Today kicks off National Apprenticeship Week and the Government is encouraging more businesses, including small firms, to consider taking on an apprentice.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has published a useful new guide – Apprenticeships That Work: A guide for employers – covering everything that employers will need to know.
The guide includes guidance on workforce planning, choosing a training provider, recruiting and getting buy-in from all staff, as well as lots of other information – it’s well worth downloading.
We’ve pulled out some FAQs to answer some of employers’ most common questions. The following questions have been answered by the CIPD.
What is an apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship is a combination of employment and training (the apprentice obtains a nationally recognised qualification upon completion) for anyone above the age of 16. Employers train individuals within the context of their organisation, so apprentices contribute to the organisation’s productivity while developing their own skills.
There are more than 240 apprenticeship frameworks across the UK, covering most occupations and sectors.
Who can be an apprentice?
Apprenticeships are available to anyone over 16 years of age who is not in full-time education and who has obtained an employment contract with you. The individual can be a new or existing employee.
Who delivers the training and who pays for it?
Some larger employers use their own training staff to deliver the off-the-job training but most use a recognised training provider. Funding for apprenticeship training provided off the job varies across the UK as England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are in charge of their own training budgets, but in most nations training for young people is at least partly, if not fully, funded.
If you are using a training provider, the funding for the training will usually go directly to the provider. If you are running your own apprenticeship training, you can apply for direct funding (providing your training will be accredited) via the relevant body in your nation.
Funding varies, and there are often different grants and incentives available, so it’s a good idea to regularly check the website of your relevant government body (for example the National Apprenticeship Service in England).
What is the cost of an apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships are generally the most cost-efficient way to deliver workforce training because most employers will reclaim what they’ve spent fairly rapidly as the productivity of the apprentice increases. A recent study by the University of Warwick Institute of Employment Research found that the costs of apprenticeship training are recouped relatively quickly and that, where investment is nurtured, the returns are significant (Hasluck et al. 2008).
Having said this, before you develop your apprenticeship offer you need to be clear about the direct and indirect investments you need to make. These include the direct cost, which is the wage paid to the apprentice, and the indirect cost of managing an apprenticeship and supporting the apprentices. In some special cases you may also need to contribute to the training costs, depending on the age of your apprentices and where in the UK you are based.
How do I convince line managers to take on young people?
For most organisations the most difficult thing in setting up and recruiting apprentices is to convince their potential line managers of the benefits: they are often reluctant to take on a young person, especially in the 16–18 age group. They may require additional support or training to be able to give the apprentice the pastoral care they need.
In order to address some of the negative perceptions they may have, it is crucial to involve them as early as you can in the recruitment stage.
Where can I find out more?
- Download the CIPD’s Apprenticeships That Work guide
- The National Apprenticeships Service in England
- Apprenticeships in Wales
- Apprenticeships in Scotland
- Apprenticeships in Northern Ireland
- Find out more about the apprenticeships frameworks in your sector
- Find out what support is available for SMEs
- Read more employer case studies
With the permission of the publisher, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, London.
Have you taken on an apprentice or are you thinking about it? We’d love to hear your thoughts.