Understanding Apprenticeships

The first week of this month was “National Apprentice Week” so with this in mind, and the fact that the Apprenticeship Levy is being introduced in April, we thought you may benefit from an overview on Apprenticeships as there is often confusion …

What is an Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a form of employment comprised of “on the job work” as well as “mandatory education and development”. An apprentice is an employee, and is therefore able to accrue full employee rights, but as well as being employed to complete a service they are also required to learn and complete a qualification. There are varying levels of apprenticeship qualifications, and whilst they are mostly studied by younger employees, they can be undertaken at varying stages of employment:

The purpose of an apprenticeship is to take an employee on a journey. They begin their employment as a relative novice, but after being provided with practical and theoretical learning, as well as the opportunity to put that learning into a working context, they come to the end of the apprenticeship as an expert in an occupational field. It is then common practice for the apprentice to be kept on as a fully-fledged employee, enabling their employer to benefit from the years of investment. An apprenticeship is required to last a minimum of 12 months, and can last from anywhere between 1 to 4 years. An apprentice would usually be contracted for a minimum of 30 hours a week, however this can be reduced to a statutory minimum of 16 hours per week, if the length of the apprenticeship is extended to ensure the apprenticeship is still an appropriate length.

The Benefits of Hiring an Apprentice

There are many benefits to hiring an apprentice. In a 2014 report by the CIPD, “Apprenticeships that Work: A Guide for Employers” a study showed the following positive statistics:

As well as the above, there is also the benefit of “growing your own” talent. When you hire an apprentice, it is likely that they have limited experience of the world of professional work, or the industry you work in. Due to the “on the job training” an apprenticeship provides, you are given the opportunity to develop the exact skills you want in your company. This means that hiring an apprentice is a good way to reduce skill shortages within your company, both now and in the future. An unexpected benefit is that as well as an apprenticeship being good for the apprentice, and good for the skill levels in the company, it is also good for the managers who train the apprentice. Some managers don’t get much experience of training an employee “from start to finish”, and therefore the training of an apprentice can enable your line managers to develop some valuable “people development” experience. Finally, being an employer of apprentices can also benefit your Employer Brand. Once you have hired an apprentice, you can request an Apprenticeship Employer Certificate, which can be displayed within your company and on your website. Being able to publicly demonstrate your commitment to developing necessary skills will show that you are a positive employer, helping you to attract talent in the future, retain existing talent and also increase your reputation in the local business community.

How to Recruit an Apprentice

Advertising an apprenticeship vacancy can be done in the same way as a normal vacancy would be advertised, but there are also other avenues available to you. Some employers choose to advertise in schools and colleges, as well as online etc. Some even choose to hold regular “open days” with schools and colleges that are nearby, helping them to create a relationship with young people who are still in full-time education. The intention here is that when these young people leave school and start looking for an employer, they will be naturally inclined to apply to work for an employer they already know, rather than one they don’t.

When interviewing for an apprenticeship, it is important to be aware that you are potentially hiring someone with limited professional experience. The apprenticeship is likely to be their first job, or first full-time job, and therefore a traditional competency based interview may not be appropriate. Instead, it may be better to have a less formal interview which is based upon enthusiasm, willingness to learn, the level of interest in the role, and the capacity to learn and develop. Some employers choose to conduct group assessments which involve people working together to create a project, or some choose to conduct an aptitude test. Whatever you decide it is important to remember that you are not looking for the “finished product” when you are recruiting an apprentice, you are looking for someone who has the potential to become your most desired employee.

New additional ‘HR Plus’ Services

We are pleased to confirm that we will be offering new additional hands-on and fixed-fee ‘HR Plus’ services throughout 2017; these will include outsourced support with the management of:

How We Can Help

A separate newsletter will be published next month detailing more information on the Apprenticeship Levy. In the meantime, if you have any queries relating to any of the above please don’t hesitate to contact us at hradvice@hasslefreehr.co.uk