Don’t assume! Classic employer misconceptions about Apprenticeships…

Myths or Facts

Apprenticeships are often misunderstood by employers; in very different ways. It’s time to expose some of these misconceptions and reveal the real truth!

1) Learning a trade

Ask the average person in the street (over a certain age) to name what they think of if someone says the word ‘apprentice’ and you’ll almost certainly get very consistent answers. Plumber, joiner, electrician, builder, plasterer, car mechanic. Basically, the classic traditional manual trades! Indeed, the older understanding of the word ‘apprentice’ was essentially someone ‘learning a trade’. This is understandable when you think these were the staple Apprenticeships that much of this country’s industries were built on throughout the 20th century. But things have changed.

Today, Apprenticeships are available in many professional and skilled areas, such as Information Technology, Business Improvement Techniques, Customer Service, Catering, Hospitality, Food Manufacturing, Team Leading, Management and Retail. Many employers are surprised to learn of this and subsequently start to consider just how effective training an apprentice could be in helping their business develop!

However, it’s not as if Apprenticeships have all migrated to the more office-based roles – skilled manual trade Apprenticeships are also available including Furniture Occupations, Woodmachining, Warehousing and Logistics, Glass Occupations, Carpentry & Joinery and General Manufacturing. The point is, that from an employer’s point of view, there is now so much to choose from, whatever their industry.

2) Not getting the best

Some employers wrongly assume young people undertaking an Apprenticeship may be doing so as they achieved average (or worse) grades in school, and could not get into college or university. This is absolutely not the case. Many young people make a conscious and informed choice to join the world of work through an Apprenticeship. They are ambitious, career focused, and keen to learn and earn at the same time.  Many who were academic in school or college, decide not to apply for college or university as they’d rather spend their time learning while working and earning.

The rising costs of university education, alongside the decline in the number of available graduate positions, has also meant that many who would previously have gone down that path now look to gain an earlier foothold in their chosen industry. The chance to earn a wage at the same time as gaining crucial ‘on the job’ skills and experience looks, for many, to be the safer bet.

This means that employers making the wrong assumptions are very likely missing out on some excellent young professionals who can offer much in the way of skills and ability, not to mention good old-fashioned enthusiasm and hunger!

3) It’s only going to benefit new recruits

A major error is being made here! Apprenticeships can be used by employers to upskill their existing staff too, not just to train new recruits. This can be a huge benefit to any business, as better-trained and more skilled staff can only contribute to better business performance. If you also factor in the overall general boost in loyalty, enthusiasm and productivity that better-trained employees tend to demonstrate, then it’s hard not to see only positives.

4) Short-term solution only

Another outdated concept that some employers retain is that new apprentices are likely to be just a quick fix, a short-lived employee that won’t stick around long. Well not at all, in fact very often the total opposite is true! An apprentice that has received effective training and guidance in the skills needed for your industry, is far more likely to remain within your business long-term, than a traditional non-apprentice recruit. As an employer, you are clearly investing in training and developing their skills and future career, which is typically rewarded by loyalty from the apprentice.

Regarding eligible existing employees who undertake an Apprenticeship, statistics taken from the National Apprenticeship Service highlight the fact that staff who have received additional training are typically much less likely to leave the company. In fact, 86% of companies using Apprenticeships to help retrain staff, have seen a substantial decrease in staff turnover.

5) Training gets in the way

Some employers assume that apprentices will be constantly removed from the day-to-day business operations for course training, or must attend training off-site on a day release basis. Well, wrong on both counts!

Apprenticeship providers like NLTG, deliver training directly on employer premises at times to suit the company, ensuring as little disruption to the working day as possible.

Employers of course need to train a new apprentice in their job role and provide them with a mentor, as they would with any new staff member. 20% of an apprentice’s time in work needs to be spend in ‘off-the-job training’ however, much of this training will ‘occur naturally’ as the apprentice learns their role, shadows other members of staff and learns from their mentor. Off-the-job training also doesn’t need to be for one full day per week; it can be for a proportion of every day, one week in every five, or delivered in a block at the beginning, middle or end of the Apprenticeship.

6) It won’t end up any cheaper for the business

Some employers are simply not aware of the Government incentives available to them in terms of training apprentices. Yes, employers are responsible for paying apprentice wages, but depending on company size, Apprenticeship training may be free or be supported by an incredible Government subsidy of 90%!  Not to mention that any business employing a 16-18 year old apprentice can also receive a £1,000 incentive payment. To find out more about Apprenticeship training costs, visit NLTG’s Apprenticeship Reforms and Funding pages by clicking here.

Also, how does recruiting without the cost of advertising vacancies, or the man-hours involved in filtering through applications sound? Training providers like NLTG do all this legwork, only sending through relevant candidates to employers at zero charge.

So we have established just some of the myths that may be deterring some employers from recruiting an apprentice. Apprentices can really help to address any skills gaps within a business and are a productive and effective way to grow talent and develop a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce. Employers who have an established Apprenticeship programme also report a 76% improvement in workplace productivity.

If employers need any further convincing, it might help to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. See what some employers who have employed apprentices have to say here.

If you haven’t already, maybe now is the time to consider Apprenticeships!