Apprenticeships... an opportunity for all
9 February 2023
Do you already run an apprentice scheme? Or are you considering whether it's the right thing for your business? Read on to discover how nurturing apprentices creates opportunities for your business and how to give and get the most so everyone thrives.
Apprenticeships have been part of the UK since Medieval times, and back then, they tended to start from the age of 17 and lasted for seven years. Today, the workplace (thankfully) looks very different.
Statistics from 2019 to 2020 show that 47% of the apprenticeships started were by people aged 25 and over. During this period, the number of 17-year-olds starting an apprenticeship was 26% less than the figures from 2018/2019.
The Apprenticeship Levy
Are you familiar with the Apprenticeship Levy?
The Apprenticeship Levy began in 2017 and impacts organisations with an annual pay bill of over £3 million. Once you hit this threshold, you must pay a levy of 0.5% of the annual pay bill. For clarity, the pay bill covers wages paid to all employees, including apprentices under 25.
In monetary terms, if your annual pay bill is £3 million, you’ll have to pay an Apprenticeship Levy of £15,000. However, this fee can be reinvested into the business if used to fund apprenticeships.
Why take on apprentices?
An apprenticeship is a mutually beneficial relationship that goes far beyond ‘cheap labour’ - a concern reported by the media as recently as 2017.
Apprenticeships are open to anyone over 16 who is eligible to work in the UK and no longer in full-time education. As far as pay goes, between the ages of 16 and 19, apprentices are entitled to the Apprenticeship National Minimum Wage, which is reviewed annually. However, once they reach 19 and have completed the first year of their apprenticeship, they become entitled to the National Minimum Wage.
Whilst apprentices fall into the lower wage group, there is much more to their experience than being a 'low-cost' employee, with both parties committing to a long-term training journey.
The business benefits
When you take on an apprentice, either utilising the funds you’ve contributed to the Levy or via Government funding, you are doing much more than taking on a new and inexperienced employee.
You’re employing someone who's taking charge of their learning journey, and by doing so, are displaying desirable characteristics, such as:
Desire to grow with the business.
Training is performed on the job and in the classroom and is tailored to the industry or role. This means you’re investing in an individual who plans to stay in the sector or position instead of skilling them up before moving elsewhere.
Employers can show their apprentices that they’re committed to their development beyond awarding them their qualifications, planting the seeds of a positive future with the business. Better still, your apprentice’s training plan can be aligned with your changing business needs, future-proofing the relationship.
According to the CIPD, 70% of employers claimed that their goods and services improved, and 66% experienced enhanced employee morale due to hiring apprentices. An increase in morale and motivation leads to higher levels of employee engagement, which boosts productivity and profitability.
Additionally, bringing apprentices into your organisation allows you to create development opportunities for other employees, involving them with training and management.
Getting started & funding apprenticeships
If you’re considering taking on apprentices within your business, the Government website is the best place to start, as multiple policy documents are available to help you get started. There’s also information on the funding and support available.
Whilst organisations that have the Levy imposed on their pay bill generate funds to put towards apprenticeships, SMEs can also source funding via the Government.
Support apprentices with the rising cost of living
An apprentice is an employee with the same rights as anyone else you may hire, and while an employer can pay more than the statutory minimum, there is no obligation to do so.
The cost of living is rising, and whilst apprentices are generally younger and may not yet be living independently, they could still be contributing to rising household bills or need to fuel their car to get to work.
Supporting their financial wellbeing is just as important as any other employee's.
Recognise & reward
Your apprentices are on a learning journey, and whilst it takes a few years to achieve their qualification, they’ll hit key milestones along the way. Embed their journey into your Reward and Recognition Strategy, gifting them an eVoucher or Gift Card that they can use with their favourite brands, online and in-store.
With less disposable income to use on morale-boosting treats, a £50 voucher cheque can make a significant impact. In addition to providing financial rewards and support, you’re showing them that you’re the sort of employer that celebrates and appreciates its people’s talents.
Even those on higher salaries have to make tough decisions and take steps to manage their finances. With apprentices generally being younger and potentially living at home, they may have little experience with budgeting.
By providing them with education and financial wellbeing apps, you can help them to manage their money during the cost-of-living crisis and beyond.
Once you’ve provided them with financial education, help apprentices become savvy shoppers and give them the means to support their household by making meaningful savings on everyday essentials. With our employee cashback card in their wallet or on their phone, apprentices and employees can earn up to 15% cashback at a vast range of participating retailers.
What better way to provide meaningful support than to help them earn money whilst they spend?
Partner with Pluxee UK to help your apprentices & business thrive!
Ready to bring an apprentice or two into the fold?
Make the experience rewarding for the apprentice and the business. Treat them as one of the team by showing commitment to their goals. Get it right, and you’ll be on your way to creating and retaining a loyal employee.
Pluxee UK has been supporting employers for over 60 years, and we continue to make it our mission to help you help your people succeed. Contact an employee wellbeing expert today for more information.