Taking on an apprentice can offer major business benefits and ultimately result in a new pool of home-grown talent for your company.
Apprenticeships are all about earning while learning - your new prodigy will work alongside you or other experienced staff members with the aim of achieving a work-based qualification at the end.
Last year in England there were 742,400 people taking part in apprenticeships, and in less than a decade over 2 million apprentices achieved accreditation at the end of their training, but why are they so popular?
In this article, we’ll take you through the benefits of taking on an apprentice and how you can hire your own.
1. You’ll be investing in the future of your business in a cost-effective way
There’s plenty of financial help on offer for businesses offering apprenticeships, and your new hire will contribute to the future talent pool of your business.
2. Nurture talent from scratch
Apprenticeships offer the opportunity to shape new entrants into the workforce to understand the ins and outs of your business, its ethos, values, and mission, as part of their day-to-day work.
3. Upskill your existing workforce
While an apprentice might not yet understand everything there is to know about business, they will come with fresh knowledge and insights on the latest developments in technology, for example, and could end up upskilling some of your longer-standing employees during the mentorship process.
4. You might learn a thing or two too
Need help tapping into the mindset of a younger audience? Apprentices may bring fresh perspectives to your business and offer more effective solutions.
5. Grow your business at a comfortable rate
Slow and steady wins the race, right? By hiring an apprentice and moulding them into your next superstar employee you’ll be futureproofing your business, improving your talent pool, and all without breaking the bank.
6. Make a difference to the next generation
By offering an apprenticeship you give the next generation of the workforce the opportunity to take their first step on the career ladder and help shape their future for years to come - pretty inspiring, right?
Sold? Now let’s look at how you go about taking on an apprentice.
First things first you need to choose an apprenticeship and there are two steps involved in this process.
Firstly, you’ll need to choose a training course - this involves working out the level you want your apprentice to be at and the skills you’ll need them to develop, for example, GCSE, A-level, degree, etc.
Next up you need to choose a training provider that can provide the aforementioned course in your location.
Good to know: You can find a list of training courses and providers on the government website where you can also filter your search by industry, level, and location.
The government offers businesses financial help when it comes to paying for apprenticeship training and the amount you could get will depend on whether you pay the apprenticeship levy or not.
You’ll pay the apprenticeship levy if you’re a business with a pay bill of £3 million or more each year.
If you don’t pay the levy, you’ll pay 5% towards the cost of assessing and training your apprentice and the government will stump up the rest (95%) up to a funding band maximum.
Every apprentice will be allocated to one of 30 different funding bands which range from £1,500 to £27,000. The upper limit of each band dictates the maximum amount the government will co-invest towards an apprenticeship. Find out more about funding bands here.
Payment for hiring an apprentice
The government will pay businesses £1,000 for hiring an apprentice who is aged 16-18 or under 25 so long as they have an education, health and care plan or has been in the care of local authorities.
You’ll be able to claim an incentive payment of up to £2,000 if you bring on an apprentice who starts working with you before January 31st, 2021. You’ll have until April 30th, 2021 to make your claim for this payment.
This payment is in addition to the £1,000 payment for hiring an apprentice (see above).
The £2,000 applies to apprentices ages 16-24, and for apprentices aged 25 and over the incentive payment drops to £1,500.
You’ll get 50% of this payment once your apprentice completes 90 days and the remaining half after 365 days - the full payment can only be received if the apprenticeship lasts at least a year.
No training costs for small businesses
If your business employs fewer than 50 employees the government will pay 100% of your training costs for apprentices aged 16-18 or those aged 19-24 so long as they have an education, health and care plan or has been in the care of local authorities.
Small businesses can still also claim the additional £1,000 payment for hiring an apprentice.
It’s time to look for the perfect candidate to become your new apprentice.
The training provider you’ve selected may do this for you via an established portal for those seeking out apprenticeships, or you can choose to list your vacancy on the government’s ‘find an apprenticeship’ service.
Don’t be afraid to be super specific in your advert, the aim of the game is to find the person who’ll be the right fit for your business and result in you getting your hands on the perks listed above. To get you started here are some ideas on what to include in your advert:
Once you’ve found and hired the perfect apprentice for you, you’ll need to get it in writing by making an apprenticeship agreement and signing it.
Within the document you’ll need to provide details of the following:
Top tip: Not sure where to start? You can download an apprenticeship agreement template here.
The commitment statement needs signing by you, your apprentice, and your training provider. It must include the following:
Top tip: You’ll find a commitment statement template here.
As rewarding as hiring and nurturing an apprentice can be, there are lots of other important things to know before getting the ball rolling, so next we’ll break down all the information you’ll need.
You must pay your apprentice the national minimum wage for apprentices if they’re aged 19 or under or aged over 19 but in the first year of their apprenticeship - as it stands this constitutes £4.15 an hour (although typically these rates are changed annually).
Off the job training
You must allow your apprentice to combine learning in the workplace with formal off-the-job training - this means training completed by the apprentice that is separate from their usual role - for example studying for a qualification. A minimum of 20% of an apprentice’s hours must be used for off-the-job training.
Your apprentice should:
Apprentices can be existing employees already working for your business.
Contract of employment
As the employer, you must sign a contract of employment with your apprentice detailing pay, working hours, and working conditions.
National insurance savings
Employers are exempt from paying employer class 1 national insurance contributions for apprentices under the age of 25 and earning less than £827 per week (or £43,000 a year).
This could save you roughly £1,500 in national insurance contributions over the course of a 12-month apprenticeship for apprentices paid the national minimum wage!
End-point assessments (EPAs)
To complete an apprenticeship your apprentice must complete an EPA to confirm they’re ‘occupationally competent’ before receiving their certificate.
EPAs are conducted by independent assessment organisations called end-point assessment organisations (EPAO) - you’ll need to choose one of these along with your training provider at the beginning of your apprenticeship - you can find a list of suitable EPAO’s here.
And that’s our whistlestop tour of apprenticeships. If you decide to go ahead, we wish you the very best of luck with your new starter!
*Info correct as of March 2021