Quarsh Blog

Apprenticeships - shaping our future workforce or stepping into the unknown?

As an HR or Recruitment professional, the future of your staff growth and retention is one of the main areas that you develop and nurture. Our investment in people is key to creating an effective team and delivering an excellent service to our customers.

The question is how often do we favour candidate with a robust pedigree and experience over those with a raw passion and commitment to succeed? I am not suggesting we hand over our key roles to willing yet inexperienced candidates, rather consider what we as employers are willing to invest in terms of the mentoring and ongoing development in our future teams - a blended approach. Creating a culture of opportunity for not only the apprentice but also the existing, experienced workforce to develop and thrive in our organisations.

Apprenticeships have often been regarded as a route bridging the gap from full time education to employment for those students who perhaps did not excel at school. There can be no denying that in many cases, individuals who perhaps did not do as well as their peers at school excel once they step into an apprenticeship as they can then develop practical skills alongside academic qualifications. However, nowadays, an apprenticeship route is often a viable route for more academic students who have gained good results at GCSE / A’levels and perhaps prefer to step straight into the world of work.

In a previous role, I worked within education, assisting apprenticeship applicants in gaining a suitable placement. I would encourage school leavers to consider apprenticeships as an option alongside traditional paths such as university. The range of apprenticeships available is vast, with new and exciting subjects being included on a daily basis and options including creative and media, accountancy, environment, education, IT, tourism and administration. Options to study up to degree level are available, enabling employees and employers to benefit from a workforce who have both the academic qualifications and the work experience to take the steps forward required to be the next skilled generation.

So, how do we go about recruiting for an apprentice and assuming we find an individual with the potential and attitude to suit our business, how do we go about training them? Supporting their development whilst aiming to inspire them to stay with us and become valued members of staff? - I would suggest contacting the National Apprenticeship Service in the first instance. Examples of employers who have recruited apprentices have shared their experiences here.

Most of us cannot fail to have seen a recent advertising campaign extolling the virtues of pursuing an apprenticeship route. You may also be aware of the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy as of 6th April 2017; legislation which has caused confusion and concern to budget holders. The recent budget created an extra additional £500 million a year for 16 to 19 year old technical students and the introduction of maintenance loans for higher level qualifications and of course the introduction of the apprenticeship levy. Much has been written about the levy and numerous articles are available online advising on how it will affect businesses but in a nutshell;

  • The levy will not affect small to medium size businesses as if you have fewer than 50 employees and recruit a 16-18 year old apprentice, then the government will cover 100% of the training costs and you will continue to be able to contact your training provider to arrange funding your training provision.
  • If you do have a wage bill over £3 million per annum, you will pay into the Apprenticeship Levy which can be viewed as your own staff training budget.




VIDEO: Get In Go Far with an apprenticeship (courtesy of Get In Go Far)

There are some useful pointers on the FE News site if you would like to find out more regarding the levy. More thought and provision of skills and courses needs to be offered by the education sector but in order for this to happen, employers need to get behind apprenticeships and where possible and appropriate, ensure they offer a range of apprenticeships; both in what we might consider traditional apprenticeship sectors but also more innovative sectors which are up and coming in sectors businesses will need to develop for future industry.

What will happen with apprenticeships remains to be seen; the recent changes implemented in 2017 means businesses that may previously not have paid much heed to training and the provision of apprenticeships will now have their attention turned with the introduction of the levy.

With businesses reporting that apprenticeships boost productivity by an average of £214 per week and apprenticeships providing £35.1 million to the UK economy; it is time for us all to take an interest.

Will you be part of the change?

  • More information on seeking an apprenticeship can be found here 
  • The Guardian also offers another view on the options that apprenticeships provide.