Hiring apprentices can be a significant challenge for businesses across various industries. Finding candidates who are not only enthusiastic about learning a trade but also possess the necessary aptitude and work ethic can be a daunting task. Moreover, apprenticeship programmes often require a considerable investment of time and resources from businesses, making it crucial to select candidates who are committed to long-term growth within the company. Not to mention, there can also be steep competition for the top talent among employers, further intensifying the difficulty of securing skilled apprentices!
We’ve compiled the ultimate guide for businesses on how to recruit an apprentice, covering everything from the benefits of hiring apprentices, the considerations you need to make, and the best ways to find an apprentice. Let’s get started….
What’s in this guide?
- What is an apprenticeship?
- Benefits of apprenticeships for employers
- How to hire an apprentice in the UK
- How much does it cost to hire an apprentice?
- How many hours can an apprentice work?
- Can apprenticeship training be funded by the Apprenticeship Levy?
- Where can you find apprentices?
- Hiring an apprentice with FDM
What is an apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship involves training a new generation of practitioners of a trade or profession with on-the-job training and accompanying study. It involves a balanced combination of practical experiences in a working environment and theoretical education in a school or training institution, under the guidance of a skilled professional.
Find out more about who can do an apprenticeship.
Benefits of apprenticeships for employers
So, why recruit an apprentice? Apprenticeships offer several fantastic benefits for employers. Firstly, they provide a reliable pipeline of skilled and knowledgeable talent, customised to meet the specific needs of the organisation. This can reduce recruitment costs and the time spent searching for qualified employees. Apprenticeships also allow companies to nurture a loyal and dedicated workforce, as apprentices often become long-term employees who are deeply invested in the company's success. Furthermore, apprenticeships contribute to a culture of continuous learning and improvement within the organisation, fostering innovation and adaptability.
Read more about the benefits of hiring apprentices for businesses.
How to hire an apprentice in the UK
When hiring an apprentice, there are several important considerations to ensure a successful apprenticeship programme and a positive experience for both the employer and the apprentice. So, what do you need to consider when hiring an apprentice?
- Define your needs
- Programme structure
- Compliance and regulations
- Recruitment and selection
- Training plan
- Mentorship and supervision
- Compensation and benefits
- Integration into the workforce
- Evaluation and feedback
- Certification and graduation
- Career pathways
- Continuous improvement
- Legal documentation
- Diversity and inclusion
1. Define your needs
The first step is to clearly identify the skills and roles for which you need apprentices. What specific tasks or projects will they work on? What are your training goals for the candidate?
2. Programme structure
You then will need to develop a structured apprenticeship programme within your organisation that includes a curriculum, training schedule, and learning objectives. It is also important that you designate experienced mentors or trainers who will oversee the apprentices and guide their learning journey.
3. Compliance and regulations
It is imperative that you familiarise yourself with your local regulations regarding apprenticeship programmes, including factors such as salary requirements and safety standards. See the government’s apprentice advice for more information.
4. Recruitment and selection
Create a clear job description for the apprenticeship position, outlining qualifications, responsibilities, and expectations. Develop a recruitment strategy to attract candidates who are a good fit for your organisation and the apprenticeship programme, such as considering a recruitment agency or reaching out to candidates on LinkedIn.
5. Training plan
Outline a comprehensive training plan that combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction or coursework, if applicable. Consider rotational experiences in different departments to provide a well-rounded education. This gives apprentices a chance to not only learn about all aspects of a role, but find which department suits them best, enabling them to better apply their skills and get the most out of their placement.
6. Mentorship and supervision
Appoint experienced employees as mentors or supervisors who can provide guidance, monitor progress, and offer constructive feedback. We recommend choosing employees who are passionate about sharing their knowledge and are keen to have someone shadow them at work. This way, you know your apprentices will have the best possible experience, learn lots of new skills, and bring the most value to your company.
7. Compensation and benefits
Determine an appropriate wage for apprentices, considering local labour laws and industry standards.
Offer benefits, such as healthcare, paid time off, and opportunities for advancement or bonuses based on performance. The national minimum wage for an apprentice is £5.28 per hour (September 2023). After a year as an apprentice, they are then entitled to the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage rate for their age.
8. Integration into the workforce
Foster a welcoming and inclusive workplace culture that ensures apprentices feel like valued members of the team. Encourage interaction between apprentices and other employees to facilitate knowledge transfer and networking. Here are five ways you can instantly make your business more inclusive.
9. Evaluation and feedback
Establish a system for regular performance evaluations and feedback sessions to track the progress of apprentices. Provide opportunities for apprentices to share their thoughts and concerns. Remember that feedback is crucial for apprentices as they are learning the profession from scratch so may require more frequent or thorough evaluation sessions than your other employees!
10. Certification and graduation
Determine the criteria for successful completion of the apprenticeship programme, which may include obtaining specific certifications or demonstrating proficiency in certain skills. This should be clearly communicated to the apprentice from the very beginning so that they know what they are working towards.
