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Seven reasons why you should consider taking on an apprentice

National Apprenticeship Week takes place for a week early February each year, and is a timely reminder that taking on an apprentice can be really beneficial for your small business.

Here’s how:

1. Apprentices can bring new ideas into your business

Apprentices spend part of their week studying for a work-based qualification at a college or training facility, in addition to working at least 30 hours in your business. This means they are continually bringing new ideas into your business that can be directly put into practise in the workplace. According to government statistics, 86% of employers say apprenticeships help them develop skills relevant to their organisation, while 78% of employers say apprenticeships helped them improve productivity.

2. They can fill the skills gaps in your workforce

Hiring an apprentice gives you a great opportunity to fill any immediate or impending skills gaps your company might be facing. Apprentices can do all kinds of different roles, including design, engineering, sales, logistics, construction and accounting, and their apprenticeship is tailored to the specific role they are undertaking, so you can be confident they are receiving the right training. You can employ apprentices at different levels, from school leavers to university graduates, to people who want to further their careers or change career direction.

3. Apprenticeships are a great way of finding good long-term employees

Apprenticeships provide the perfect opportunity to watch someone in action in the workplace and see how well they fit into a team. If they meet the criteria you are looking for, then once their apprenticeship is over you can offer them a permanent job with your firm. That will give you a qualified worker who already holds the skills and qualities your business requires, and who already has a strong sense of loyalty to you. Many businesses have already discovered that great apprentices make great permanent employees – indeed two out of every three apprentices are hired permanently after their apprenticeships are finished.

4. Apprenticeships can be used to upskill and retrain your existing employees

It is not widely known that you don’t have to bring someone new into your business as an apprentice; you can also use the apprenticeship scheme to retrain your existing workforce. You can use it to train an employee in the skills needed to progress into a new role, for example, or to enable an experienced employee to get formal qualifications in a specialist area. Creating apprenticeships to upskill your existing workforce can deliver other advantages too – it will motivate your team to learn and implement new skills, it will boost performance, and it will boost the morale and loyalty of your team by showing them you care about their career aspirations and are prepared to invest in their development.

5. There is a ready-made structure to follow

If you decide to hire an apprentice you don’t have to make it up as you go along – there is an established process to follow to make it happen. You can start by registering your interest with the National Apprenticeship Service at, which will help you find a training organisation that offers a relevant course to suit your industry. This organisation will advertise your vacancy, from where you can select your apprentice. Apprenticeships last from 1 to 5 years depending on the role and industry.

6. There are financial incentives to hiring an apprentice

The government offers several financial incentives to businesses that provide apprenticeships. If your annual wages bill is less than £3 million you will not have to pay the Apprenticeship Levy and will pay just 5% of the cost of training and assessing an apprentice. And if you employ fewer than 50 employees, the government will pay 100% of the apprenticeship training costs for apprentices aged 16-18, and for those aged 19-24 who are under the care of their local authority.

The government will also pay an incentive fee for firms that take on apprentices aged 16-18, and for those aged 19-24 in local authority care.

In terms of salary costs, employers pay an apprentice the Apprentice Rate – currently £4.30 an hour – in their first year, and the relevant National Minimum Wage for their age thereafter.

7. Apprenticeships are a great way to boost your firm’s reputation within your local community

Offering apprenticeships is a sign that your business cares about the local community and is prepared to offer practical help in providing employment and skills training opportunities. That will help boost your reputation and credibility in your local community.

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