Apprentices can bring a lot of measurable benefits to any company regardless of size. An eagerness to learn, and injecting youthful energy and vibrancy into a company are just a couple of benefits that the right apprentice could deliver to your business. In this article we’ll explore how your business could tap into this increasingly popular type of employee:
- Official stats show, apprentices are on the grow. According to Apprenticeships.org, the number of apprentices applying to businesses has increased by a tremendous 41% over the last year. As university education fees rise, more young people are looking for alternatives and going down the apprenticeship route is an exciting and practical way to get onto the employment ladder. There’s a really motivated and cost effective workforce for your SME to tap into here.
- At first glance, many SME’s might be frightened by the apparent cost in setting up and developing an apprenticeship program, especially in times of economic hardship. However, the UK government is trying hard to promote apprenticeships and has even offered companies a sweetener grant of upto £1,500 when they hire an apprentice aged between 16 to 24. This can really offset any startup, training and advertising costs associated with hiring an apprentice.
- Apprentices are often highly motivated young people who are eager to get a footing on the employment ladder. With youth employment in the UK a consistent problem, most young people are grateful in getting into any type of employment and the apprenticeship route has been popular. This is a great way for SME’s to help reduce youth unemployment while getting a keen worker for a reasonable outlay. When you factor in the available grants and the fact that apprentices will naturally command a lower wage than an experienced worker, this can be a good way of plumping up the bottom line.
- Address skills gaps and high staff turnover. Some industries are just prone to high turnover. Because many apprentices are younger people, they have a naturally greater appetite and thirst to learn, and so can be trained to fill a variety of skill gaps or provide cover during periods of vapid staff turnover.
There are also certain risks associated with taking on an apprentice:
- Teething problems. For a start, the apprentice you take on will be totally fresh or have a very limited experience in the workplace. There is often an adjustment period required for younger apprentices to adjust to the workplace environment, as opposed to taking on a seasoned and experienced employee who may fit in without any such teething issues.
- The bad egg. While the majority of apprentices will genuinely strive to do their best and provide value, some may just find the training too difficult or realize halfway through that they are not comfortable with the role. This can be a nuisance in having to refill apprenticeship slots.
- Training setup. It does take time and energy to set up an apprenticeship training program. Many SME’s may simply struggle to set up such a program, even with the aid of any government grants.
- Lack of experience can lead to mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes as they become more experienced. If you do take on apprentices, you should be prepared to be a little more tolerant to mistakes that may not happen when the job is awarded to a more experienced employee.