11. Career pathways
Discuss potential career pathways with apprentices, including the possibility of full-time employment upon programme completion. Hiring apprentices is a great way to onboard team members that are already immersed in your business and have been moulded to have the skills and knowledge required for the role.
12. Continuous improvement
We recommend that you continuously assess and refine your apprenticeship programme based on feedback from mentors, apprentices, and evolving industry needs. The job market is always changing, and so are candidate expectations. Make sure you’re up-to-date and aware of emerging trends. For example, Gen Z is having a major impact on employment expectations and employers are expected to adapt accordingly.
13. Legal documentation
It may be a given but having the appropriate legal documentation, including apprenticeship agreements, employment contracts, and any required government forms is must! See the apprenticeship agreement template provided by gov.uk.
14. Diversity and inclusion
Diversity and inclusion should be at the forefront of any type of recruitment for your business. Promoting diversity and inclusion within your apprenticeship scheme can help you attract a wider pool of talent and create an overall more inclusive workplace. Read our top tips to improve diversity in recruitment.
How much does it cost to hire an apprentice?
The cost of hiring an apprentice can vary significantly based on various factors. Here are some of the cost considerations when hiring an apprentice:
- Apprentice wage
- Training costs
- Administrative costs
- Educational costs
- Safety and equipment costs (based on the role)
- Mentorship and supervision
- Additional benefits, such as health insurance and pension contributions
How many hours can an apprentice work?
When hiring an apprentice, it’s imperative that you adhere to regulations on working hours and contract duration. An apprenticeship must last at least one year, but can last up to five years depending on the level. As an employer, it is also your responsibility to ensure that apprentices have time off during their working week for apprenticeship training. In total, an apprentice typically works for 30 hours a week.
Can apprenticeship training be funded by the Apprenticeship Levy?
In the United Kingdom, the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced to fund apprenticeship training. Here's how a breakdown of how it generally works in the UK:
1. Employer Eligibility
The Apprenticeship Levy applies to employers with a payroll of over £3 million per year. These employers are required to contribute a percentage of their payroll costs (0.5%) into the Apprenticeship Levy.
2. Funding for Apprenticeships
Employers who pay into the Apprenticeship Levy can use those funds to cover the cost of apprenticeship training within their organisation. These funds are deposited into an online account called the Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS). However, the apprenticeship training must be an approved training course. Check out the list of approved courses here.
3. Spending the Levy
Employers can access their funds in the DAS to pay for apprenticeship training for their employees. They can choose approved training providers and negotiate the cost of training.
4. Non-Levy Employers
Employers with a payroll below £3 million per year are not required to pay the Apprenticeship Levy. However, they can still receive government support to cover a significant portion of the apprenticeship training costs. They share a small co-investment percentage (usually 5%) with the government to fund the training.
5. Transfer of Levy Funds
Levy-paying employers can also transfer up to 25% of their annual Levy funds to other employers, such as their supply chain partners, to support their apprenticeship programmes.
Where can you find apprentices?
1. Open days
You can connect with potential apprentices by hosting open days at your company where interested individuals can learn about your apprenticeship programme and explore your workplace first-hand.
2. School visits
Visit local secondary schools and colleges to present your apprenticeship opportunities and engage with students who may be interested in joining your programme.
3. Social media
Utilise platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to promote your apprenticeship programme, share success stories, and connect with candidates actively seeking career opportunities.
4. Careers events
Participate in job fairs, career expos, and industry-specific events to showcase your apprenticeship offerings and network with prospective candidates.
5. Talent solutions partners
Collaborate with talent acquisition agencies, workforce development organisations, and apprenticeship intermediaries to tap into their candidate pools and expertise in connecting employers with potential apprentices.
Hiring an apprentice with FDM
The FDM Apprenticeship Programme is designed to nurture the very best talent to provide value to our clients. We prioritise the development and success of our apprentices through a comprehensive approach. We understand the importance of education, which is why we dedicate a minimum of 20% of our apprentices' time to their course studies. Additionally, we firmly believe in removing financial barriers, which is why we not only provide a monthly salary but also cover university fees for our apprentices. Our commitment to inclusivity ensures that we create equal opportunities for students from all backgrounds, fostering a diverse and dynamic learning environment.
Furthermore, our commitment to apprenticeship success goes beyond the classroom. We actively demonstrate that our apprentices acquire the essential job readiness skills necessary to excel in their chosen field and seamlessly transition into the workplace. Each apprentice is paired with a dedicated mentor who offers guidance and support throughout their entire journey with FDM, both in their apprenticeship and during their university studies. This holistic approach to apprenticeship ensures that our students receive the comprehensive support they need to thrive in their educational and professional pursuits. This also takes away the leg work for your organisation, enabling you to focus on helping apprentices with the work at hand and leave all the additional training and support with us.