Why businesses should hire apprentices

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This week is National Apprenticeship Week. It celebrates apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy. The overarching theme for this year is a challenge to us all to think about what we really know about apprenticeships.

It’s clear that apprenticeships are becoming increasingly widespread – our latest figures show they have increased at a record rate, with more than 850,000 people earning and learning on an apprenticeship in the 2013-14 academic year. Over 100,000 employers are offering quality apprenticeships in more than 220,000 locations.

As I found in my 2012 review, the benefits apprenticeships can bring businesses are enormous. Apprenticeships help businesses grow their own talent; they develop a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce by putting employers in the driving seat to deliver the skills that meet the needs of individuals businesses that are sector specific. The results speak for themselves – did you know, for instance, that almost every employer (96%) that takes on an apprentice reports benefits to their business? 

Apprentices improve productivity and profitability

Whether you are an SME or a global corporation, apprentices deliver solid results for employers of all sizes. Nine in ten employers report tangible commercial benefits as a result of hiring an apprentice, with employers stating that they had improved skills levels, service, morale and productivity as a direct result of taking on an apprentice. Nearly nine out ten employers (89%) report that hiring apprentices has helped their business improve the quality of their product or service. 

Hiring apprentices can also help you to diversify your workforce. The need for a degree or experience has excluded many people from their chosen career, but with apprenticeships the recruitment net has been cast wide open. By offering an apprenticeship you can enable young people to embark on a career without going to university while delivering greater diversity in your organisation. 

Employing apprentices can also help to improve your organisation’s productivity. Research by the Centre of Economic and Business Research (Cebr) found that the average apprenticeship completer is estimated to increase business productivity by £214 per week. 

Apprentices mean home-grown talent

I believe that the opportunity to grow your own talent through apprenticeships should definitely be embraced. To create a strong working culture, you need raw talent and the right people to mould into your company culture. The statistics actually show that 71% of apprentices choose to stay with the same employer, which demonstrates the kind of loyalty that home-grown talent can breed.

You could also offer a traineeship. The traineeship programme launched in 2013 to unlock the potential of young people and help them become work ready. Funded by the government, traineeships provide valuable work and interview experience via placements as part of the programme. Traineeships provide young people with work preparation training, maths and English skills needed to get an apprenticeship or other job. 

There is help available

Specialist small business support is available through the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers 16 to 24 (AGE Grant). This grant for employers is available until the end of the year and is open to any company with fewer than 50 employees, who are new to apprenticeships or haven’t enrolled a new recruit or existing employee into an apprenticeship programme in the previous 12 months. They could receive up to five grants of £1,500 to help cover the cost of taking on an apprentice. There has never been a better time to hire an apprentice. Visit the Business is Great website or call 08000 150 600 for more information on hiring an apprentice or accessing funding.


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