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Apprenticeship Programmes – Is It Worth Hiring An Apprentice For Your Business?Written on February 27, 2019 by Kirk Rice LLP

Apprenticeship Programmes – Is It Worth Hiring An Apprentice For Your Business?

Back in 2017 the apprenticeship landscape was transformed, with changes to the financial help and support available from the government. If you’re an employer with a payroll bill over £3m, it’s likely you are well aware of the Apprenticeship Levy and the impact on your business. However, apprenticeship funding operates differently for businesses with a payroll bill of less than £3m and hiring your first apprentice can seem a daunting experience.

A quick recap for small businesses

Apprenticeships combine working with studying to gain skills and knowledge in a specific job. In a nutshell, an employer pays an apprentice to work for them and train on an approved apprenticeship programme. The government funds nearly all of the training costs.

Apprentices can be new employees, or current employees who are looking to upskill. They are available to anyone aged 16 and over, up to any age. They must work towards an approved apprenticeship, spend at least 20% of their usual working hours on ‘off-the-job’ training with an approved Training Provider and the training must last at least 12 months.

Employers pay only 10% of the training costs whilst the government pays the balance of 90%.  On top of this, there is further support for employers who take on apprentices aged 16-18.

Choose the apprenticeship right for your business

All apprenticeships include elements of on and ‘off-the-job’ training leading to industry recognised standards or qualifications. Some apprenticeships also require an assessment at the end of the programme to assess the apprentice’s ability and competence to do their job.

Apprenticeships are set at different levels of difficulty from the equivalent of GCSE (level 2) right up to postgraduate level (level 7) and are available across a wide range of industry sectors. Don’t just think about Business & Administration or Construction, during my research I found apprenticeship programmes for abattoir workers – there really are apprenticeship programmes to suit any business!

The role of the Training Provider

Once you have decided on the training that is right for your business, you need to find a Training Provider. The Training Provider could be a further education college or an independent training establishment. The government pays 90% of the apprenticeship funding straight to the Training Provider.

Their job is to deliver the teaching side of the apprenticeship programme, to support the apprentice with the ‘off-the-job’ learning and knowledge elements of the programme. Crucially, they can also help you find the right apprentice and advertise the role on your behalf, taking you through the process of hiring an apprentice right from the very beginning and guiding you through the necessary paperwork.

You should choose your Training Provider carefully, there will be a number of options available to you. Ensure they offer the top qualifications in your industry and check their ofsted rating, reputation and success rate for apprentices completing the programme.

The role of the Employer

Employers are required to ensure their apprentice attends the Training Provider during paid working hours, this might be day release, or perhaps block release.

In addition to the teaching side of the apprenticeship programme, employers are required to ensure an apprentice undertakes real, productive work, learning job specific skills working alongside experienced staff. Employers must ensure they have opportunities to access, develop, practice and evidence the knowledge and skills required to meet the standard.

Apprentices are real employees with employment rights. You must pay an apprentice a salary that doesn’t go below the minimum wage and give them the same conditions as other employees – paid holiday, sick pay, benefits etc.

Grow your own talent

Hiring an apprentice is clearly a cost effective option, but that shouldn’t be your only reason. Good candidates for apprenticeships tend to be highly motivated, they want to learn new skills and have a strong desire to do well. They also tend to be loyal, so investing in their training can reap rewards in the long term. Take the apprenticeship program seriously and you can unearth some real talent, who’ll grow with your business and remain loyal in the long term.

For further guidance and information check out the Government website.

Maxine Guest, Partner, will be speaking at an apprenticeship information evening on Tuesday, 5 March at First Intuition, a Reading based accountancy Training Provider, to talk about apprenticeship opportunities in accountancy.  If you know a 16-18 year old who is considering a career in accountancy, please drop us a line and we can reserve you a place.


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If you would like to discuss this topic further, please email info@kirkrice.co.uk and we will arrange for one of our HR specialists to make contact.