The problem facing many HR professionals and employers today is balancing budget constraints with the need to continuously develop a highly skilled workforce. With some companies cutting their staff, often skills gaps arise with employers trying to cover two or more jobs at a time.
Introducing an apprenticeship programme may not be the obvious solution to most HR professionals because of the perceived time and costs involved, particularly when working with little or no training budget.
But now is the best time to embrace apprenticeship training as a cost-effective means of filling skills gaps, developing tomorrow’s talent and ensuring that the next generation is well prepared to pick up the skills and experience of your existing workforce.
Over 130,000 companies are already offering apprentice places because of the benefits it brings to their business.
Vocational learning can be tailored to the specific skills needs of your business, ensuring that your investment links directly back to boosting your productivity and profitability and long-term business demands. The mixture of on- and off-job learning ensures that apprentices learn both theory and practical skills that work best for the company while benefiting the business with the latest talent and techniques.
In the current economic climate where companies strive to keep abreast of technological changes or look to new markets and products in order to diversify business and remain competitive, skills are an essential ingredient. But it isn’t just for new hires. Apprenticeships are also a great way to retrain or upskill employees to help expand the abilities of existing employees while building a happier and more fruitful team
The 88% of employers who employ apprentices believe that apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce and a further 80% of those employers who employ apprentices agree they make their workplace more productive.
An apprenticeship offers many rewards to an individual from qualifications and experience to a sense of self-belief and increased confidence in their own abilities. It also gives them a chance to achieve their potential and enhance their career prospects.
An employer will also gain from all of the above benefits, plus a whole host more – qualified employees who are highly skilled and competent at their job and who are trained to the most recent industry standard. There’s also the potential benefit of Government funding.
Apprenticeship funding is available but the size of the contribution varies depending on your sector and the age of the candidate. If the apprentice is aged 16-18 years old, you will receive 100% of the notional cost of the training; if they are 19-24 years old, you will receive up to 50%; if they are 25 years old or over you may only get a contribution depending on the sector and area in which you operate.
We are in a fast-paced world and we need people with transferable, marketable skills, and that doesn’t mean sitting in a class all day to get them. With an apprenticeship, an organisation can ensure it has people trained in the skills that are relevant to their business and industry. If the question is ‘can business afford apprenticeships?’ the answer surely is: ‘Can business not afford to prepare its workforce for tomorrows challenges?’
Terry Watts is CEO of Proskills, the sector skills council for the process and manufacturing sector
This article was first published on hrmagazine.co.uk