With the number of apprenticeship programmes on offer and the process sometimes appearing tricky and complex, the very idea of launching apprenticeship training schemes can become daunting.
But it doesn’t need to be that way.
For more than a decade, apprenticeship numbers have risen quickly – and employers continue to take on new starters in their droves.
Previously an option reserved solely for school leavers entering vocational careers, it’s now possible to do an apprenticeship at any stage of your career – offering the opportunity of training and qualifications up to Master’s degree level.
While the overall aim of an apprenticeship is to provide opportunities and employment for young people and people who may be out of work or want to retrain, it’s important to note that they can be of huge benefit to the employer too.
For those looking to take on apprentices, or firms at an early stage of the process, here we lay out how they too can reap the rewards of this type of training.
We will also aim to clarify the responsibilities of firms running different types of apprenticeships – including on-the-job training and the input required by the provider.
Here are 8 things all employers need to know about apprenticeship training:
1. The difference between on-the-job and off-the-job training
Firstly, there is a big difference between on-the-job and off-the-job training, and both are vital parts of all apprenticeship schemes.
- The former is delivered by the employer – immersing the apprentice in the workplace environment and offering them real-life experience.
- The latter is delivered by a trainer provider – an organisation providing and overseeing the programme, also assessing the learner’s progress.
This usually comes during the apprentice’s normal hours, allowing them to focus solely on the activity itself by way of workshops, events and seminars. It’s aimed at teaching the knowledge, skills and behaviours set out in the apprenticeship standard so they can achieve occupational competence.
Remember – a minimum of 20% of the week needs to be dedicated to off-the-job training – but employers can choose to give more.
Training providers should also offer support to employers by sharing their off-the-job training outline and helping with on-the-job learning outcomes when needed.
Of course, both these types of training must work together to give apprentices what they need to complete their programme – laying the foundations for their future careers.
2. Get to grips with the skills being assessed
Next, it’s vital that employers are aware of the knowledge, skills and behaviours their apprentices are being assessed on.
As well as working with experienced staff and getting time for training or study, all apprentices in England are assessed at the end of their experience to make sure they are competent at their occupation and able to perform all aspects of the role. It’s worth noting that these will vary depending on the apprenticeship.
An end-point assessment usually includes:
- a practical assessment
- a project
- an interview and presentation
- written or multiple-choice tests
3. Choose your training provider carefully
With there being thousands of training providers across the UK, it makes sense for employers to choose one with industry-specific experience, to help ensure it’s the right fit for your apprenticeship.
Appointing an organisation with a track record of success delivering what the employer and apprentice need is vital in ensuring a successful outcome for both parties.
4. Make the learning outcomes clear
Employers should aim to formalise the learning outcomes from the on-the-job training they provide so that this can be shared with the apprentice and the training provider.
That could simply mean listing skills the person should learn or tasks they should be able to complete at certain points during the period.
5. Get them a mentor
To provide a rounded experience, ensure your apprentice benefits from mentoring. This means someone who’s not their line manager helping them learn on the job. They must be present on a day-to-day basis and an employee who understands and supports the learning and development needs.
6. Be familiar with milestones
Next, employers should familiarise themselves with key milestones in the apprenticeship so they can offer any support needed. This is to empower the apprentice to succeed and take ownership of their experience on the programme.
7. Get your organisation clued up
According to the Government’s National Apprenticeship Service, 86% of employers say apprenticeships help them develop skills relevant to their organisation – with 74% reporting that they improved the quality of their product or service.
Employers should ensure the rest of the organisation understands the importance of apprenticeships – and that staff are familiar with the concept and practicalities of on-the-job and off-the-job training.
8. Communication is key
Finally, communication – between employer, chosen training provider and the apprentice – is key. It helps smooth the entire process and flag any issues before they become real, unavoidable problems.
Recruiting an apprentice is a big step for any trades business, but one that can be rewarding for years to come.