A blue-green background with an image with a black man sitting at a desk and a white woman standing in an office setting. To the left of the image is the title: "Benefits of Apprenticeships for Employers and Learners." In the bottom centre is the Brian Vander Waal brand logo.
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A young woman named Amelia was fresh out of high school, unsure of her career path. University seemed daunting, both financially and academically. She didn’t fancy taking on a debt of more than £30,000. Then, she discovered apprenticeships. It provided a unique opportunity to gain valuable skills, earn a living, and launch her career while learning from the best. She found a Software Developer Degree Apprenticeship vacancy at Experian and applied.  She secured her dream apprenticeship after achieving success at the application and interview stage! As this example shows, apprenticeships transform lives and shape the future of the UK workforce. Apprenticeships positively impact individuals, businesses, and the economy as a whole. This article explores the benefits of apprenticeships within the UK context for employers and potential apprentices.

Who am I, and why should you trust my Careers and Employment Information?

My name is Brian Vander Waal, and I am a Career Coach, Careers writer, and Careers expert. I have invested more than 17 years in providing thousands of clients with career information, advice, and guidance. I have also worked as an Apprenticeship Network Coordinator and Traineeship Coordinator, supporting employers in setting up apprenticeships. Further, I have supported many apprentices and trainees in apprenticeship and traineeship programmes. This article was written based on my experience and expertise as an Apprenticeship Coordinator, Traineeship Coordinator, Career Coach, Careers Adviser, and Personal Adviser. It is also based on my apprenticeship expertise and extensive research.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a structured vocational training programme combining on-the-job and classroom learning. This opportunity is open to individuals aged 16 and above, enabling them to develop crucial skills and knowledge essential for their future careers. It enables individuals to gain paid work experience while earning a qualification in their chosen field.

Types of apprenticeships

Apprenticeship programmes equip individuals with industry-specific qualifications and skills, making them valuable assets to the organisation. These qualifications are tailored to the needs of the chosen field, ensuring that apprentices possess the competencies required for success in their respective roles. There are various types of apprenticeships and apprenticeship levels. Each type offers unique advantages for employers, catering to different skill requirements and industry demands. 

Apprenticeship Levels

The apprenticeship levels include the following:

  • Intermediate Level Apprenticeships are Level 2 apprenticeships, equivalent to four to five GCSEs.
  • Advanced Apprenticeships are Level 3 apprenticeships, equivalent to two A-Levels.
  • Higher Apprenticeships are Level 4 and 5 apprenticeships, equivalent to a HNC, HND or foundation degree.
  • Degree Apprenticeships are Level 6 and 7 apprenticeships equivalent to a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Intermediate Apprenticeships are the lowest level of apprenticeships available in the UK, and degree apprenticeships are the highest level of apprenticeships available in the UK.

Apprenticeship Sectors, Qualifications and Skills Areas

Apprenticeships are available in various sectors and skill areas, including:

  • Agriculture, environmental and animal care (e.g. Ecologist, Dog Grooming, Veterinary Care Support, etc.)
  • Business and Administration (e.g. Business Administrator, HR & Compliance Support, Client Liaison Officer, etc.)
  • Care Services (e.g. Playworker, Social Care Worker, Children’s Home Deputy Manager, etc.)
  • Catering and Hospitality (e.g. Chef, Bar and Waiting, Hospitality Team Member)
  • Construction and the built environment (e.g. Bricklayer, Electrician, Plumber, Plasterer, Chartered Surveyor, etc.)
  • Creative and design (e.g. Marketing, Production Assistant, Content Creator, Audiovisual, Theatre and Events Technician, etc.)
  • Digital (e.g. IT Technician, Data Analyst, Software Developer, Cyber Security, etc.)
  • Education and early years (e.g. Teaching Assistant, Early Years Educator, Childcare, etc.)
  • Engineering and manufacturing (e.g. Engineering Fitter, Vehicle Damage Assessor, Forklift Engineering, HGV Technician, etc.)
  • Hair and beauty (e.g. Hairdressing, Barber, etc.)
  • Health and science (e.g. Pharmacy Technician, Dental Nurse, Optical Assistant, Community Activator Coach, etc.)
  • Legal, finance and accounting (e.g. Solicitor, Paralegal, Finance Analyst, Accounting, Insurance Broker, etc.)
  • Protective services (e.g. Police Constable, Health, Safety & Environment, RAF Regiment Gunner, etc.) 
  • Sales, marketing and procurement (e.g. Events Coordinator, Trade Supplier, Assistant Property Manager, etc.)
  • Transport & logistics (e.g. International Logistics Administrator, Warehouse Operative, Bus Driver, etc.)
  • And Much more! (Source: apprenticeships.gov.uk)

These programmes cater to various industry needs and allow individuals to complete an apprenticeship in their chosen field. 

Benefits of Apprenticeships for Learners and Current Employees

A blue-green background with an image with young man in a suit smiling. To the left of the image is the title: "Benefits of Apprenticeships for Learners
and Current Employees." In the bottom centre is the Brian Vander Waal brand logo.

