Training young talent: understanding the benefits of apprenticeships for your business (Guest Post)

In this guest post, Mike Thompson, Head of Employability and Early Careers Programmes at Barclays, looks at what apprentices can bring to businesses and how to best go about implementing apprenticeship programmes.

Apprentices have a great deal to offer a business of any size. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills found that 72% of employers experienced improved productivity after hiring an apprentice. Additionally, CEBR research found that hiring an apprentice could equate to an increase in business productivity of £214 per week leading to increased profits, lower prices, better products and higher wages. Barclays’ own apprentices – selected based on their mind-set and attitude rather than academic results or experience – have proved to be motivated and talented and have given us a new insight into both our industry and our customers. Hiring an apprentice can seem like a big investment, but it can prove to be a hugely rewarding one and there are a few simple things that can make the hiring process much easier.

Shout about it

Once you have made the decision to hire an apprentice, it’s important to find the right one. There are a number of ways you can advertise. But, depending on your industry, it might be easier to form links with local schools or colleges that can help you find young people looking to join your sector. There are also plenty of free services that will advertise your apprenticeship vacancy, such as the National Apprenticeship Service. It also provides an online matchmaking service.

Rip away the red tape

Our research into employability with SMEs last year revealed that one in ten think red tape was the main reason they were unable to hire an apprentice. But there are services that can help make it much simpler. LifeSkills created with Barclays makes the process of setting up apprenticeships smoother by providing counsel and support. The programme can help you apply for funding available from the Government and assist with the relevant health and safety and insurance issues. They will even put you in contact with a trusted training provider to support the young person and business during the process, meaning you have one less thing to worry about.

Choose the right training provider

Training providers are paramount to offering apprenticeships, so it’s worth considering early on in the process. It’s extremely important to pick the right one as they offer help with both recruitment and training for your apprentices. Providers can either be local colleges or private training companies, both of which will deliver a blend of classroom and work-based training. The National Apprenticeship Service can find suitable providers and advise on selection criteria to ensure they are the correct match for your business. As part of this process you’ll need to consider how much time away from your business you can afford for training.

Sort your finances

Hiring an apprentice is an investment in both time and money, but there is support, depending on the size of business and the contribution to the young person’s learning. If your company has up to 1,000 employees and wants to take on an apprentice aged 16-24, you are eligible for a £1,500 grant, which equates to 191 hours’ worth of pay at the UK national living wage. Partnering with a training agency also means your apprentice is provided with all the training they need to complete the apprenticeship without the need for you to carry the cost of it.

A dedicated programme for when it begins

Ensuring your apprentice can learn and contribute to your business is vital. Therefore you must consider carefully what their role will be and how you will ensure they have the support to do it. This is even more important for entry-level candidates who don’t have much previous work experience as they could lack some basic but vital skills. Work with your HR managers and other entry level employees to explore the tasks your apprentice will be doing. This helps ensure your company is offering quality experience and you are getting what you need. Save your apprentice from being too scared to ask for help and make sure you have a buddy ready when they want to talk to someone at their level.

Help them progress

Hiring an apprentice isn’t the end. At Barclays, our focus is on the long-term for both the apprentice and our business. If a candidate passes their apprenticeship, they are offered a permanent role within the business. We want to ensure they have a career with us, not just a job. This is important for the business too; after all you’ve invested time and money in that young person and so it makes sense to nurture them and encourage them to stay with you.

Apprenticeships can and should be a source of recruitment for most, if not all businesses, in the UK. They offer rewards not just in productivity, but also in fresh ideas, enthusiasm and innovation.

To find out more about Barclays’ Apprenticeships scheme, go to or call 01928 703974