Covid has caused a jobs crisis and young people have been particularly hard hit. So the Government’s promoting schemes like the Kickstart Scheme and is making renewed efforts to place more Apprentices.
If you’re an employer considering hiring an Apprentice for the first time, you’ve probably got some questions. And in this guide, we’re hoping we can answer those and have you on your way to welcoming the first Apprentice into your business in no time.
What is an Apprentice?
An apprentice is usually, but not limited to, a young adult who is either still studying or starting off in the working world. Hiring an apprentice is not only designed to help your business but also intended to help the Apprentice to gain experience and knowledge. A lot of young people who have studied or gained experience in one different field, may also decide they want to gain experience or a pursue a career in a different field and because they have not studied this type of business or do not have the required experience to enter a specific industry, they start off with an Apprenticeship.
A little extra information
With apprenticeship programs comes certification. After completing a certain time within a business or program for apprenticeships, the apprentice then receives a certification which can include:
- Functional skills equivalent to GCSE level in English, Math and IT
- National vocational Qualifications (NVQs)
- Technical certificates
- Academic qualifications.
The type of qualification depends on the specific nature of the Apprenticeship and the level.
As mentioned previously, an apprentice is generally a starter in the working world, often a new graduate or even still studying. So of course, they definitely will not want to continue being an apprentice on entry level pay for years to come.
The apprenticeships vary in length by level:
- Intermediate is usually between a year and 18 months
- Advanced can be be up to 2 years
- Higher or Degree level apprenticeships could last between 3 to 6 years.
However, you as the Employer can choose the working hours for that apprentice, whether it be a normal 9-5 day or different hours based on the needs of your business.
Apprenticeships by Numbers
Apprenticeships have been gaining ground in recent years.
They’re becoming more popular particularly amongst those in their early twenties and later (as opposed to those between the starting ages of 16-20).
- In 2018/19, there were 46% more apprentices aged 25 and over than in previous years
- A particular increase was noted amongst Apprentices in their 30s and 40s
So while funding does vary for Apprentices beyond the age of 24, it doesn’t stop adults looking to learn a new skill from retaining in this way.
These figures come from Apprenticeship Statistics by Niamh Foley PG.
The Covid Effect
The effect of Coronavirus and a sustained recommendation to work from home has impacted the number of new Apprentices over the last year as shown in Government figures below.
So, as you can see, the results for apprenticeships after the start of Covid have acquired a drop as companies are trying to concentrate more on their current employees and a lot of business have gone through their own trainings with working online/ from home. However, with the proof of the previous years it can be seen that apprenticeships are assets to companies and people who want to learn therefore, it can be predicted that apprenticeships will eventually gain higher accreditation throughout the years to come.
It is not always a good idea to be different in the growing working world, but sometimes you can find comfort in following the growing trends.
How will Employing an apprentice benefit my company?
Good news! You can receive funding from the government for your apprenticeship program. You have 2 options when it comes to receiving funding: paying the Levy or not paying the Levy.
Apprenticeship funding: Not paying the Levy
Not paying the Levy for the apprenticeship program results in paying 5% (of the upper limit funding rate for the apprenticeship position type) toward the training costs. The government will then pay 95% of the rest of the budget for your apprenticeship program. However, there is a finding band maximum which limits the amount you will receive as to not allow companies to take advantage of the government help. But under some circumstances you may be eligible for extra funding. Note that there are certain dates that apply to extra benefits.
For extra information on the amounts and circumstances you can visit the government website.
Apprenticeship Funding: Paying the Levy
The levy is charged at a 0.5% rate of your annual pay bill and each Employer will receive an annual levy allowance of £15,000. Paying the levy allows you to receive a fully funded apprenticeship program with an extra 10%. But there is no point in paying the Levy if you do not use the funds because within the next 24 months you will lose the amount paid if not used. Again for more information on the amounts you can take a look at the government website.
How to hire an apprentice
So, you’ve decided Employing an apprentice could be a great move. So how do you go about it.
Choose an apprenticeship program
Choosing a program that best suits your business is quite easy. You have to choose the level of apprenticeship program that you can provide (the certifications mentioned above) and also consider how long you want to keep the program open for (the longer the program the better the certification for the apprentice). Then it’s all about finding an apprenticeship training provider.
You, as a business, may have to go through some training to be able to provide the correct apprenticeship training and certification. Help tools can be found on the UK government website.
Check available funding
We’ve mentioned the two types of funding above. But a good training provider will also be able to help clarify funding available to you.
Advertise your apprenticeship
You can advertise your apprentice opening on standard jobs listing websites, but equally you may find your training provider handles elements of that for you or already has a pool of applicants they’re able to put forward based on skills.
Make the hire
To hire an apprentice you go through the normal HR process that you normally would do when you hire a new employee.
You can review CVs, ask applicants to complete an assessment and interview candidates in much the same way you would with any employee.
The only difference would be the contract of employment. This would be replaced with an apprenticeship agreement and commitment statement. These documents include the skill or occupation you will be training the apprentice, the name of the apprenticeship program, start and end dates, and the amount of training that will be provided (e.g 2 years 30 hours a week). The commitment statement is a description of the planned content, schedule and material for training and problem solving steps. You can also add your normal employee handbook and or regular business policies that apply to all employees too.
You’re good to go! Make sure that you hire an apprentice who seems willing and able to learn, someone who is flexible and someone who seems to have the same work ethic and values that you want in your business.