With unemployment low, resourcing is a challenge for many of our clients, who have found it difficult to attract good quality people in Oxfordshire and the surrounding area. An excellent solution is to grow your own talent, through intern programmes or apprenticeships.

Are you aware of recent changes to funding apprenticeships? If you are own a small business, you could benefit!

Changes for 2017

Since April 2017, large businesses with a salary bill of over £3 million must contribute funding towards the costs of UK apprentices via the apprenticeship levy.  In return, there is greater funding available for apprentice training for smaller employers. Businesses not contributing to the levy will contribute 10% to the cost of the training and the government will pay the remaining 90% up to the maximum amount.

The government also supports organisations with fewer than 50 employees by paying 100% of training and assessment costs for apprentices aged 16 to 18.

How apprenticeships work

Apprentices have the same employment rights as your other employees, including the right to be paid at least minimum wage. In addition, to recruit an apprentice:

  • Choose an apprenticeship framework in your industry and a suitable training organisation. They can then advertise your apprenticeship for you.
  • Once you have selected your apprentice, you should give them a Contract of Employment, as well as an apprenticeship agreement
  • Apprentices must work towards an approved apprenticeship standard or framework.
  • Training must last at least 12 months and may last up to 5 years depending on which qualification they are studying.
  • Apprentices must work with experienced staff, learn job-specific skills and study during their working week

How to make the most of an apprentice

If you want to take on and keep a motivated and productive apprentice, ensure you have time to train and look after them. Your apprentice should be with you for a while, so as with any recruitment, identify someone with potential and the right values for your business.

Introduce your new apprentice to more straightforward tasks initially, growing the scope of their role with time as they develop confidence in their role. Getting the balance right is key, so that the apprentice does not feeling belittled just making the tea or filing all day long, nor overly pressurised by too much responsibility.

Allowance will need to be made for time-off for training courses, and for the time required for existing employees to train up the apprentice.

Your apprentice should be studying a course that is relevant to your business or their role within it. Specialist ‘T-level qualifications’ (technical pathways which are currently planned in 15 sectors) have now been postponed with teaching due to commence in 2020.

The benefits to your business

One obvious advantage is heavily discounted training: you can train up staff to be qualified for minimal cost. However, apprentices have also proven useful in plugging skills gaps, most noticeably in digital marketing and social media with which Gen Z and Millenials are already very confident.

Apprenticeships are not just for school-leavers: the latest report from the Office for National Statistics shows an even split of ages: 56% of all apprentices during 2015-16 were aged between 16 and 24 with 44% over the age of 25. Older workers can achieve new qualifications and up-skill while continuing to earn – a great opportunity for engaging and retaining staff.

Business Garage can assist you with HR Strategy and hiring advice, so call us today on 01235 433099.