Apprenticeships have had a long history, especially in the UK, where master guilds in the medieval period were ancient seats of acquiring skills and craft. its recent avatar dates back to almost two decades ago in 1994 when the government started to provide funds for what was termed modern Apprenticeship programme. The distinctive feature of this so called Modern Apprenticeship programme in the UK has been to replicate the long established traditions of training in engineering sector to other sectors of economy, for example, by way of office administration apprenticeships.
How Do Apprenticeships Work For Employers?
How, then, has this apprenticeship programme fared so far and how enthusiastically have businesses embraced them? What are the incentives for businesses to embrace apprenticeships at all? The popularity of apprenticeship programme among the youth is indisputable if one looks at the available data. It makes sense given that apprenticeships allows them to gain invaluable skills of a trade whilst earning a wage. From the data available, close to 500,000 young people will opt for apprenticeships as an alternative to universities to make a career for themselves. It also appears that the government is fully geared to support the apprenticeship programme as indicated by enhanced spending towards the same.
One of the most visible advantages of adopting an apprenticeship scheme lies in developing a loyal and committed workforce. A vast majority of the apprentices are school and college leavers who join the workforce for the first time and learning the ways of your business and progressing their career within your organisation is a key motivation for them. Combined with the brute facts of harsh economic climate that exists today, these young people are looking for companies that will invest in their future through consistent skills development. The proof of this fact lies in several surveys that shows that almost 80 per cent of surveyed employers think that apprenticeships reduce staff turnover.
Ensuring your talent pool:
Nobody knows the exact talent requirements of a company better than the managers of the company themselves. It’s often the case, especially for companies in sectors with fast evolving technologies and business practices, to have people with the right skill sets available all the time. Choosing the apprenticeship route can significantly mitigate this problem as you hire young people with an enthusiasm to learn and train them for specific roles and requirements as may be determined by your company. If a company in such fluid sectors do not take care to ensure a talent pool, they might find their business erode when their current employees retire or decide to move on to other ventures.
While it is true that apprentices do not bring with themselves any real world work experience, it would be a mistake to dismiss their worth in offering new ideas on growing a business. It should be remembered that today’s youth have grown up with computers and other devices and they have a strong handle on using social media tools and this experience can be harnessed to build a competitive advantage for your business. Once again, the proof of this concept lies in the fact that several surveys have demonstrated that managers are increasingly putting to use the social media skills of their young recruits to build and bolster their brand online.
The return on investment:
It has been suggested that the initial cost of funding an apprentice may put companies off. However, this would be a big mistake as the actual cost of choosing the apprenticeship route is lower than what many expect because of government monetary support and the smaller wage to be paid to apprentices. However, this initial investment seems tiny considering the big payoff. A variety of surveys have proved that apprentices pay themselves off in a few years time and insofar they tend to last a long time with the company, they are invaluable in improving productivity and the bottom line for their company. Indeed, the benefits of training apprentices are best illustrated in a government survey that clearly states that each pound invested in the programme gives a return of 1800 per cent.
What are the other benefits that a company can expect if it chooses the apprenticeship programme?
Let’s hear it straight from the survey results carried out by the National Apprenticeship Service.
- 80 per cent of the managers surveyed were of the opinion that the programme contributed to a reduction in employee turnover.
- 77 per cent of the managers believed their companies were more competitive after adopting the programme
- 76 per cent of the managers said that their apprentices make the workplace more productive
- 81 per cent of the consumers surveyed preferred a company that took apprentices.
- 92 per cent of the managers surveyed were of the view that apprenticeships contributes directly to a more motivated and satisfied work force.
- 83 per cent of the managers surveyed said they were depending on the apprenticeship programme to keep their companies future proof by creating a pool of talented workforce.
- Almost 20 per cent of total companies surveyed were relying on hiring extra apprentices to tide through the tough economic climate
- One of the features of the apprentice programme that makes it popular among managers is on-the-job training without any consequent disruption in the business operations of the company.
- 60 per cent of all managers reported that apprenticeship is more cost effective than hiring skilled staff with an equal percentage reporting that apprenticeship leads to lower overall training costs and slightly over 50 per cent feel that apprenticeship reduce recruitment costs.
- An impressive 41 per cent of total managers felt that apprentices make a valuable contribution during their training period with a further 33 per cent of the opinion that they added value to their organisation from week one itself.