Apprenticeships are crucial in developing learners’ skills, making them valuable assets to employers. Apprenticeships also have many other benefits for employees. I have outlined ten of these benefits below.

1. Hands-on Learning Experience

Apprenticeships provide a practical, on-the-job training experience, imparting the skills needed for that job and sector. The work experience equips apprentices with practical skills essential for their professional growth.

2. Acquisition of Industry-Specific Skills

Individuals undertaking apprenticeships acquire industry-specific skills and knowledge, ensuring a solid foundation for their chosen career path. Apprenticeships also offer a platform for developing and enhancing skills, contributing to overall career development and success.

3. Enhanced Career Prospects

Completing an apprenticeship enhances career prospects, offering a clear pathway for advancement and long-term success within the chosen industry. Apprenticeships open up opportunities for career progression as employees gain a recognised qualification and demonstrate their capabilities, paving the way for promotions and increased responsibilities within the organisation.

4. Exposure to Real-World Challenges and Scenarios

Apprentices gain exposure to real-world situations, industry challenges and scenarios, preparing them to apply their skills and knowledge effectively in professional settings.

5. Financial Advantages

Apprenticeships allow students to earn a steady income while gaining new skills and knowledge, ensuring financial stability during the learning process. 

Through earning while learning, apprentices can avoid student loan debt and have the potential for higher wages post-apprenticeship. In fact, studies show that apprentices earn 18% more than their non-apprenticeship counterparts five years after completing their training (National Apprenticeship Service, 2023).

Various financial support schemes are also available, making apprenticeships attractive for those seeking to enter the workforce or change career paths. 

6. Diverse Career Pathways

Completing an apprenticeship opens doors to diverse career paths, offering a secure foundation for future professional growth. They allow individuals to pursue different industries and roles based on their interests and aspirations.  

7. Increased Employability Skills

Graduates of apprenticeship programmes often possess enhanced employability skills, making them more desirable in the job market.

8. Professional Development Opportunities

Apprenticeships provide a platform for individuals to upskill, acquire new talents, and enhance their career prospects within their chosen fields. Existing employees can benefit from apprenticeship programmes by accessing professional development opportunities to upskill and improve their capabilities. 

9. Lifelong Learning Culture

Through apprenticeships, individuals develop a lifelong learning mindset and skills. As a result, they can continuously improve and stay relevant in their chosen field.

10. Social and Community Impact

Apprenticeships have a social and community impact by producing skilled professionals who positively contribute to society and the economy. Apprenticeships also improve social mobility, giving people from all backgrounds better life chances. 

Advantages of Apprenticeships for Employers

A blue-green background with an image with man in a suit standing in the centre of a circle of people. He is an apprentice.  The team around him represent Apprenticeship employers.  There are several beams of light shining down on all the people. To the left of the image is the title: "Advantages of Apprenticeships for Employers." In the bottom centre is the Brian Vander Waal brand logo.

Employers can access motivated individuals eager to learn and contribute to the organisation when hiring an apprentice. By providing on-the-job training, businesses can mould apprentices to fit their specific needs, ensuring a skilled workforce for the future.

Employers who participate in apprenticeship programmes also play an important role in contributing to the overall growth and development of the workforce. Apprenticeships also have many other benefits for employees. I have outlined five of these benefits below.

1. Access to Fresh Talent

Employers benefit from apprenticeships by gaining access to new talent and fresh perspectives, which can invigorate their workforce and bring in innovative ideas. Apprenticeships allow employers to nurture homegrown talent, ensuring a loyal and dedicated workforce. Employers have the opportunity to shape and guide the skills and knowledge of future employees.

Apprenticeship programmes provide financial benefits to many employers. The UK government estimates that apprenticeships contribute £19 billion annually to the UK economy (Department for Education, 2023). This impact is undeniable for both businesses and the broader economy. 

Apprenticeship programmes also offer a cost-effective approach to recruitment and training, allowing organisations to tailor the learning experience to their specific needs and industry requirements. 

Further, employers can often access funding and grants.

3. Increased Productivity and Efficiency

Research shows a 24% increase in productivity for businesses with apprentices (Department for Education, 2022). Their fresh perspectives and innovative thinking contribute to a dynamic work environment. Apprentices also improve the productivity and efficiency of their teams by bringing in the latest skills and knowledge required for the job. Further, by investing in apprenticeship training, employers can increase staff retention.

4. Future-Proofing the Workforce

Hiring apprentices secures an organisation’s future by nurturing skilled, qualified individuals who can fill crucial roles as the business evolves. In fact, eighty-six per cent of employers said apprenticeships helped them develop skills relevant to the needs of their organisation (Source: apprenticeships.gov.uk). By investing in apprenticeships, organisations can also future-proof their workforce by continually upskilling and enhancing the capabilities of their current employees.

