Hiring an apprentice is a productive and effective way to grow talent and develop a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce. However, an apprenticeship is not restricted to hiring a new individual – as an organisation; it presents you with the opportunity to identify and upskill existing employees.  

Traditionally apprenticeships were only offered in certain industries and tended to be specific to particular trades such as plumbing and building. However, since substantial government investment and encouragement, apprenticeships are now widely undertaken by various companies globally, with over 1,000 apprenticeship job roles available in over 100 industry sectors, from engineering to accountancy.  

From an individual’s perspective, an apprenticeship offers the opportunity to further their education and acquire new skills whilst gaining on-the-job experience. During the apprenticeship, which can run anywhere from twelve months to five years, the apprentice earns a salary and any benefits permanent employees receive. On completion, the individual will achieve an education equivalent to the apprentice level. Additionally, they could potentially find themselves with a new or permanent role, depending on the organisation, and the nature of the apprenticeship, i.e. current employee or new hire. 

How can an apprenticeship benefit my organisation?  

An apprenticeship provides you with the opportunity to expand and upskill your workforce while adapting the training according to the needs of your business. Aside from growing your workforce, you can use apprenticeship training to fill critical skill gaps in your business, boost employee motivation by investing in their development and improve retention. It also motivates individuals to learn new skills. For example, it could provide an experienced employee with the opportunity to gain a formal qualification in their area of expertise or learn something new, enabling them to progress into a different, more challenging and rewarding role. 

As an employer, an apprenticeship can help you: 

  • Recruit and develop a highly-skilled workforce that meets the needs of your business and supports company growth and development; 
  • Retain and develop existing talent; 
  • Improve the productivity of your people;  
  • Create training options that ensure your employees develop skills that match the needs of your business; 
  • Acquire specialist skills or experience that require a degree to obtain this; 
  • Increase employee retention, both during and following the apprenticeship; 
  • Enhance your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) by demonstrating that you support career development. 

With apprenticeships available from level 2 to level 7 (equivalent to a degree),  you can find apprenticeships that suit both your business needs (in terms of knowledge, skills and behaviour) and, if upskilling an employee, their learning and development needs.   

According to the UK Apprentices website, 86% of employers said apprenticeships helped them develop skills relevant to their organisation, 78% said it helped them improve productivity, and 74% said it helped them improve the quality of their product or service. 

Apprenticeships – tried and tested 

At Tugela People, we have experienced first-hand the positive impact an apprentice can have, not only on the business’s long-term goals but also in building a successful career for an individual employee. In February 2019, we took on our first apprentice, Zoe van Lokven for an 18-month term, working alongside Jamie Wilkins, head of our Managed Services division, providing support for clients running the Sage People system. As an organisation, we were determined to ensure that the apprenticeship was a success, did not involve making cups of tea and filing and that both parties gained positively from the experience. After completing her apprenticeship, Zoe was offered a full-time role as an HRIS Business Analyst and still works for Tugela People as an active and contributing member of the Managed Service team

When asked about her experience, Zoe said, “At the time I decided to take up an apprenticeship, I was working in a retail environment where I had been employed for approximately nine and a half years. I had no specific career path, and my career choices were limited without a university degree. I wanted to move away from what I was doing, do something worthwhile and at the same time, challenge myself. The apprenticeship was a significant change from what I had been doing, moving from a manual position to a business environment, and at first, I found it very overwhelming. However, once engaged in the apprenticeship, I found I was no longer an unsupported member of a large group of employees but rather a supported member of a team who relied on me for my input. I now have a position where I enjoy troubleshooting and finding solutions for clients, which is extremely rewarding”

This post was written by Tugela People. They are an exhibitor on the Consulting & Advisory Partner floor of the HRTech247 Partners Hall here.