How many times have you considered taking on an apprentice or a new trainee, only to be put off by what seems like a costly and complicated process? After all, isn’t it an awful lot to go through just to get an extra pair of hands on site?
The truth is, there’s a lot more to it than just getting a helping hand to finish a few jobs. In the long-run, taking on that new recruit could well prove to be a game-changer not just for them, but for you as well. Besides, the whole process isn’t half the headache it might seem.
Here’s everything you need to know to make hiring a new apprentice or trainee as simple –and beneficial – as possible.
What exactly is an apprentice?
Taking on an apprentice means taking on someone – typically a young person – who will learn and grow within your business, developing the skills and experience needed to succeed in your trade, whilst at the same time following a framework that enables them to gain qualifications.
Whilst the two words are often used interchangeably, apprenticeships are different from traineeships, which are often shorter, entry-level programs designed to give young people basic experience and foundation skills that they can then use in their apprenticeships.
What’s in it for me?
Sure, all that sounds good for your new recruit, but let’s be honest – what you really want to know is how this is going to benefit you, right?
Okay, so we’ve established that bringing in new blood means having more hands-on help to get jobs done, but if that’s all there was to it, why not just hire an already qualified tradesman to take on the work for you?
For one thing, you never really know what kind of bad habits that tradesman has picked up over the years. Sure, they may get the job done, but that’s no guarantee that they’ll do it to the same standard your customers expect from you. Train an apprentice, however, and you can guide them in carrying out the work exactly as you’d do it which, let’s face it, is much easier than retraining someone already doing the job.
It’s also worth considering how taking on an apprentice can help you meet the demand for services that you’re simply not able to provide with your current workforce.
It’s no secret that there’s a serious skills shortage in the UK construction industry right now. Arranging for your apprentice to learn a particular skill that’s currently missing from your team can be a great way of countering that shortage, expanding the range of services you’re able to offer, and even getting a leg-up on the competition.
Sounds good, but how much does it cost to hire an apprentice?
Not as much as you might think.
The current minimum wage for apprentices is £3.50 per hour, a rate which is set to increase to £3.70 per hour from April 2018. That applies not just to their time spent working with you on site, but any time they spend on formal training.
With traineeships, there is no formal obligation to pay trainees, through the government do urge you to at least cover travel and meal costs.
The best part? There’s lots of financial support available to help you cut the cost of taking on an apprentice.
If your new recruit is aged between 16-18, then The National Apprenticeship Service will cover 100% of the training costs. This is reduced to 50% for those up to age 24, and up to 40% for apprentices aged 24 and over.
Meanwhile, employing an apprentice for the first time (or at least the first time in 12 months) means you could be eligible for a £1,500 grant, providing your apprentice is between 16 and 24 and your business has less than 1,000 employees. Sounds pretty kushty doesn’t it?
What do I have to do to support my apprentice?
At the most basic level, you’ll be required to employee your apprentice for at least 30 hours a week, provide them with a proper induction, and support them throughout their employment and training. This means allowing them time out of work to take on formal training (such as at college), partnering them with a mentor, and ensuring they get the help and guidance they need to develop their skills.
There is, of course, all the usual considerations that you need to take on board when bringing any new employee into your business, such as holiday pay, employer’s liability insurance, and health and safety.
How do I find an apprentice?
Didn’t we tell you the whole thing wasn’t as costly or as complicated as it seemed?
Now that you’ve seen how cost-effective it can be to take on apprentice, there’s only last thing to consider – where to find all this fresh, new talent?
One approach is to simply ask schools, universities, or even your existing employees to see if they know of anyone. That said, you may find it useful to partner with local training organisations, especially as it ensures you’re working with people with the experience in creating apprenticeship contracts and ensuring your recruit is following a proper framework.
If you’re still not sure where to find local training providers or how to go about finding an apprentice, visit The National Apprenticeship Service‘s website, where you’ll find all the in-depth information you need.
Have you benefited from taking on an apprentice or trainee? What tips could you pass to other tradesman to make the process easier? Let us know in the comments below, or get involved via Facebook and Twitter.