The power tool specialist Starrett has been visiting colleges and apprenticeship training centres over the past few years, in order to demonstrate its range of hand tools. Now, Laura Neish, the HR manager, wants to take the time and explain how businesses in the building, construction, electrical, and plumbing industries can make the most out of the process of hiring apprentices.
The Financial Times reported in October 2017 that the number of people starting an apprenticeship in the UK had dropped by 61% year on year since the introduction of the Government’s apprenticeship levy. The levy has been set at 0.5% of a company’s pay bill for all employers with a wage bill higher than £3 million per year. This introduction has also caused problems for smaller companies and has called for more financial support for employers creating roles for apprentices.
“Small businesses have a key role in providing apprenticeships across the whole of England and particularly for younger workers, with 70% of those firms that have an apprentice taking on 16 to 19-year-olds,” said Mike Cherry, national chairman of the FSB, speaking to The Financial Times. “Government should reconsider the current funding arrangements and incentives for taking on younger apprentices, recognising that this group needs more support as they move into the workplace for the first time.”
Laura urges businesses to look into these three things and decide whether or not they can support an apprentice.
1. Long-term investment
Taking an apprentice on board is a long-term investment, meaning that your business needs to make sure that it can provide the right resources to support, train, and offer them a role by the time they have finished. Make sure you have enough work to give to the apprentice, you have a suitable mentor to guide the trainee, and most importantly, your apprentice fits into your company’s growth strategy.
2. Do the research
Once you’ve completed the first task, find the best training providers. The best bet is usually the industry specific providers, as they will have a selection of candidates from which you can choose. The schemes on offer are also different; some may be more vocational, some may put more emphasis on classroom learning; some may last 12 months, some may last four years. Lastly, don’t forget to ask about the kind of training offered by the provider.
3. Choose your apprentice
The way you want to advertise your apprenticeship is strictly up to you. It can be directly through training providers, on standard job sites, or on The National Apprenticeship Portal. Once you have your candidates, organise assessment days that allow you to see their competency, personality, and learning agility. Other members of your staff could also help you with some feedback on your applicants.
Apprenticeships are important for the nation’s trade industry and small business can benefit from the energy and drive of a new employee, while contributing to the continuation of skilled work. However, make sure you do your research before offering an apprenticeship to avoid a negative reputation.