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How to set up an apprenticeships programme

Conor McArdle

Many point to apprentices being tomorrow’s top talent. Here is a guide to getting the next generation of workers on the path to a career in your organisation. Contributor Written by Conor McArdle, Content Writer –  Brighter Business

For businesses, there has never been a better time to offer an apprenticeship scheme. Thanks to a new format introduced in 2017, there is a real drive to get young people into work, backed by substantial funding (more on that in a bit).

Apprenticeships are available across the jobs market, and your industry could be the perfect fit for the workers of tomorrow. Schemes must last for at least one year, and can go on for as long as five years, depending on what level qualification the candidate is working towards.

Apprenticeships represent an important pathway into the workplace for recent school leavers, offering them the opportunity to gain vital experience while learning and earning, an important step in building a career. The small business experts at Brighter Business have put together this guide on how you can start an apprenticeship scheme.

 Firstly – why should my business have an apprenticeship scheme?

There are several benefits to setting up an apprenticeship scheme. Bringing an apprentice into your workplace could help to meet a skills or resource shortage. There are also business benefits; according to a report published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), 66% of employers experienced improved staff morale, while 70% saw an improved in their product or service offering.

From a reputational point of view, being seen to help combat youth unemployment – which is significantly higher than the national average – can help to raise the profile of your business in the local area, while also contributing in a tangible way to the local economy. There are also benefits in terms of social mobility and diversity, according to the CIPD.

Finally, the government is providing support to small businesses (with a pay billing of less than £3m) by covering almost all the costs of apprentice training. Businesses that qualify cover just 10% of these costs, while the government provides the remaining 90%.

 How to set up an apprenticeship scheme
In establishing an apprenticeship scheme, you’ll need to first choose a framework that is suitable for your industry. This is essentially a document that outlines all the expectations and standards that an apprenticeship scheme must meet.

Next, you will need to identify a training provider for your apprentices. See the Gov.UK page for an easy way to search qualifications on offer. At this stage, you may want to consider getting in touch with local education institutions to see if they would like to partner with your business with an established apprenticeship scheme.

Try to make the scheme as interesting as possible for the applicants and make sure there are mechanisms in place to offer support, as well as appropriate training and assessment measures.

Once you have recruited, you must draw up a legal agreement with the apprentice, and you need to meet all the legal requirements (including wages, benefits and a minimum number of hours and training). Importantly, apprenticeships aren’t exclusive to school leavers. They can also be offered to current employees who may wish to gain a qualification for the work they already do (or who may want to branch out and discover a different area of the business).

 Still not sure?
If you don’t think your business is at the stage to introduce an apprenticeship scheme, you can start by offering a traineeship, a precursor scheme. Other arrangements, such as work experience and internships are other options to explore to expand your early careers offering. Regardless of the type of programme you offer, you can be assured that you’re contributing to a more talented and diverse pool of candidates, both for your business today and the businesses of the future.

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