a skills gap in your business, and helping develop your current staff roster.
But business leaders can often be put off by not knowing a great deal about apprenticeships – or how to start one.
Here at About Apprenticeships, our team has compiled 10 apprenticeship facts and stats that SMEs should know before taking one on.
1. Apprentices go on to become valuable, long-term staff members
There’s little doubt surrounding the value apprentices add to businesses, as most turn into great long-term employees.
Data from the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) website shows 90% of apprentices stay on after completing an apprenticeship. And with their skills being tailored to the specific job role you’ve given them, it means you’re effectively training a new employee to think and act in the interests of your business from day one with no bad practice from previous roles.
2. Apprenticeships can be for a variety of skills levels, including up to Master’s degree standard
There are a large number of apprenticeship types in the UK and it’s possible to take one on at various stages of someone’s career – even up to the equivalent of Master’s degree level.
From placements for those just starting out after leaving education to upskilling existing staff, the choice on offer is vast.
In fact, according to NTG Training, 26% of apprenticeships are started at the ‘Higher’ level – showing that more and more are considering these schemes when it comes to achieving a higher education goal.
It differs nation to nation, but in England, the different levels of apprenticeship that can be started by people aged 16 or over, are:
- Intermediate (Level 2) – equivalent to GCSE
- Advanced (Level 3) – equivalent to A-level
- Higher (Levels 4,5,6 and 7) – equivalent to a foundation degree and above
- Degree (Levels 6 and 7) – equivalent to a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree
3. Apprenticeships are an ideal way of filling a skills gap
From the day an apprentice joins your business, you can tailor their placement to specific job roles, meaning they will be flexible to the needs of your organisation and any prevalent skills gaps.
This is particularly useful given the current skills shortage facing many UK industries: A recent study by About Apprenticeships, The UK Domestic Trade Skills Index, found that the industry needs to recruit at least ONE MILLION new workers to meet construction, home repairs and improvements demands as the industry grows by 4.1 per cent a year.
4. They bring new ideas and perspectives to the business
A hugely appealing aspect for employers is the refreshing perspective these new starters bring.
Inquisitive, curious, and ready to learn – apprentices provide fresh new ideas and enthusiasm, sure to make a real difference to your business, helping you progress, develop and innovate.
You’ll find that within months of starting, some apprentices will already be taking on complex projects that push their skills and ability to problem solve to the test. What’s more, apprentices often bring their own ideas and typically have access to the most up-to-date industry regulations and training materials.
A pair of fresh eyes, they can identify issues and find solutions that may have eluded even experienced members of staff. We have seen them bring in a whole host of pioneering new ideas and trends – so the whole team may end up learning something new.
5. Apprentices can be any age and have a wide range of different experiences
One of the biggest apprenticeship myths is that they are all school leavers. That is entirely untrue.
There is no upper age limit for apprentices, meaning they can be done by:
- School leavers
- Existing employees
- Those wanting a change in career
No matter their stage in life, there’s an apprenticeship that can work for them.
In fact, according to Government statistics, in 2019/20, almost half (47%) of apprenticeship starts were by people aged 25 or over.
6. Apprentices can improve a business and its products and services
Injecting some apprentice talent into your business can add a new dimension to your workforce, bringing a fresh perspective and new ideas. This in turn can help existing employees and spark an overall boost in business productivity.
The National Apprenticeship Service website states:
- 96% of employers that take on an apprentice report benefits to their business
- 72% of businesses reporting improved productivity as a result of employing an apprentice
- According to the Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, apprenticeships boost productivity to businesses by on average £214 a week.
7. Apprenticeships are available across so many industries
From advertising and youth work to environmental engineering and nuclear decommissioning to plumbing and heating engineers, the chances are your business could benefit from an apprenticeship.
According to the National Apprenticeship Service, this equates to 1,500 different job roles across over 170 industries, meaning if you’re unsure whether your business is eligible, it’s definitely worth checking.
8. They’re a great way to grow your team while keeping costs down
The Government pays the vast majority of apprenticeship training and assessment fees for apprenticeships offered by small businesses.
In fact, 98% of businesses pay a maximum of around 5% of the training costs towards an apprenticeship, with the Government covering the remaining 95%.
The other 2% of businesses pay into the apprenticeship levy – a tax on large employers used to fund essential training and development.
Find out more about the funding available for apprenticeships.
9. Apprenticeships can last for anything from 12 months to six years
Depending on the level, framework and qualification being gained by the apprentice, placements can last for anything from 12 months upwards. Part-time apprenticeships can go on for up to six years.
The length is negotiated between the apprentice and the employer, with most offering the flexibility to work around life commitments.
10. They’re a great way of making your business more diverse
Apprenticeships have been described by the Social Mobility Commission as one of the “most powerful and effective means of boosting social mobility amongst workers from less advantaged backgrounds”.
That’s because many will have taken a different route into the industry to your other staff members and will likely be from different backgrounds.
It’s not only a just cause – it’s smart business too. Research shows that 43% of businesses with more diverse workforces have higher profits – and apprenticeships are the best way of reaching that talent early.
Here’s how you get started
If you’re ready to take on an apprentice, you don’t have to do it alone.
We’ve created a shiny, new Jobs Board, an online directory of the best trade apprenticeships available right now. We know the UK construction industry needs more completed apprenticeships to fuel economic growth, and we’re here to make that goal easier to achieve – for both apprentices and employers.
Employers can advertise their roles on our Jobs Board to make it easier to find an apprenticeship.