Are you new to apprenticeship management?
You may have heard all about the benefits of hiring a fresh-faced learner and training them in the ways of your business – and you may have thought that it could work for you. But where exactly do you start?
We know the questions that employers have about training apprentices – and we know a fair few of the answers too. This guide will tell you all you need to know about the right way to hire an apprentice…
Hiring the Best Apprentice for Your Business
Every business is different and faces its own unique challenges, and so we would never prescribe a one-size fits all approach.
That said, there are still some clear steps to success.
These are lessons we’ve learned from over a decade in apprenticeships that could help you to hire the right learner from the start.
It may sound obvious but this is vital to consider, especially if you’re hiring your first apprentice.
- What is the role that you want them to take on?
- What will be their day-to-day activities?
- Is there enough work to keep them occupied all day?
- Does it present a suitable development opportunity?
The nature of the role will vary, but as a rule of thumb you are aiming to guide them from relative inexperience to a position of competence. It’s your responsibility to ensure that their role will allow this.
Once you’ve defined the role, take some time to consider how it will work in practice.
- Can your organisation support this role?
- Will the apprentice have someone they can learn from?
- Do you have the structure to support their learning needs?
Given their relative inexperience an apprentice may need more nurturing than a senior employee. This may be frustrating to begin with, but if you can balance this with a push towards independence you can transform your apprentice’s value.
Whether you’re a large or a small employer you need to consider the nature of the work that you’re asking them to do.
- Is this role suitable for an apprentice?
- Does it match an apprenticeship Framework or Standard?
Your training provider (see below) will be able to help you answer these questions.
Once you’ve defined the role you will be better prepared for integrating the apprentice into your business. You’ll also be much better placed to hire the right person.
Hiring the right apprentice is the most important decision you have to make. The training provider you work with is your next most important call – and this is often the decision that you’ll need to make first.
A training provider is the organisation that delivers your apprentice’s formal learning. This could be an institute such as a college or university or a private business dedicated to apprenticeships.
A business will often liaise with a training provider first. Some employers find that discussing the vacancy helps to determine which apprenticeship subject will be the best fit.
However, you can decide this for yourself. You may have a clear idea of the apprenticeship that’s right for your business and select a training provider on their ability to deliver this.
There are many considerations when it comes to training providers, but the key factors are:
- The Standards and/or Frameworks they can deliver
- Their OFSTED rating
- The service and support they provide
If you’re looking for a training provider you can make use of our Training Provider Finder. This tool lists a selection of the UK’s best training providers, allowing you to search by location and subject.
Frameworks and Standards are the subject of the apprenticeship. There are hundreds of subjects available at different grades, each with a varying level of specificity.
As you might imagine it’s a lot easier to align a role with an apprenticeship once you have a clear idea of what that role is. At this point it’s a case of looking at the available apprenticeships and deciding on the best fit.
The easiest way to do this is in a point-by-point comparison. Unless you design the role to fit a specific apprenticeship you are unlikely to get a complete overlap, which is OK. It provides room for your learner to bring skills to your organisation that you may not have anticipated. As a rule of thumb anywhere around a 75% match is a good mark to aim for.
This is where a communicative relationship with your training provider pays dividends. A good training provider will be able to outline the programme for each course and help you craft an accurate job description.
Frameworks and Standards are different means to the same end.
Think of Frameworks as a curriculum for an apprenticeship subject. They have been written, developed and updated with employer feedback by Skills Sector Bodies (such as Instructus). Frameworks have been phased out in favour of Standards in England, but they are still used in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In England, Frameworks have been replaced by Standards. These have been developed by a range of employer groups, known as Trailblazers and the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education (IfATE). Standards use End Point Assessment to determine the apprentice’s final grade.
At this point it’s worth noting that Instructus Skills are an ESFA-approved End Point Assessment Organisation. If you have any questions about that process use the link below to find out more.
A positive apprenticeship experience begins with the recruitment process. The advice above should aid you in identifying the right skill set for your business and help you to find the right person for the role.
That said, there are still other considerations.
Some employers make certain skills, such as numeracy, literacy and ICT, a core requirement. Others are happy to provide training in these areas.
Regardless of their initial skill set, a good apprentice will show the right attitude for the task at hand. They won’t bring preconceived ideas of what you should be doing, and with support they can bring a valuable perspective.
If they display a willingness to learn then they’re likely to embrace the opportunity you’re providing.
Knowing the Unknowns
Hiring an apprentice may be a new process for you but with due consideration you can make the most of it.
If you can provide genuine support – and if you’re willing to adapt – then your apprenticeship training stands a good chance of being a success.