Hiring an apprentice can often reap rewards for entrepreneurs, as the investment in training up a young person often pays off quickly.
“As an employer, we have the chance to give a young person an opportunity to make a start. We also get the chance to take on a junior team member with low risk and no recruitment costs, who will be motivated by a structured training programme,” says Dan May, operations director at IT consultancy Ramsac.
To encourage businesses to hire apprentices, the government has launched a new scheme, the Apprentice Grant for Employers, which offers businesses a £2,500 grant for each 16 or 17-year-old apprentice taken on.
This surely sweetens the deal, especially as apprentices often can be more driven, as Shaz Memon, an entrepreneur who founded digital design agency Digimax, explains:
“The right apprentice can make an incredible difference to your business and have a huge impact. More often than not, they are driven to learn and push themselves to achieve, which is exactly what you want from the people you work with.”
Research certainly supports this – 72 per cent of businesses that currently employ apprentices said they made a positive contribution during the recession, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).
However, Simon Ball of Coverzones.com, the online small business insurance portal, warns that entrepreneurs do need to check the fine print of employing an apprentice: “The government is potentially leading smaller businesses into a bear trap by not clarifying the legal implications of taking on trainee staff, including apprentices.”
Indeed, many small businesses aren’t aware that apprentices and temporary workers come under the same classification as full-time employees. They must therefore be covered by an employer’s liability policy, or else potentially face a fine of £2,500 for each day they remain uninsured.
But David Frost of the BCC, remains convinced that apprenticeships remain an attractive proposition overall.
“The recession has taught us two key things: that businesses’ long-term commitment to investment in their workforce really pays off, and that young people must be effectively brought into employment. Apprenticeship programmes offer both of these factors.
"We would strongly advise all businesses to consider apprenticeships as part of their recruitment policy."
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