Posted on by Jessica Peaty

Pros and Cons of Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are often used as a source of employment by many firms across industries. Whether you view them as a cheaper way to bolster employee numbers, or a means to grant young adults valuable experience, apprenticeships are on the rise. In fact, just over half a million people in the UK started apprenticeships across 2015/16, a marked increase against the previous year.

There are a number of possible reasons for this. One could be that young adults are put off from the eye-watering higher education fees. Some may want to join a firm for the experience, or to try something new. Then there’s always the prospect of a qualification, which along with the experience looks superb on CVs.

In this post we’re going to weigh up the benefits and setbacks of taking on apprentices. As an increasingly emergent career start among young adults, they’ve become an important option. But are apprenticeships the right fit for your business? Read on to find out.

Pros

Your candidates will be enthusiastic

Apprenticeship candidates are there to learn and gain experience. Ideal candidates should be able to express why they’re interested in your particular field. Enthusiasm is infectious, and can lead to a much more vibrant interview than the norm. Whether or not they’ll be able to hold onto that drive when employed, obviously can’t be determined at the interview stage.

They’re a great source of talent

Apprenticeships aren’t just for those who want to get a foot in the door. There are a wide range of apprenticeship levels and qualifications, with the higher tiers expecting to draw in candidates who already have the base level of experience, and beyond. For example, if you’ve arranged a Level 5-7 apprenticeship, this ties in nicely with the above point. You’re again likely to land a candidate with the necessary enthusiasm, and one that’s had potentially years of experience under their belt already.

You’re likely already digital

Digital devices come as second nature to young adults. While it’s easy to turn that into a negative, all it means is that the computers and equipment you use will not require any special kind of training. Training still needs to be done for any specialised programs. This could be anything from till systems to spreadsheet software, social media tools and programming environments. However it’s possible that the apprentice has already had experience with any one of these things, which can be a huge benefit to your business.

Successful apprentices can become reliable hires for your business

Upon completion of the course, a common option for businesses is to take on the apprentice full time. This can save you tons of time during the hiring process if you already have candidates who are experienced and can thrive in your business’s environment.

Cons

Course completion rate is fairly low

According to the stats (linked above) released by UK Parliament, 904,800 started an apprenticeship in the 2015/16 period, which is great. However, the previous year saw just 260,900 out of 871,000 complete their apprenticeship. That’s a rough estimate of 1 in 3.5 to 4 people. Be sure to keep this in mind if you decide to adopt an apprenticeship program.

Pay is typically low for first year apprentices

Apprentices on courses of Level 3 or lower usually aren’t paid much. The national minimum wage for first year apprentices is £3.40, which may not be the most encouraging sum for everyone. Especially when the typical length of an apprenticeship can be anywhere from 12-18 months. However, given the rise in the number of apprentice placements over the last few years, this may not be as problematic as we thought.

Apprentices may underestimate their responsibilities

Depending on the business, apprenticeships can have a reputation of throwing candidates in at the deep end from day one. Such overwhelming responsibility is a chief cause of why so many drop out of the program. This is a definite risk you take as a business when taking on an apprentice. But there are ways to mitigate the risk. Easing apprentices into the role gradually will better prepare them to meet larger responsibilities as their experience grows and confidence in the role improves.

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