With National Apprenticeship Week bringing increased awareness to apprenticeships across the UK, a host of employers will be considering new training opportunities in their own organisation.
This is great news for all involved, as the benefits of hiring an apprentice are well known now. That said, there are still some clear steps to success. These are some of the lessons we’ve learned from over a decade in apprenticeship management…
Know Your Role
It sounds obvious, but the first thing to think about is the role that you want the apprentice to take on. Whether you’re a large or small employer, think about the nature of what you’re asking them to do. The most important question to answer before even starting the hiring process is simple: is the role suitable for an apprentice?
Typically, you’re asking for someone to go from a low level of knowledge to a high level of competence. Can your organisation support an apprentice in that role? Do you have the infrastructure? Do you have a specific project in mind that you want the individual to start working on?
Think about the support that’s already there and any support that the individual may need. This is particularly important for small employers who might be recruiting an apprentice into a standalone role with no obvious mentors.
Setting the Standard
Once you have a defined job role in mind, it’s relatively easy to look at the descriptions of available apprenticeship standards and decide on the best fit.
The easiest way to do this is by comparing the two. Have the standard open on one page and the job role on another and do a point-by-point comparison. Unless you design your role to fit a specific standard you’re unlikely to find a complete overlap, in which case a match of 75% becomes a good target to aim for.
This is where having an open relationship with your training provider pays dividends. They can tell you what the training for each course will entail and help you to craft a job description that reflects both the role and the training.
Recruiting for the Future
A lot of the positives of hiring an apprentice begin with the way you go about recruitment. While you can make some requirements of your learner, such as numeracy, literacy and ICT skills, you may want to include this with their training. What you should be looking for is the right attitude of the individual. If they display a willingness to learn and grow within the company, then they’re likely to embrace the opportunity.
The motivation to learn is one of the best attributes an apprentice brings to your business. It’s not only the formal learning that’s important; it’s also about their approach to off-the-job learning. Ideally, you want someone who will take the time to talk to others and learn about the company. They won’t come with any preconceived ideas of what you should be doing, and with the right support they can bring a valuable fresh perspective.
In any case, a good apprentice will give you commitment, loyalty and willingness to learn; ideal qualities for any employee.
Hiring an apprentice is like embarking on anything new. Individuals will surprise you, for both positive and negative reasons. Yet if you’re willing to adapt – if you’re willing to provide support and development opportunities – your apprentice training stands a good chance of being a success.
That said, hiring an apprentice can still be daunting due to the complexity of the process. With the introduction of the Levy a few years ago to the ongoing move from frameworks to standards, it’s easy to see why.
Don’t let the evolving landscape put you off. Whether you’re working with a high-quality training provider or running your own internal training, the approach to taking on an apprentice is mostly common sense. The main point to remember is that supporting and training your apprentice shouldn’t be that different to how you treat the rest of your team.
And as before, if you’re working with a quality training provider you should have all the help that you need to be sure that you’re doing it right.