Apprenticeships are a worthwhile investment that businesses across all sectors should consider, from entry-level to managerial roles and beyond. Offering an array of benefits, from increased employee satisfaction to improved retention rates, apprenticeship programmes are a proven way to help individuals develop their careers while generating results for business.
The benefits of apprenticeships for businesses have been researched extensively over recent years. Most notably, 98% of organisations that currently employ apprentices report experiencing additional benefits to their business, such as navigating the current digital skills gap, which has widened considerably since the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data from GOV.UK, 86% of employers say that apprenticeship programmes enabled them to develop skills relevant to their organisation.
Companies that hire apprentices continue to benefit long after the apprenticeship programme is complete. And as for the apprentices themselves - they go on to become experienced professionals with valuable skills, both hard and soft. It is important to understand the advantages of apprenticeships and the value they can bring to your organisation.
Let’s take a deeper look at the advantages of apprenticeships for employers.
What are the benefits of apprenticeships for businesses?
With a skills shortage in almost every industry, businesses have been forced to re-evaluate how they can acquire relevant skills across all levels.
Apprenticeship programmes in the UK are one way to surmount the ever-growing skills gap. Find out more about what drives the digital skills gap and the opportunities businesses are missing.
Here are some of the reasons why more organisations are implementing apprenticeship programmes.
1. Government incentives for young talent
The UK government offers a £1,000 incentive to businesses for each apprentice hired between the ages of 16 to 18. Employers can also receive the incentive if the apprentice is aged between 19 and 24 and has an education or health and care plan, or has been in the care of their local authority.
Designed to help with the costs of taking on younger, less experienced candidates, the government incentive is a clear benefit for organisations looking to acquire fresh talent. Employers can choose how to invest the cash incentive, whether that’s used as a wage subsidy or it’s invested back into the infrastructure to help support the needs of the apprentice.
Learn more about apprenticeship funding from GOV.UK.
2. Save on recruitment costs
STEM businesses have been hit the hardest by the growing skills shortage. The UK is experiencing a significant shortage in qualified science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) candidates. Findings from STEM Learning indicate that the skills shortage is costing businesses £1.5 billion a year in recruitment, temporary staffing, inflated salaries and additional training costs.
According to a recent study by the Engineering Design Show, more than 50% of engineering firms admit they are finding it difficult to recruit and retain staff with the necessary skills. The UK government has responded to this alarming statistic by investing millions of pounds into STEM education - there has never been a better time to implement STEM apprenticeship programmes.
It’s reported that 89% of STEM businesses find that the recruitment process is also taking far longer, with the entire process taking an average of 31 days longer than expected. And with the STEM sector set to almost double over the next decade, the number of new STEM roles that will require qualified candidates is concerning. Businesses need to invest in a sustainable talent pipeline now, which means encouraging young people to consider careers in STEM.
Businesses must consider offering STEM apprenticeship programmes to navigate the increasing demand and lack of supply. Science apprenticeships in particular are a significant opportunity for companies, with the government expected to increase investment in these areas, encouraging up and coming talent, while also reducing the reliance on temporary staff and inflated recruitment costs.
3. Diversification across teams
Hiring talent through established methods, such as recruitment agencies, can prevent teams from representing wider society. Although there is still work to be done to improve the accessibility of apprenticeships, they can be a powerful tool to diversify the workforce and increase the representation of minority backgrounds.
In fact, 33% of employers advocate that apprenticeships have helped improve diversity within their workforce. Apprentices help to attract a wide range of people, from young talent straight out of school or college, to experienced talent seeking a career change. Bringing new faces into the workforce from a variety of backgrounds brings with it brand new ideas and fresh perspectives, which will only strengthen your business.
4. Increased retention rates and staff satisfaction
It’s a well-known fact that apprentices are far more likely to stay within your business than other employees, regardless of the industry. Apprenticeship programmes encourage young apprentices to consider their job as a career, which is often the reason why they stay committed to the business longer, compared to their colleagues. This ultimately reduces recruitment costs and improves staff retention in the long term.
According to a recent study by the Skills Funding Agency, 80% of employers reported that their retention rates improved as a result of hiring apprentices. While 65% of apprentices stay working for the same company that trained them during their apprenticeship programme. But the question remains, why are apprentices more loyal to their employers?
