Thinking about recruiting an apprentice into your business? Or are you a long-serving provider of apprenticeships looking to up your game?
First of all, well done YOU for joining other savvy business owners who hold apprenticeships in high regard. It seems you’re something of a unique bunch at the minute, with the number of apprenticeships across the UK declining in recent years - something many businesses and City of York Council are keen to see reverse. Asides to giving someone with minimal skills access to a career path – often, helping to prevent a resident from leaving the area in search of employment elsewhere – an apprenticeship is a fantastic boost for the local economy and your year-end balance sheet; and, six months into the current pandemic, we’re guessing any ways to reduce expenditure have moved top of your agenda.
So, if you’re brand new to apprenticeships, how do you get started? And how, if at all, does recruiting an apprentice differ from your typical hiring process?
All the Apprenticeship Basics In short, the National Apprenticeship Service is a Government-based scheme which helps businesses place people with little to no skills or experience into a role where they can ‘earn as they learn’. It comes with recruitment grant incentives for the employer, and then the apprentice is paid a salary by the business – which means that both sides win. Apprenticeships can also be used as training for existing staff for upskilling or re-skilling – but more of that later.
There are hundreds of roles available under the scheme with employer defined Apprenticeship Standards, in; accountancy, business admin, construction, hospitality, IT and many more. Every job type has a level and is banded for funding, so you can see clearly from the outset what amount of training provision funding is available to your organisation based on the role you are looking to fill.
If your annual payroll is over £3M, as well as the savings gained from the Government’s top-up, by entering the apprenticeship scheme your business can offset, or totally utilise the apprenticeship levy introduced in 2017 to fund training provision. Smaller businesses generally only have to contribute 5% of the training costs, but for some it is 0%. So, from a cost perspective, it’s a no brainer.
More Hires = More Monies! Now, those of you already providing apprenticeships will already appreciate the benefits they deliver. And while you may find the training provision funding alone a good enough incentive, the Government is currently offering additional incentive grants to businesses taking on more new recruit apprentices. Between August 2020 and January next year, you can claim grants of £3000 for any apprentices aged 16 to 18 years, £2000 for those aged 19 to 24 years, and £1500 for any aged 25 years and above, which is a specific incentive to enable those over 25 to transfer across sectors, and receive support for the career change training. So, if apprenticeships are not on your ‘to action’ list, make sure they are - and quick-smart!
Seeking out your Candidates For the vast majority of employers, you need to select and partner with a Training Provider for the apprenticeship role. You can research the Apprenticeship Standards for roles on the site https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/apprenticeship-standards/ , then search and then connect with Training Providers. You can then jointly advertise the role, shortlist, interview and select. The Training Provider will guide you through this recruitment process, as it is to their benefit that there is a successful outcome. As a very large employer it is possible to become registered to take direct control of a funding contract. Guidance for this can be found here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/becoming-an-apprenticeship-training-provider.
Once you have recruited your new apprentice you then partner with the Training Provider to provide your apprentice with training and assessment support specific to that role. This can be delivered in a variety of flexible arrangements with the Training Provider, depending on the apprenticeship and their preferred delivery methods to a total of 20% of their paid standard working hours a week. Apprentices must be employed for paid work for at least an average of 30 hours a week. The training and assessment support can be either one day a week, half days, a week a month or in any form of flexible hours, by selecting whichever format that works best for that role, the business needs and the apprentice.
Retaining Talent It’s fair to say, recruiting an employee as an apprentice can help to bring new energetic talent into your organisation. But what about the talent that’s already there, right under your nose? Apprenticeship programmes can be for someone already working within your organisation – perhaps someone who is looking to re-skill and move into a different role, advance their technical leadership or management career, or pick up new skills. Safe to say these candidates should not be overlooked and retaining a team member with whom you have already built a relationship and invested time can prove to be great recruitment or training cost-saving exercises for your business.
Setting the Scene As is the case with your regular recruiting process, you want your new hire to be a success. That means providing candidates with clarity every step of the way, whether they’re being sourced through internal recruitment or via the open market, make it clear what the hiring process involves – the number of interviews, how each one will be conducted, and the types of questions you’ll ask – all of which helps to prepare your new hire in full. Remember, some applicants may have zero experience in applying for roles, in which case they might need more hand-holding than those already in the workplace.
On-site or Off-site Working? More than ever, in the current climate, you need to make it clear to your apprentice from whereabouts you expect them to perform their role. For example, you may be recruiting for a role that will eventually become a predominantly ‘work from home’ position, which won’t suit all new apprentices – particularly for those not yet familiar with working full stop, from any location! You’ll also need to be clear on where their training provider resides, and how often your apprentice might have to visit their facilities for training. Providing transparency will help your potential recruit to decide whether or not this type of working situation is right for them.
Still have questions on making apprenticeships work well for your business? Connect with our friends at City of York Council on https://www.york.gov.uk/YorkApprenticeships or email firstname.lastname@example.org
We wish you the very best of luck in your search for an apprentice.