5 Benefits (and 2 Pitfalls) of Recruiting Apprentices.

Date: 23 August 2018

I wrote a blog back in 2013 about apprenticeships and what the benefits of embracing this scheme are to employers (you can catch up here). 6 years on and tying in with National Apprenticeship Week, it felt like a good time to revisit the high and low points of recruiting apprentices.

Our first venture into recruiting apprentices was 6 years ago. It was such a success that we recruited another apprentice into the business last year. The former was a marketing role and our more recent recruit, Kathrine, was in a sales role. So, am I still a fan of apprenticeships and do the same employer benefits stand? Adding to this, what are the downsides?

   

1) Creating and developing talent

   

Initially I didn’t cite this as a top benefit of taking on apprentices but it’s certainly one of the big takeaways. School leavers and graduates are making their first foray into full time work, they are looking to you to help them carve out a career. You’re looking to them to fill a gap in your team and bring new skills to the pot. Together it is a great match. You are teaching skills and behaviours specifically to meet your business needs. Apprentices are generally eager to learn, have the drive to do well and, as such, will put their energy into doing a great job. As an employer you are developing the talent not just for your business but for the individual’s future employer.

   

2) Ideas

   

The apprentices at ISV have come up with ideas that I would never have thought of. Quite simply, being a decade or so older, I don’t mix in the same circles as them. They use different apps, hang out on different social media (it’s all about Snapchat and Instagram) and live their lives differently to me. Because of this, our apprentices bring another dimension to the team and frequently contribute very valid ideas.

   

3) Content

   

Leading on from the above, the ideas that come from both our apprentices and our less experienced team members have generated some fantastic ideas for marketing. Whether it’s an eye-catching email, a theme to focus on or a great blog from a different perspective, it’s a different angle on content that you might not have considered.

   

4) Salary and Funding

   

This was picked out in my original blog and is still a very valid plus point of hiring apprentices. The Government minimum wage for apprentices age 16-24 is £3.30 per hour. At ISV, I have high standards for our apprentices and in many ways ask the same of them as more seasoned team members or experienced new recruits, so we offer more than the minimum rate. A fair reflection of the input and results expected. Plus there are grants available if your business employs less than 50 people. Up to £1500 can be claimed per apprentice, up to 5 of them, provided they are aged 16-24.

   

5) Bottom Line

   

This is the biggie isn’t it? As a manager, director or business owner you will always have one eye on the bottom line. You will be eager to know if your apprentices are contributing to the business or just making up the numbers. For a sales apprentice, perhaps even an apprentice recruitment consultant, it is easy to see a correlation between activity, achievements and ultimately revenue. This is trickier for marketing but measurable milestones can be put in place like web hits, number of incoming enquiries, content shares etc.

   

So what are the downfalls, if any?

   

The time investment must be taken into account. We are all time poor these days – you are not alone in that so, at the risk of sounding harsh, you need to get over it and make the time. No new recruit, apprentice or not, will work out without your time and effort. If someone else in your team is responsible for the apprentice’s training and development make it abundantly clear what the expectations are and, if necessary, set clear guidelines on time available.

   

Length of tenure can be a worry for some employers. There is a perception that ‘millennials’ are flighty and won’t stick around. This hasn’t generally been my experience. Our marketing apprentice stayed with ISV for over 2 years, which for a young employee in a small team, felt reasonable. We lost our sales apprentice after 8 months, which was gutting for both parties – she was just starting to perform and hit target but she followed her family when they relocated. This was disappointing but has not put me off recruiting apprentices again, the benefits far outweigh any drawbacks. And receiving the following feedback made it all worthwhile…

   

“You gave me a chance to start a career and you will never understand how grateful I am.”

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