The opportunity for further development is often the driving force behind loyalty to a business, with many candidates enrolling on apprenticeship programmes because of the structured progression offered. Apprenticeships display clearly defined routes for career progression, from Level 2 entry-level onwards, and their next step in the company is outlined from the beginning.
If your business is bringing in new talent through an entry-level apprenticeship programme, in most cases, it will be the candidate’s first full-time job. Apprenticeships present the perfect opportunity for development and with the right support, these young learners will develop a true sense of loyalty to their team and the company.
5. Improve the quality of talent acquisition
Using a strategic approach to talent acquisition can often reduce the cost of recruitment and help to support business growth. Apprenticeships present opportunities to attract fresh talent. Whether you’re looking for candidates with minimal experience to train or talent with some life experience, apprentices are a worthwhile investment.
It’s a common misconception that apprentices are school or college leavers, aged between 16 and 18, however, this is not the case. Apprenticeships are open to individuals of all ages, which means that your business can hire new talent of any age. Finding a candidate of any age that is wanting to learn and develop in their career is an asset to any employer.
When faced with an opportunity to learn their chosen trade, apprentices often adapt to new and challenging scenarios with excitement and a fresh perspective. The workplace is a very different environment from a school or college classroom, and it is often an environment where apprentices thrive. It is this enthusiasm and positive outlook that is something all companies can benefit from.
6. Alleviate the skills shortage
The skills shortage has hit every industry, but none harder than the digital and STEM sectors. According to Tech Nation, the number one sought after role is Software Developers, which accounts for 9% of all advertised technology jobs. Government research has revealed that over the last two years, 46% of businesses have struggled to recruit for roles that require data skills.
Apprenticeship training is one solution to the digital skills gap, enabling businesses to build their future specialists from the ground up. Tech businesses in particular can strengthen their workforces through software engineering and software development apprenticeships, enabling them to future proof the success of their company.
Investing in ‘homegrown’ talent is fast becoming a sustainable way to navigate the immediate economic fallout of the pandemic and the effects that will be felt for years to come. Nurturing a healthy pipeline of future talent has never been more prevalent, especially with an ageing workforce just around the corner. By 2025, the UK is set to have 300,000 fewer workers under the age of 30, but one million more workers over 50-years-of-age.
7. Introduce industry-leading skills and practices
Introducing apprenticeship programmes to your company can help your business develop industry-leading skills and practices that benefit not only the apprentices but existing employees also. Apprenticeship standards are developed by employers in your sector, which means that the knowledge and skills in these programmes are designed to be the best in your industry
Keep your business up to date with the best practice behaviours in your sector by hiring new apprentices. In time, apprentices will help to upskill existing employees, creating an impenetrable workforce that is able to adapt to changes and developments in the industry.
Why apprenticeships are good for businesses
The long-term growth and success of a business rely on its workforce to continually develop and upskill. Apprenticeship programmes are a worthwhile investment in your team and your business. Nurturing young talent through an apprenticeship develops a sense of loyalty to the company and is far more likely to create an engaged workforce.
60% of businesses are not currently employing apprentices, but they are considering hiring an apprentice now or will consider doing so in the future. Investing in an exciting and innovative apprenticeship programme will ultimately produce a supportive environment for existing employees and apprentices alike.
If your company is a levy payer, then you already have a fund available to develop an apprenticeship programme. And if you don’t pay the apprenticeship levy, your business will only have to fund 5% of the course cost through the government co-investment scheme.
How FDM can help your business
FDM Group is committed to narrowing the digital skills gap and ensuring that a career in technology is accessible to everyone. With a talented pipeline of diverse tech candidates, FDM consultants can help your business grow from strength to strength by introducing fresh talent into your workforce.
Apprenticeships can be extremely valuable to both apprentices and established teams within the business, so it’s important for organisations, trade bodies and the government to encourage young talent to enrol. All FDM consultants are equipped with the knowledge and skills to help place candidates in a thriving professional environment through an apprenticeship programme.
Find out how FDM uncovers the latest talent through an industry-leading apprenticeship programme. For more information on how your business could benefit from an apprenticeship programme, get in touch today.