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Apprenticeship – good or bad for the small business?

March 25, 2024

We think good. Now, let us explain why…

Everyone often associates Apprenticeship schemes with the large corporate employer who have the welfare co-ordinator, the role rotation and the years of experience in making them work.  In recent years small businesses have realised the potential to be an even better consideration for the next keen apprentice and with more young people turning their back on university this talent pool is growing.   At Rise HR, we’ve supported and seen many apprentices bring new ideas, new energy and enthusiasm to our customers. Often they allow clients  to grow the existing structure cost effectively, introducing more efficient systems and processes and most importantly developing a clear career path.  So what have we learnt about getting it right first time?

  • Write a clear Job Description, be clear on the skills and attributes the business need.
  • Work closely with your local college to get their view on whether you are pitching the role and advert at the right level, ensuring there is an associated apprenticeship framework.
  • Try and set a day aside for interviews, if it’s an attractive role, you’ll have a lot of budding apprentices keen to apply, we’d recommend a short list of at least 3 and ideally 6 for a strong candidate base.
  • Get the rest of your team involved and enthused and include them in the recruitment & onboarding process.
  • Set the expectations on ‘do’s and don’ts’ in the workplace and talk them through the company policies.
  • Appoint a mentor to support them, with so much to learn, and such a big leap from education to the workplace, having a wise colleague to guide them through will help them grow in confidence.
  • Schedule in time to regularly review their progress and provide helpful feedback.

The social impact of apprenticeship schemes is one to be proud of, contributing to improving employment rates in what is the most challenging time for young people, helping them to secure purposeful work.  

Our customer Blu Fish took on 3 apprentices last year, all of which are progressing well, Mark Cliffe Director told us: “I’m in an industry where it’s hard to recruit the skills needed particularly with a gap in the availability of younger qualified engineers. One way To be able guarantee good quality is to provide the training and supervision directly ourselves  with the assurance that the apprentices are getting the theory in the background at college is great.  Over the years we’ve successfully supported 8 apprentices across the electrical and plumbing and heating trades and plan to continue with this approach.

We also asked to Andy Bates, FD of Gloucestershire College for his view on the suitability of apprenticeship to small business environment and he replied “we’ve seen a growth in small and medium size businesses recruiting apprenticeships and believe they play an equal role in the success of the schemes as larger employers do.  The flat structure of small business often gives opportunity for faster development and progression, with the business owner or Director having direct influence over the pace and progression of the scheme, we’d welcome any talks with smaller businesses to help understand whether that’s the right choice and support with structure.

If you’d like any support on exploring whether an apprenticeship opportunity would work well in your company then do get in touch with your local HR Consultant or e-mail us: hello@risehr.co.uk.