A small business guide to employing an apprentice

Apprenticeships: Good for business?

The business world is changing at a rapid rate. The competition to secure full-time, long-term, decently paid employment is harder than ever. The costs of full-time further education have sky-rocketed too. A typical student on a three-year uni course OUTSIDE London is expected to graduate with around £35,000 – £40,000 of student loan debts. And then there’s the black cloud of trying to find a job at the end of it.

The fact is, it’s a skills market out there with prospective employers increasingly wanting you to actually have them; often times a lot more than the piece of paper that proves you didn’t spend your entire uni career drinking bad wine in the student union. That’s where apprenticeships come in.

At WBC, our journey into employing our first apprentice as part of the government apprentice scheme started last year with Leanne McCloud. We quickly learned that not only is an apprenticeship a real job with real training, allowing you to earn while you learn and get recognised qualifications at the end of it, we also saw first-hand the benefits it can bring to small businesses too.

Read our question and answer with Leanne, to see just what it’s like to be an apprentice in one of today’s small businesses.

ds-2-psychologyThe basics

If you live in England, are over 16 and not in full-time education, you can apply for a government apprenticeship scheme (Link at the bottom of the page).

They take between one and four years to complete and cover more than 1,200 job roles in a range of industries, from engineering to financial advice, veterinary nursing to accountancy.

Benefits for apprentice

  • Progress in your career: surveys show that employers recognise and value apprenticeships, with a bit of hard work you could rise through the ranks a lot more quickly.
  • Achieve sought-after qualifications: apprenticeships are the gold standard for work-based learning.
  • Learn job-specific skills: learn from knowledgeable tutors and work alongside experienced staff to gain in-demand skills that are often transferrable.
  • Earn a salary: the average wage for an apprentice is £170 per week.

Apprenticeships

Benefits for Employers:

  • 80%  of companies who invest in apprentices have reported a significant increase in employee retention
  • 81% of consumers favour using a company which takes on apprentices.
  • 92% of employers believe that apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce.
  • One in five employers are hiring more apprentices to help them through the tough economic climate.
  • Apprenticeship programmes allow training to take part at the workforce with little disruption to business operations.
  • 59% report that training apprentices is more cost-effective than hiring skilled staff, with 59% believing that apprenticeships lead to lower overall training costs and 53% feeling that they reduce recruitment costs.
  • In terms of the return on investment linked to apprenticeships, 41% say that their apprentices make a valuable contribution to the business during their training period, while a further third (33%) report that apprentices add value within their first few weeks (or even from day one).

1524603_720589697952204_612338387_nQuestion & Answer with Leanne McCloud

Now a full-time member of our customer sales team with certificates in first aid, health & safety, fire warden and more than a year’s experience as a linchpin between our sales and branding division, Leanne is a success story. We can’t recommend enough that other small businesses out there consider looking at the program for themselves.

Why did you join the government apprenticeship scheme?
To gain a qualification and experience in Business administration.

What was your apprenticeship called?
Business Administration Level 2

What qualifications did you need?
GCSE’s A-C, but if you don’t have them, don’t worry, I got a D! Any downfalls can be made up along the course of the apprenticeship

What qualifications did you receive at the end of it?
NVQ Level 2 in Business Administration

How did you find an employer?
Through South London Business who I stumbled across when applying for endless amounts of jobs.

Describe a typical day? What skills did you learn? Was it nerve racking or easy to get used to?
There’s no such thing as a typical day at WBC. I was always doing something new, something different. I learnt so many different skills through working with all the sections that make up the business. It’s a relatively small team, so everyone is expected to ‘muck in’. It was nerve racking and daunting at first, but everyone was so welcoming that the nerves quickly disappeared.  

What was the academic work like?
To be honest I’m not really a book learner so it was slightly dull. However, I managed to whiz through and pass, and begin focusing on learning more about my working environment, progressing and making my own role in the business.

How was it surviving on the scheme financially? Did the business help at all with travel etc?
It’s tough living in London and being on an apprentice wage but WBC have been so supportive. They put me on their bonus scheme and the lunches are provided which really helps with keeping costs down. I also got a discounted travel rate throughout my apprenticeship scheme.

What were the high points?
Learning so much, having the chance to work with everyone at WBC and really get a feel for how a business is run along with all the bits that come together to ensure everything runs smoothly.  

Low points?
Even with all the help from WBC, the wage is still a struggle in pricey London.

From apprentice to full time staff, how was that? What does the future hold?
I entered the company not knowing what I wanted to do or where I wanted to be, 2 and a half years down the line and I am studying accountancy and currently based in customer service. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome!

What would you say to the next ‘you’ who might be thinking of considering an apprenticeship job?
GO FOR IT! Take the plunge, it’s worth it in the end, the most valuable thing to an employer is experience, not just qualifications. With an apprenticeship you get both and get paid to learn!

Would you recommend WBC?
HELL YES. You get an all-round experience, with some pretty cool people! 

To employ an apprentice click here
To become an apprentice click here

Are you looking for work? Do you like the sound of working for a small but perfectly formed online business that’s passionate about supporting local community and committed to finding creative ways to help Britain’s retailers sell more, why not consider coming to work with us?
Send your CV to job@wbc.co.uk

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