An apprenticeship is undeniably a great way for people to enter the workforce. Providing apprenticeships is a mutually beneficial process and the companies hiring them have as much to gain as the workers themselves.

For small businesses, the biggest opportunities apprenticeships offer is the chance to build a dedicated, loyal workforce.

Here are five ways that you can create future-proof apprenticeships for your business.

1. Determine how apprenticeships can address your business needs

When creating an effective, sustainable apprenticeship programme, you need to ensure that it is embedded in your workforce planning strategy and responds to real and tangible business needs. The apprenticeship should not act as a separate initiative to your workforce.

Your business will also have its own niche and particular way of doing things. Whether its unique selling point is excellent customer service or the special attention to detail in product development, that approach needs to be as important to your employees as it is to you. By taking on an apprentice at the very start of their career, you can instil in them your unique business ethos.

2. Add up the costs and identify if your business is eligible for funding

When employing apprentices there are two direct costs – their training costs and their wages. Government provides funding to cover some or all of the training costs, depending on the criteria you and your apprentices meet, but you will have to cover the wage costs yourself.

Small businesses can apply for a £1500 grant paid around 13 weeks after the apprenticeship begins. The average apprentice wage is £200 a week.

3. Address current and future skills gaps in your business

Apprentices are now required to complete an approved course of training aligned to a job role known as a “standard” under the new system in England. There is an extensive list of standards to choose from – allowing employers to bring specific skills into their business.

By recognising the skills that your business requires now and in the near future, you will be able to choose the standards that best match these needs. If an appropriate standard doesn’t match these needs, you can create your own.

 4. Locate a fitting training provider

There are a number of training providers for employers to choose from including private and apprenticeship training companies, local colleges and the National Apprenticeship Service has a handy online search tool which allows you to find a list of registered providers.

Employers can also choose to register as a training provider to carry out their own in-house programme. To design the best scheme for your business, you can mix and match the range of local and national providers you partner with.

5. Equip your apprentices with the skills they need

Provide your apprentices with the kinds of skills and experience they will need for more advanced roles to thrive in your business. These skills don’t just have to be technical ones they learn as part of their training – you should help them develop a broader skill set through leadership tasks and social action.

96% of apprentice employers say they are beneficial to their business.

Sources:

http://www.learndirect.com/business/news-events/press-releases/2013-3/march-2013/how-apprentices-benefit-your-business/

https://www.gov.uk/topic/further-education-skills/apprenticeships

http://www.learndirect.com/business/products-and-services/apprenticeships/what-are-the-benefits-of-apprenticeships-to-your-business/

http://www.apprenticeshipsnews.co.uk/benefits/for-employers/top-5-reasons-to-hire-an-apprentice

http://businessadvice.co.uk/hr/recruitment/creating-future-proof-apprenticeships-our-top-five-tips/

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