Latest from HRi

8 February 2021

HRi Blog – Why Apprenticeships are a win win for all

  • HRi blog
  • , HRi highlights
  • , Latest news

Posted by: Katy Mcminn

Why apprenticeships are a win win for all

What better time to reflect on the benefits of Apprenticeships for both individuals and businesses than during Apprenticeship week from 8th-14th February 2021

Apprenticeship Week celebrates apprenticeships and highlights some of the great work being carried out both by businesses and individuals in the UK. It’s an opportunity to encourage more businesses to consider employing apprentices, and to highlight the opportunities available to individuals. This year it is also a time to reflect on the impact the pandemic has had and consider what can be done to ensure these valuable opportunities are still utilised.

What are apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships combine study and on the job training. Apprentices are employees of a business, working as part of the team, gaining specific skills related to the job, whilst having at least 20% of their time focused on training and study related to the role. There are a range of apprenticeships levels starting at Level 2 aimed at school leavers, up to level 6/7 aimed at those with a bachelor/master’s degrees. Apprenticeships can be offered to new or existing employees. It may be the first step in someone’s career or a key step for someone wanting to develop their careers further or move in a different direction. 

Funding is usually available to support employers, so it’s a win win for all parties.

Business benefits

Apprenticeships offer huge benefits to businesses:

  • They help attract new talent into businesses, bringing fresh ideas and perspectives, with Channel 4 reporting “Apprentices have had an amazing impact across our business and bring a fresh perspective to everything we do here at Channel 4” (Laura Boswell, Industry Talent Specialist, Channel 4)
  • They offer a cost-effective way to develop specific skills and provide training relevant to business needs, rather than having to hire at a more senior level to get that expertise. 
  • 86% of employers using apprentices stating it had helped them develop skills relevant to their business 
  • Employers can ensure the training they receive is tailored to how things work in their business, to ensure the formal study and training they are receiving is being put to practical use, benefitting your specific business. 
  • They provide fantastic development opportunities for existing employees, providing you with a valuable retention tool, with 90% of apprentices staying with their employer once they completed their apprenticeship 
  • Having apprentices embeds a culture of learning in each business, where everyone can see that development is available and everyone can plan to build a long-term career

Individual benefits

Apprenticeships are really beneficial to individuals with some key benefits being:

  • Providing an alternative route to the traditional university route, with apprenticeship levels starting at school leaver stage, so young people can begin earning money from day 1
  • Individuals gain a qualification whilst also developing on the job skills, valued by all employers
  • Gaining qualifications create an  opportunity for individuals to develop their career further, or even change in direction in a structured way
  • Individuals bring their new skills and expertise into every business, with personal contributions being recognised and boosting confidence and engagement

Impact of the Pandemic

The impact of the pandemic on apprenticeships can’t be ignored, with a drop in the number of apprenticeships offered over the last 12 months. This isn’t surprising considering a large number of apprenticeships are in industries most severely hit by the crisis, such as hospitality, health and beauty, and child development. 

The pandemic has led to apprentices being furloughed or made redundant, as businesses struggle to survive in this difficult climate. The Sutton Trust COVID 19 research reported 39% of employers saying only 39% of apprenticeships were continuing as normal, with 36% having been furloughed and 8% made redundant.

Going forwards, it is likely many employers may feel they are not going to be in a position to recruit apprentices at the levels we have been seeing, resulting in much higher competition for those apprenticeships on offer, with around a third of employers responding to the Sutton research reporting they were likely to hire fewer apprentices over the coming year, or none at all.

It’s crucial to recognise that for businesses to recover and grow in the future, they still need to focus on upskilling and developing existing talent, as well as bringing new talent in to develop and nurture. A great example is from Amazon who have this month announced they are recruiting more than 1000 apprentices across the UK ranging from robotics to creative digital design, with half of these being offered internally.

It’s not just big businesses that should be thinking of apprenticeships however. The government has a plan to kickstart the economic recovery and employers are being given the extra incentives if hiring apprentices before 31st March 2021. Most training costs are either partially or fully funded by the government, dependent on certain eligibility criteria.

Things to address as a business

  • Know what your current and future skills gaps are
  • Develop a strategic workforce plan
  • Consider funding opportunities including the kickstart scheme
  • Research learning providers
  • Make sure you have strong processes in place to support your apprentices

Seek support and advice from a qualified and experienced HR Consultant if you need guidance and support.

And finally…

As we look towards the future beyond COVID, apprenticeships allow your business to develop and grow the skills specific to the needs of your customer in a cost-effective way. They provide the opportunity to introduce new ideas and perspectives to your organisation, as well as nurturing and developing your own people, which will create a loyal and engaged workforce for the future.

To find out more about how apprenticeships can work for your business, talk to one of HRi’s accredited HR and People Consultants.

Author: Katy McMinn, co-founder and director, HRi