We’re in the middle of the 11th National Apprenticeship Week, which celebrates the contribution made by apprentices to the economy. According to research released by the Association of Accounting Technicians, 97% of small companies said taking on apprentices had been good value for money. Apprentices helped boost productivity at 90% of the firms questioned, and more than half said they preferred to recruit apprentices rather than university graduates.
In fact, a well designed and supported apprenticeship programme is a clear and effective way to introduce and develop new talent into any business. Apprenticeships can put the employer in the driving seat when it comes to the quality and diversity of training that staff receive, resulting in qualifications that are genuinely as valuable to the employer as they are to the employee.
What’s more, companies should remember that apprenticeships aren’t just for new staff – they can be a fantastic means for enhancing the skills of the existing team.
If that isn’t enough to convince you, here are our top five reasons why apprentices are good for business:
- A tailored approach
As apprentices are given the chance to become fully immersed in a business, they will naturally become attuned to their company’s way of working and thinking from the outset. As the employer is responsible for the training delivery, they have the opportunity to ensure the apprentice is trained in the specific skills required by the employer.
- Stand out from the crowd
Today’s consumers want to buy from and work with companies that are doing their bit to support society as a whole, and that includes giving opportunities to young people. And it doesn’t have to stop with an apprenticeship scheme! Apprentices bring new ideas, enthusiasm and energy into your business, and for the people you recruit it’s a tremendous opportunity for them to earn while they learn. Apprenticeships have been proven to create loyal and committed staff, increase productivity, and boost the morale of existing employees who feel the skills they can share are valued and essential. Apprenticeships have also been proven to increase client loyalty as clients will see your commitment to creating a skilled workforce and providing opportunities to young people: stand out from the crowd and give them your best!
- Motivate your team
Your small business will have its own niche and particular way of doing things. Whether its unique selling point is excellent customer service or the special attention to detail in product development, that approach needs to be as important to your employees as it is to you. Taking on an employee at the very start of their career lets you instil in them your unique business ethos.
- Cost effective training
Depending on eligibility, the Government can potentially cover the entire cost of training for an apprentice. This is an opportunity to develop the skills and talent of an individual who has the potential to become an important part of your team in a cost effective way! In essence, Apprenticeships are an affordable option for small businesses that may not have the budget or time to go it alone.
- Investing in the future workforce
Last, but by no means least, committing to supporting young apprentices is an important part of strengthening the labour market as a whole. In fact, apprenticeships are expected to contribute a staggering £3.4 billion to the UK economy by 2022.
As a final note, remember that completing an apprenticeship shouldn’t be the end of the journey and opportunities to learn further should be embedded in company culture. After all, encouraging staff in their work, personal development and progression supports the individual as much as the business.
In general, people who feel supported, empowered and proud to work for you are more likely to do their best, in turn providing the best service for customers. Have a clear plan for how apprenticeships support your overall talent strategy, and secure buy-in from all relevant stakeholders!