With the apprenticeship levy coming into force in April 2017, there’s been a lot of talk about businesses developing jobs that combine work with training. If you’ve not hired an apprentice before and are unfamiliar with the scheme, then you may be understandably hesitant. ‘What is the process?’ and ‘What benefits could apprenticeship training bring to my business?’ are just some of the questions likely to be on your mind.
To help you discover whether upskilling your existing members of staff through an apprenticeship is right for you and your business, read on as we answer these questions.
How an apprenticeship works
Apprentices essentially learn whilst on the job. In many ways, they are just like a regular employee, receiving a wage as well as standard holiday entitlement. Their practical training and job-specific skills are gained by working with your current team, and they undertake study that’s related to the apprenticeship. This must be during the working week, and many carry out their additional learning at a college or training organisation for one day per week.
Anyone who is 16 or over and isn’t in full-time education can do an apprenticeship. In their first year, regardless of their age, you must pay them at least the National Minimum Wage for apprentices (£3.70 per hour in 2018/19). After this, they are entitled to at least the minimum wage rate for their age bracket (this currently ranges from £4.20 for under 18s to £7.83 for those 25 and over). They’re not just paid for the hours worked for the company, but also the time spent undertaking the apprenticeship training.
Is it worth it?
Whether an apprenticeship will prove valuable to your business depends on its needs. What you can afford will be a key consideration. There is government funding available via the apprenticeship levy that covers training and assessment, but not wages. You may not receive enough for the cost of the apprenticeship training and assessment – this will depend on its price as well as your circumstances.
You’ll need to remember that apprentices have different requirements to standard employees. They will require time out from work for off-the-job training (this must be at least 20% of the apprenticeship), assessments and, if necessary, support with English and maths. This must all be within working hours, which could potentially interfere with your business’ work, especially if you’re an SME.
Apprenticeships versus a degree
Apprenticeships are traditionally associated with manual jobs that are typically undertaken by school leavers, such as those in the construction sector. In recent years, however, apprenticeship training has been created in a wider variety of industries, and higher levels of apprenticeships are now available too. An apprenticeship can be equal to a foundation, bachelor’s, or master’s degree, as well as a GCSE or A-level.
With the cost of university fees, many potential students are put off the idea of studying for a degree in this way. An apprenticeship equivalent to a degree offers a fantastic alternative, especially as some can also offer additional qualifications, like a diploma, which may make them more appealing to employers. You could potentially offer this to current employees who are unsure about taking on a full university degree.
Apprenticeships versus a job
A job can be the better option if there’s not much training required in the new role. Otherwise, an apprenticeship will prove very valuable, especially if you would like to develop existing staff members. They can be upskilled with an apprenticeship, which will be particularly beneficial if they are moving into a new role that requires a different set of abilities to that of their current job.
You’ll be able to capitalise on the existing employee’s experience and knowledge, whilst still receiving help with apprenticeship training funding. The fears around a new starter and their suitability to the role are eliminated, and a current employee has already proven their skills and loyalty. The time it takes to complete an apprenticeship ranges from one to five years, with the degree-equivalent levels being towards the higher end of the scale. An existing employee is much more likely to stick with the training for the entire duration, ensuring your investment comes to fruition.
The next steps towards apprenticeship training
If you decide taking on an apprentice is the right decision for your business, there is a straightforward process to follow. You should first work out your finances, and see if you can take advantage of the apprenticeship levy. If the apprentice isn’t working in England, the levy won’t apply – you can find out about apprenticeships in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales from the organisations that deal with them.
You’ll then need to choose the apprenticeship type, as well as a training provider. The Digital Apprenticeship Service has a register of approved assessment organisations, which includes Bright Direction Training. The provider you select should let you decide the training that will work best for the apprentice and your business, so you can create the change you want to see.
With Bright Direction Training, you can develop an apprenticeship that’s tailored to your company. To discover more about how we can assist with your apprenticeship training, contact us today.