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What are the benefits to my business of setting up an apprenticeship scheme?

What are the benefits to my business of setting up an apprenticeship scheme?

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If yours is a business that wants to expand, has optimism for the future but perhaps is shackled by the current economic environment, than the last thing you want to do is take on an apprentice, right? Wrong. It’s precisely to overcome this bottle neck in new talent, that the government is pushing AGE (Apprentice Grant for Employers) a new funding initiative, to encourage small to medium sized companies fewer than 250 people to recruit their first young apprentices.

So, how does it work, and is it a good thing for your business? Currently, the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) is offering up to 40,000 Apprenticeship Grants to small and medium sized businesses that recruit their first apprentice aged 16 to 24 years old.

Naturally, the government is very keen to get people working in difficult market conditions and although something like 270,000 16-24-year-olds started an apprenticeship last year, they want to boost this figure.

The AGE initiative is directly targeted at small to medium sized employers who are interested in employing a young apprentice but are not in a position to do so due to current financial constraints or lack of opportunity. To encourage new businesses, the scheme is only available for employers who have not taken on an apprentice in the last three years.

Needless to say, taking on an Apprenticeship has many advantages; you get an additional employee who can be trained and guided towards a skilled or managerial role for the future and your company will also be doing its bit for the community. It also has the potential to kick start a longer term programme that your company is considering, but were holding off until the economic outlook changes.

AGE works by providing up to 40,000 Apprenticeship grants of up to £1,500 for small to medium sized businesses who recruit a 16 to 24 year old apprentice.  Even better, the £1,500 is in addition to the training costs of the Apprenticeship framework which are met in full for young people aged 16 to 18 and 50% for those aged 19 to 24.

As with any recruitment process, what you're willing to pay will affect the calibre of your new staff. But as Apprenticeships are up to 75% more cost-effective than recruiting more experienced or graduate staff, you are likely to see a positive return on your investment.  To make the scheme viable, however, Apprenticeships will have to last for a minimum of 12 months and guarantee progress in training and workplace learning.

Generally, it is expected that most employers will want to access AGE in order to support the recruitment of apprentices. However, subject to budget availability and your commitment to support the apprentice to the end of their programme, you could benefit from up to 3 grants, providing you commit to the total number of apprentices you wish to take on through the grant at the upfront agreement stage.

It’s a great way to kick start youth employment and benefit the industry, so why not consider the advantages an Apprenticeship can bring to your business?