According to government statistics total UK apprenticeship participation is 740,000 for 2021/22, forming a sizeable chunk of the UK workforce.
Despite making a significant contribution to the economy, apprenticeships have had a stigma attached to them for many years. Prevailing stereotypes still linger of the badly paid apprenticeship for the under-qualified and inferior to traditional degree-type qualifications.
In recent months, however, a clamour for more cost-effective apprenticeships has caused the percentage of British school leavers choosing degrees to fall for the first time in a decade.
Some top-level degree apprenticeships in high-paying sectors such as engineering are now some of the most coveted courses in the country, with firms such as Rolls Royce and Dyson receiving more applications per place than Oxford or Cambridge.
Clearly, young people are waking up to the benefits: an earn-while-you-learn lifestyle and a more secure career path in contrast to the debt-laden degree and uncertain career prospects.
Taking on apprentices also offers huge business opportunities, from diversifying their services to plugging skills gaps. We review the benefits and offer why you should consider apprenticeship schemes in 2023.
Close the Skills Gap
In November 2022, 13.3% of businesses surveyed by the ONS reported a shortage of workers, while the federation of small businesses found that 80% of small firms faced difficulties recruiting applicants with suitable skills. Apprenticeships can help to fill this void.
Instead of looking for those scarce silver-bullet hires, businesses should also look to recruit and upskill apprentices. 86% of employers, for instance, said that apprenticeships helped them develop skills relevant to their organisation. Unencumbered by bad habits, apprenticeships can bring fresh energy to a business and be moulded to meet your company’s requirements. This is especially true when younger people are so adaptable and technology literate. High-level apprenticeships may incorporate the development of a vast range of skills relating to technology, from architecture to working with structural analysis software.
Apprenticeships Offer Value for Money
One of the apprenticeship’s most widely touted benefits is their considerable cost-saying nature, with organisations being able to make use of government funding. Levy-paying employers can use the funds in their account to pay for apprenticeship training, while non-levy-paying employers can choose to share apprenticeships with the government.
Research shows that government covers 95% of training costs while younger employees are typically more cost-effective in their salary parameters. Return on investment is significant, with some forecasters estimating that the average net benefit for an apprentice during their training period was £2,496.
In addition to this, apprenticeships can also save on recruitment fees. According to Glass Door, the average employer spends around £3000 and 27.5 days hiring a new employee.
Improving Staff Retention
Bright-eyed, high-energy apprentices entering the workplace can ease the burden on your existing workforce. Often they can alleviate the stress of simple, time-consuming tasks. What candidates lack in experience, they may make up for in enthusiasm, assisting with lower-level tasks, increasing capacity and boosting morale.
Apprenticeships may also engender long-term loyalty to your brand, with young people receiving their ‘first break’ in business. Many apprentices may wish to remain within the business after their training, and it is an effective way of nurturing a loyal workforce.
A steady stream of apprentices today could be your thought leaders of tomorrow. The familiar narrative of a former apprentice rising the ranks is a positive PR opportunity.