Written by: Shani Fowler
Think apprentice; do you see the stern faced Alan Sugar, sitting at a desk, lecturing the fame hungry contestants before he tells them “you’re fired!”? Hmmm me too, but we have begun to hear a lot more about apprenticeships lately, it’s become a bit of a buzz word. Apprenticeships aren’t a new concept though, many years ago lots of school leavers took up an apprenticeship to learn a trade. Many stayed in their chosen trade all their lives, and many became a master of their trade and it suited them well. It seems this has come back into fashion.
What is an apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship is a nationally recognised programme with a combination of learning and training both off and on the job. Apprenticeships are available for young people and adults, giving opportunities to learn a job or a trade whilst earning money at the same time, enabling them to gain experience and an actual qualification. The key is to give quality training to the apprentice which can hopefully give them a future in their chosen field of work. This method of training also benefits businesses which can invest time in an apprentice and lead to a motivated and skilled workforce.
It’s an A-Z of opportunities!
Apprenticeships can be undertaken in most areas of work from accountancy through to zoo keeping! So if there is something that really appeals to you seeking out an apprenticeship can be an excellent way to get on the ladder, learn the trade well and gain a relevant qualification.
What are the benefits of an apprenticeship for the business?
96% of businesses that took on an apprentice reported that it benefited their business, and 72% of those businesses reported improved productivity in their business. Apprenticeships have been able to allow businesses to improve productivity by reducing their costs. Other reported improvements include the introduction of new ideas to organisations, lower staff turnover and higher staff morale. Businesses that employ over 1000 employees may qualify for a grant for £1500.00 to assist in covering the costs of starting a new apprentice (aged between 16-24). Almost 19000 people have been able to start an apprenticeship under the benefits of this grant. Over 150,000 employees are offering apprenticeships.
What are the benefits for the apprentice?
Not everyone wants to or can afford go to University. Not everyone is academically blessed but many are good in other areas where apprenticeships can help lead to a stable job with job satisfaction. With an apprenticeship, you can choose an industry to train in rather than take a job that is just available but does not really hold your interest. Apprentices are earning whilst they are learning. They should be paid at the least the relevant minimum wage and training costs are usually covered by most companies.
Unless there are exceptional circumstances an apprentice should work a minimum of 30 hours per week. Apprenticeships are creating opportunities for people, reintroducing high quality training standards. They can present opportunities in geographical areas where they were virtually non-existent. Renewing interest in areas can have a knock-on effect and positive impact on other businesses, providing better job opportunities.
After training is completed
Doing a job well involves investment of time and training. Once training is complete, a savvy employer should recognise your worth and want to keep you. If not there is likely to be someone out there who could use your highly polished skills. On completion of an apprenticeship 85% of apprentices remain in employment with just over two thirds of them remaining with the same employer.
Are there disadvantages to the apprentice?
As with anything, there are always pros and cons. The starting pay would be much lower than that of a graduate. Certain careers are not accessible though apprenticeships such as medicine and science, and having an undergraduate degree is essential for these career paths, so you need to think carefully what you want to do. You could miss out on the added benefits of staying in full-time education and the level of learning that a degree could offer.
How do you get an apprenticeship?
Anyone over 16 years of age (and not in full-time education) living in England can apply to become an apprentice.
Unless you have been living on the moon you are probably aware that the national and world economy has been on a downward spiral for many years and there are not the career paths there once were, yet we still have skills gaps. Apprenticeships can heal this rift. It might seem like we are going back to the good old days with apprenticeships, but there was nothing wrong with the good old days really.
Re-building a work force
In many ways it is a step forward. This way we can rebuild a skilled and “in demand” work force, one where high quality ongoing training is given and people are encouraged to take pride in their work and do their job well. Who knows, one day it could be you or your child who has their own company thanks to in-depth training and opportunity an apprenticeship gave, and they may be the ones offering future generations an apprenticeship, and them telling their apprentices “you’re hired!”