BLOG: Why apprenticeships are so important to employers large and small

A year since its inception, most employers are now aware of the apprenticeship levy introduced by the Government in May 2017.

The apprenticeship levy only applies to large UK employers with an annual paybill worth more than £3 million.  Non-levy paying businesses will share the cost of training and assessment of their apprentices with the government; they will usually pay 10% towards the cost of apprenticeship training and the government will pay the rest (90% - although in some cases this may be 100%).

Apprenticeships across all sectors are clearly here to stay and the benefits are apparent. Apprenticeships are a cost effective way to introduce new skills and talent to your business. Apprentices must have a contract of employment and would normally be expected to work for a minimum 30 hours per week. There is a national minimum wage for apprentices (currently £3.50/hour) and then the national minimum wage applies dependant on the age of the apprentice. 

Aside from the financial aspects, apprenticeships are an effective way of recruiting staff as well as supporting the upskilling of current staff enabling them to progress to higher level positions within the company.  Whilst many larger companies are investing in their workforce and have detailed training and development plans, smaller organisations, who often don’t have the same time or resources, are now turning to apprenticeships to help them retain and develop their key staff.

Trained employees feel more valued and motivated and are happy to progress their career within their current organisation – this can significantly reduce staff turnover.  Apprenticeships can also help with succession planning, so that younger members of staff are trained to take up new opportunities when more experienced colleagues move on from the organisation or retire supporting their career aspirations.

According to www.gov.uk (key facts about apprenticeships), 87% of employers said they were satisfied with the apprenticeship programme, 76% say that productivity has improved and 75% reported that apprenticeships improved the quality of their product or service.  97% of apprentices said their ability to do the job had improved.

Sophie Hunter, Apprenticeship Lead, Countess of Chester NHS Foundation Trust explains how the Countess of Chester has been supported by Wirral Met College (WMC):  “Countess of Chester Hospital are proud to say that we have been recruiting apprentices since 2014 within the Trust, as well as making apprenticeships available for existing staff. The apprenticeship agenda has risen significantly within the Trust over the last few years, and this would not have been possible without the ongoing support of our provider WMC”.

“WMC have been outstanding. Their enthusiasm and commitment has made the launch of apprenticeships a success.”

Apprenticeships are suitable for employees of all ages, as this mother and son prove.  Lisa Rocke, who currently works as a team secretary for Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s (CWP) Eating Disorder Service, has recently signed up to gain a level 4 Apprenticeship in business and professional administration, whilst her son Sam has just started his career as an apprentice electrician with the Trust’s Estates department.

Gail Griggs, senior vocational learning officer at CWP, said: “CWP provides a variety of apprenticeships for current staff to increase skills and develop; apprenticeships are also an excellent opportunity for new staff of all ages looking to earn money, and achieve nationally recognised qualifications.”

Callum Edge, Owner of Edge & Son Butchers said: “We were finding it hard to recruit anyone with the relevant experience as our skills requirements are different to most businesses. Apprenticeships provide an organisation with the opportunity to ‘grow your own’. The apprenticeships are customised to your own specific needs and in a supported environment with the backup of a National Training Programme.”

Dylan Parry, Level 2 Retail Apprentice at Edge & Son Butchers said: “By doing the apprenticeship I have learnt about all aspects of retail and was able to gain more skills and knowledge from my work colleagues.”

A1-CBISS Limited, based in Tranmere, has a £10m turnover, employs 65 staff and supplies custom-built continuous emission monitoring systems and fixed/portable gas detection solutions to a variety of industries nationwide.  They recruited an apprentice for their finance department in August 2017 to support a fast growing team and to secure long term experienced and qualified staffing for their business.  Steve Duggan, Finance Director, explained, “The process of interviewing and recruiting potential apprentices was made very straight forward by Wirral Met College.  The candidates selected were all of a high standard and we are delighted to have secured the services of a young lady who is driven, motivated, enthusiastic and intelligent and has been a great fit with the rest of the team.  She will be a real asset for the future and I would recommend every organisation with a resource requirement to contact the college for more details, and give apprentices an opportunity to shine.”

Wirral Met College supports businesses with the recruitment of apprentices with the minimum of disruption to the employer.

If you are an employer and would like more information about taking on an apprentice, contact the Employer Services team who can support and guide you through the apprenticeship process, simply call 0151 551 7610 or email employer.services@wmc.ac.uk.

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