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Home Tradesman Insights A beginner’s guide to hiring an apprentice

A beginner’s guide to hiring an apprentice

Is it time to pass on your skills and experience to the next generation?


If you’re thinking about hiring an apprentice, then the chances are, you’re in a strong position. Business is probably picking up and you’re in need of an extra pair of hands on site. Or, you’re at a stage in your career where that industry knowledge is ready to pass on to someone else. You’re confident your experience is worth sharing.

Whatever your reason for taking on an apprentice there are a number of things you need to consider – not least whether you’re insured to protect your apprentice. Here at Tradesman Saver, we offer a complete range of insurance policies, including public liability insurance policies, to protect your business, your customers, your employees and your reputation.

How to find an apprentice

There are a number of ways you can employ an apprentice, and word of mouth continues to be a solid option. If you’ve been in the construction industry for some time, you would have hopefully made some contacts. If you’re planning to hire an apprentice, let your network know.

Ask the family to spread the word. Hiring someone through a contact could work out better in the long run. For example, if a friend of the family has a recent school leaver who is looking to learn a trade, arrange a meeting. This will give you a chance to see how eager they are and set some expectations.

Other options to find an apprentice include hiring through accredited schemes and training providers. With this option the apprentice has made a commitment to learn on the job. They have made the decision not to attend, what’s considered, a more formal education route. And this is a good sign. In other words, the apprentice has taken the first step and will be seeking opportunities.

You’ll also find some useful resources online. Here, you can post job ads and read information on how to find an apprentice on social media and at open days. Once your job advert has been set-up you can manage the recruitment process yourself or this can be done on your behalf.

Some examples of trades that offer apprenticeships, include:

  • Bricklaying, plastering, electricians
  • Building services
  • Civil engineering
  • Quantity surveying
  • Project management
  • Design engineering

It’s also worth noting that the apprentice must be over the age of 16, live in England, and not already be in full-time education.


Events like Building Careers Live is also a great place to find an apprentice. 


Events like Building Careers Live is also a great place to find an apprentice.

Again, it’s important to set expectations. The apprentice will have to get used to early mornings. Working outside in the heat, the rain, the cold and the wind. And be prepared to spend at least half their time attending training workshops and classroom based learning (at least 20% of the working week). They will need to be punctual, professional around customers, and confident with suppliers.

You will also need to consider how well you will get on with each other. There will be times when you have a disagreement, or things don’t go as planned. That’s part of life. But if you think there is potential to clash more often than not, then you might want to rethink the partnership.

Remember, you’ll be spending a lot of time together (1 to 5 years) and offering support where needed. You must be confident that rapport can be built. No one wants to be let down and have the time they’ve invested, wasted. Plus, a happy apprentice means they are more likely to brag about what a great boss you are.

Rates of pay and training costs

Long gone are the days when the apprentice was making pocket money. A shortage of skilled tradespeople has pushed pay up across the sector. This means apprentices in some areas of construction are earning up to £25,000 a year.

Pay is determined by the age of the apprentice and the level of qualification they are training for. However, you will be expected to pay a minimum hourly wage, which currently stands at:

  • Under 18 £4.62
  • 18 – 20 £6.56
  • 21 – 22 £8.36
  • 23 and over £8.91

Beyond the minimum wage, it’s up to you. As stated, competition is fierce, and if you’re only willing to pay the minimum, it may be difficult to hire help. There needs to be a fair incentive to attract the best candidate possible. An extra pair of hands could give you more time with the family, or lead to higher paid contacts. So, the investment should pay for itself in the long run.

Training costs are also determined by how old the apprentice is. For example, the cost to train as a gas engineer is £21,000. However, if the apprentice is between the ages of 16-18, training fees are covered by the Apprenticeship Levy. If the apprentice is aged 19 and over, you will pay 5% of the full cost of the apprenticeship.

Next steps

Once the apprentice has completed training and passed their exams, they will be fully qualified to work in their chosen trade. As an employer, you are under no obligation to offer the apprentice a job. However, if the apprentice has proven his or her worth and has brought value to your business, it makes sense to continue the professional relationship.

Hiring an apprentice should be seen as an opportunity to contribute to the future of the industry. By sharing your skills and experience you’re making sure a standard of professional practice will be passed on to future generations.

Tradesman Talk

If you have hired an apprentice in the past, or are considering hiring one in the future, we want to hear your thoughts.

Have your say in the comments below, and click the social buttons to share this article with your audience.

Until next time, make sure it’s Tradesman Saver.

Mark McPherson

Mark McPherson has an MA in Creative Writing and has been crafting content for over a decade. He writes for a range of niches, including the construction industry and insurance sector. Mark has worked internationally as a content writer and teacher.

All articles by Mark McPherson

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