5. Enhanced Employer Brand and Reputation

Engaging in apprenticeship programs fosters a positive employer brand by showcasing the organisation’s commitment to:

  • Investing in professional development
  • Contributing to the growth of individuals, including new staff and current employees
  • Contributing to the growth of the economy. 

Benefits of Apprenticeships for Employers in Different Sectors

Industry-specific Advantages of Apprenticeships for Employers

Across different sectors, apprenticeships play a pivotal role in addressing specific skill shortages and fostering the growth of a skilled workforce. Employers in sectors such as healthcare, technology, and manufacturing benefit from tailored apprenticeship programmes that meet the unique demands of their industry. Apprenticeships nurture a new generation of skilled professionals. Employers can witness the positive impact of apprenticeships as they observe the growth and development of apprentices contributing to the innovation and progress of their sector. 

Apprenticeships Help in Addressing Skills Shortages in Various Organisations

Over 30% of UK businesses report difficulty finding skilled workers (Institute for Fiscal Studies, 2023). Apprenticeships provide a structured pathway to bridge the skills gap, enabling employers to cultivate a pipeline of competent and qualified professionals with industry-specific skills. Through apprenticeship programmes, organisations can actively contribute to reducing skills shortages within their company.

Understanding the Apprenticeship Levy and Hiring an Apprentice

What is the Apprenticeship Levy and How Does it Benefit Employers?

The apprenticeship levy is a government initiative that requires large organisations to invest in apprenticeships. By contributing to the levy, employers can access funds to support the training and development of apprentices, thus incentivising the growth of apprenticeship programmes within their organisations.

Key Considerations When Hiring an Apprentice

When hiring an apprentice, employers should consider the specific skills and attributes they seek in potential candidates. It is essential to align the apprenticeship programme with the organisation’s goals and objectives, ensuring it complements the existing workforce. Employers can customise apprenticeship programmes to align with their business objectives. By adapting apprenticeship training to the organisation’s specific needs, employers can maximise the programme’s impact on their workforce and overall business performance.

How Can Employers Maximise the Benefits of Apprenticeships?

Employers can maximise the benefits of apprenticeships by: 

  • Actively engaging with apprentices.
  • Providing apprentices with opportunities to learn, grow, and contribute to the organisation. 
  • Offering mentorship, pastoral support, skill development, and exposure to meaningful work tasks
  • Retaining the apprentice as a full-time employee upon completion of the apprenticeship.

Conclusion – Benefits of Apprenticeships for Employers and Learners

Apprenticeships are a fantastic way for businesses to access a motivated and skilled workforce while providing individuals with valuable work experience and a recognised qualification. For learners, apprenticeships offer a pathway to acquire practical skills, enhance career prospects, and secure financial stability. Meanwhile, employers benefit from accessing fresh talent, increasing productivity, having a positive employer brand, and future-proofing their workforce. Apprenticeships stand as a win-win solution.

As we recognize the immense potential of apprenticeships in shaping the future, I urge both learners and employers to seize this opportunity. Learners, take the leap and explore apprenticeship opportunities to kickstart your career journey. Employers, embrace apprenticeships as a strategic investment, actively engage with apprentices, and cultivate a skilled and dedicated workforce. Together, let’s harness the power of apprenticeships to unlock endless possibilities for economic growth, success, social mobility and contribution to the UK workforce.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Benefits of Apprenticeships for Employers and Learners

Since it is necessary to remain in some form of education until you are 18, are 16 to 18 year olds allowed to do apprenticeships?

Yes, apprenticeships count towards the educational requirement. Until you reach 18 years old, you must choose one of the following options:

1. Continue your education full-time, such as attending sixth form or college.
2. Commence an apprenticeship.
3. Engage in part-time education or training while dedicating at least 20 hours per week to work or volunteer activities.

Do apprenticeships provide practical training for learners?

Absolutely, apprenticeships don’t just offer theoretical knowledge. They provide practical training in the workplace, allowing learners to gain hands-on experience under the guidance of experienced professionals.

Do employers have to pay apprentices national minimum wage?

Yes, employers must pay the national minimum wage for apprentices, which will be £6.40 from April 2024. This is the mimimum employers can pay apprentices, but employers may pay more. A national minimum wage ensures that apprentices are compensated fairly for their work whilst gaining valuable skills and experience.

How are apprenticeship programs developed by employers?

A: Employers can design and develop apprenticeship programs that suit their specific business needs. Apprenticeships offer an employer a customizable and adaptable approach. 

How can employers share the cost of apprenticeship training with the government?

Employers can access government funding to share the cost of apprenticeship training. This financial support helps to reduce the financial burden on businesses and encourages more employers to take on apprentices. If you’re a small employer, you qualify for government funding covering between 95% and 100% of apprentice training costs. Conversely, large employers can utilize their levy funds to cover apprenticeship training expenses.

Can apprenticeships help in reducing recruitment costs for employers?

Yes, by investing in apprenticeships, many employers have seen a reduction in their recruitment costs. This is due to the ability to train and develop talent from within the organization, thus minimizing the need for external hires.

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