Is it time to employ an apprentice?
As UK businesses consider the threat of skills shortages and recruitment difficulties it is no wonder that 83% of employers say that they rely on their apprenticeships programme to provide the skilled workers that they need in the future. The debate about skills shortages has been fuelled by the general disarray surrounding the recent increase in university fees, the knock on effect of which has boosted the demand for apprenticeships.
Apprenticeships are very much on the Government’s agenda and as such, the incentive payment offer of £1,500 for businesses with fewer than 250 employees taking on their first apprentice between the ages of 16 and 24 has been widely publicised. The AGE 16-24 incentive scheme started in February this year and is available for 40,000 eligible employers up until March 2013. For more details about this scheme follow this link: www.apprenticeships.org.uk/Employers/Steps-to-make-it-happen/Incentive.aspx
This is not the only incentive which will make it inviting to take on an apprentice as the Government has also announced funding for Higher Apprenticeships to the tune of £6m, which is part of a £25m programme of targeted support to help employers benefit from taking on an apprentice in a variety of specific business sectors. At the moment the programme is concerned with creating sustainable Higher Apprenticeship programmes that are based on the needs of employers and which are accessible to all and in particular small and medium sized businesses. Follow this link to find out more: http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/Employers/The-Basics/Higher-Apprenticeships.aspx
Along with the Government’s incentives aimed at gaining commitment from employers to engage apprentices, there are also opportunities to recoup a percentage of the training costs depending on the age of the apprentice; 16-18 up to 100%, 19-24 up to 50%, 25+ contributions for specified places.
The minimum wage for apprentices is currently set at £2.70, although research suggests that pay offered by employers is at an average of £170 a week. Employers looking to calculate the potential return on investment for employing an apprentice may find the Apprentice ROI Calculator on the apprenticeships website a useful tool: http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/Employers/ROI-Tool.aspx
With the ever increasing amount of businesses investing in apprenticeships, success rates rising to 76.4% in 2010-11 and with the Government’s commitment to improve apprenticeship standards and overall value, it might be worthwhile considering employing an apprentice in your business.