Five recommendations for future-proofing apprenticeships in your business

Businesses in the Community (BITC), backed by the City & Guilds Group, has launched Future Proof, a campaign to break down barriers in recruitment and create quality accessible jobs for all young people.

Apprentices have been highlighted as the key for ending the skills gap and a way of supporting business growth so, with National Apprenticeship Week drawing to a close, we’ve got the lowdown on how you make apprentices a sustainable part of the company.

(1) Identify how apprenticeships can address your business needs

The key to designing an effective, sustainable apprenticeship programme is to ensure that it is embedded in your workforce planning strategy and responds to real and tangible business needs, instead of it being a separate bolt-on initiative.

(2) Choose standards that address current and future skills gaps in your business

All apprentices must complete an approved course of training aligned to a job role, now called a “standard” under the new system in England. There is a very broad list of standards to choose from, and they allow employers to bring specific skills into the business.

By identifying what skills your business needs now and in a few years’ time, you will be able to select the standards that best match these needs. If an appropriate standard doesn’t currently exist, you can design your own.

(3) Calculate costs and research what funding you’re eligible for

There are two direct costs associated with employing apprentices: their wages and the cost of their training. The government provides funding to cover some, or all of, the training costs depending on which criteria you and your apprentices meet, but you must cover the wage costs yourself.

If you are a larger employer and need to pay the Apprenticeship Levy, costing 0.5 per cent of your UK wage bill, you will be able to claim back the amount you pay as digital vouchers to spend on apprenticeship training.

By calculating this amount now, you will have a clear idea of what your training budget will be. Individual training fees will range from £3,000 to £27,000 depending on the level and complexity of training required. 

Read more from National Apprenticeship Week 2016:

(4) Find a suitable training provider

There are many different training providers to choose from including local colleges, private training companies and apprenticeship training agencies, and the National Apprenticeship Service has a useful online search tool which you can use to find a list of registered providers.

Employers can also opt to register as a training provider to deliver their own in-house programme, however they need to comply with the same rules and register with Ofsted. You can mix and match the range of local and national providers you partner with to design the best scheme for your business.

(5) Equip your apprentices with the skills they need to flourish in your organisation

In order to help your apprentices to progress in your organisation, you need to equip them with the kinds of skills and experience they will need for more advanced roles.

These don’t just have to be the technical skills they learn as part of their training – you can help them to develop a broader skill set through social action and leadership activities.

Just remember, your learner can become a master – check out the six famous UK leaders that started off as apprentices.

Grace Mehenna, campaign director talent & skills at Business in the Community

Image: Shutterstock

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