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Did you know that 100 years ago, the most popular trade was dressmaking? Back then apprentices were legally required to work for an employer for a number of years, had to pay for their own training and had to buy tools out of their salaries.
Today, Apprenticeships couldn’t be more different. In a climate where youth unemployment is high, and where the UK lags behind internationally in the provision of vocational skills, they are more relevant than ever before. In April this year, the Government set out a new policy that commits to creating 3 million Apprenticeship starts by 2020. So, a great deal has changed in a century, but some of the old ideas remain.
Here we dispel some of the myths to show you how vital Apprenticeships are in business today.
Myth #1: It’s old fashioned
Not at all! Hiring an apprentice is one way to look forward and future proof your business; building your talent pipelines for the years ahead. Apprenticeships can also be used to improve social mobility and diversity. 100 years ago, women made up 22% of Apprenticeships. Nowadays it’s more like 55%. So if you are looking to fill a particular role and boost an underrepresented demographic in your business, look to Apprenticeships.
The recent reforms in the Apprenticeship system means employers are having a lot more say about how Apprenticeships are designed. Employers also have more control over funding, so they can choose the training to suits their skills needs.
Myth #2: It’s expensive
You’ll need to pay your apprentice’s wages, but various funding options are available to support Apprenticeship training. Depending on the size of your company and age of your apprentice, Apprenticeship training may be free. Once an apprentice has completed their programme, figures suggest that on average, apprentices result in productivity gains of around £214 per week, due to increased profits and lower staff turnover. Government statistics show that nearly 90% of Apprenticeship employers say that Apprenticeships deliver, and 89% report the scheme has resulted in their business improving the quality of their product or service.
Myth #3: Apprenticeships are for people who don’t get into University
Many students who were academic in school or college are motivated, career focused and keen to spend their time learning, while working and earning. As graduates are leaving university with an average debt of £50,000, Apprenticeships are becoming increasingly appealing to many school and college leavers, giving them valuable experience without the financial burden. Apprenticeships are seen as a reliable, secure way for people to future-proof their working lives, attracting those who are ambitious and keen to join the world of work.
Myth #4: Apprenticeships aren’t relevant to us
Apprenticeships are now available in over 1,500 job roles, ranging from telecoms to fashion, defence to banking, law to PR. As an example, 143,000 people were in business, law and administration Apprenticeships in 2015/16, compared with around 77,000 in 2009/10.
Whatever the nature of your business, there will be an Apprenticeship to suit, and what’s more, you’ll be able to shape the nature of the role to fit your requirements, tailoring the perfect solution for your business needs.
Myth #5: Apprenticeships have rigid structures that won’t suit us
Apprenticeships are a flexible way to train your staff to your particular needs. So if you have a specific gap in skills that needs filling, an apprentice could be a good way to fill that gap. Apprenticeships provide highly creative solutions that in essence act like greenhouses; an ideal way for growing your own talented pool of staff.
Moulding apprentices in the way of your business from the ground up, gives them a deeper understanding, and with opportunities for apprentices to rise to graduate level, there is no barrier to success. At the same time, you as the employer have someone who comes with fresh eyes, gets to really know your business and brings a willingness to learn. Apprentices learn theory alongside practicality; and pick up industry-specific skills as well as transferable ones.
Myth #6: Existing staff members do not see the value of Apprenticeships
Apprenticeships are an investment in the future of your business, leading to increased morale all round. Hiring an apprentice also demonstrates your business values: that you care, not only about investing in the next generation, but about training people properly. Longer-serving staff often appreciate the new energy apprentices bring: with their enthusiasm and passion for their work, they quickly give back to the team with their own ideas. What’s more, Apprenticeships are available to existing members of your team and age is no barrier.
Myth #7: It’s a short-term strategy
Far from it. Investing in apprentices is a way to provide career progression and succession management. Having people with you at the start of their career, learning on the job from experienced staff members, and supporting all of that with a training programme, means your apprentice is a well-rounded individual. It’s also well reported that apprentices have great loyalty for their employer, which leads to staff retention and fewer long-term recruitment costs. Many senior business leaders start off as apprentices. For you as an employer, they provide an invaluable opportunity to develop the expertise you need, not only now, but for the future too.
Myth #8: It’s good for us, but there’s no knock-on effect
Actually, not only are you shaping the future growth of your business, you are also contributing to the British economy. One important challenge for the UK economy is its stagnant productivity and growth. In turn, this keeps down wages and living standards. Apprenticeships can help on that front too. According to research by the Centre for Economics and Business research it’s estimated that each Apprenticeship created is worth an estimated £38,000 to the economy over the long term.
What’s stopping you?!
If all that hasn’t convinced you, give us a call! We know that there are currently more apprentices than there are roles, so we’re passionate about helping employers make more opportunities available.
If you’ve a skills shortage that is getting in the way of your ability to grow or be more productive, an Apprenticeship could be an ideal way to match your needs with a willing, enthusiastic apprentice.
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