How to introduce apprenticeships into your small business

More than ever before, people are favouring small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to launch and progress their careers. From entry to advanced level, apprenticeships bring huge business benefits. But navigating funding, recruitment and training puts off many SME owners.

The benefits of apprenticeships for SMEs

Quality training on the job, a salary, professional development – it’s easy to see why more people than ever are choosing apprenticeships. But what are the benefits to your business?

Home-grown talent

Apprenticeships allow you to develop an employee with the exact attributes that fit your organisational needs and culture.

Investing in your business

Spending a minimum of 12 months learning the knowledge, skills and behaviours specific to their role, your apprentice will be engaged and invested in your business.

Setting the standard

With new apprenticeship standards designed by employers, your apprentice will get high quality, industry-specific training and development that they’ll then apply to your business.

From entry to advanced levels

You can take on a new apprentice or develop an existing employee. From entry-level to more advanced specialist or managerial apprenticeships, you’ll showcase how your business invests in employees and progresses their careers.

Better staff retention

With a strong focus on training and development, all your employees will be more engaged and motivated. Research shows that employing apprentices increases overall staff retention.

Fresh new skills

Employing a new apprentices also means bringing in new skills, talents, ideas and creativity.

Business sense

SMEs have said that hiring apprentices not only increases productivity, but also helps them to win new business.

What do SMEs say about apprentices?

96% say they benefit their business

82% take on apprentices to build their business’s skills capacity

69% of say that they improve staff retention

73% that they improve morale

£214 per week is the average amount by which they increase business productivity

How to launch apprenticeships for SMEs

Thinking about starting an apprenticeship scheme? Like many SMEs, you may appreciate the benefits but still feel that there are barriers in your way, like working out how to get funding and knowing how to start an apprenticeship scheme.

Let’s make it simple.

Choosing the right apprenticeship scheme

There are many different apprenticeship schemes to choose from (and new ones being added all the time). While these schemes are structured, they are flexible enough for you to tailor them with the help of your training provider.

For example, apprentices will always spend at least 20% of their time learning skills beyond their usual role, such as health and safety training or coaching skills. You can identify which areas might be most useful.

Funding your apprentice

You have to pay your apprentice the minimum wage or more. And to attract the best talent, it’s worth making their salary competitive. You’ll need to pay for their training too, but there is government funding to help you.

Help with funding

  • Most SMEs (90%) don’t have to contribute to the apprenticeship levy. That gives you a few funding options to help you train and assess your apprentice: The government will pay 95% of your apprentice’s training and assessment costs for the lifetime of the apprenticeship (up to funding band maximum).
  • You’ll get an extra £1,000 grant if your apprentice is 16-18 years old, or a 19-24-year-old who has previously been in care.
  • If your business employs fewer than 50 people, the government will pay all training and assessment costs for 16-18-year-old apprentices.
  • SMEs who take on apprentices with additional learning needs will get further support.

7-steps to setting up your apprenticeship scheme

Ready to hire an apprentice? Follow this step-by-step guide.

Identify your skills gap and decide whether you want to develop an existing employee or take on someone new.

Decide whether you want an entry-level role or more advanced level.

Connect with a training provider.

Choose the apprenticeship framework or standard that best fits the role – if you’re unsure of the best fit, ask your training provider for support with this.

Check what funding you can get.

Advertise your apprenticeship if you’re employing someone new (your training provider should be able to help with the recruitment process).

Make an apprenticeship agreement and commitment statement with your apprentice.

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The Portal

The Portal is a tool for apprenticeship learners and managers to track learner progression and upload evidence.

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FUSE is an online learning community where apprenticeship learners can access resources, and interact with tutors and other learners.

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Apprenticeship Job Boards

The Apprenticeship Job Board - click here to apply for apprenticeship jobs and view your applications. 

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