April 6 – it’s Levy time

This week marks a momentous moment, with the launch of the Apprenticeship Levy. And while some confusion remains over what it will involve and who will pay it, there’s no doubt that the Levy is a game changer.

Amid all the chatter, to cut through the confusion, Ben Rowland, co-founder of Arch Apprentices has laid out five key reasons why businesses should be grabbing the opportunity presented by the levy with both hands.

1) It’s been proven over and over again that more diverse businesses are more successful. Having young people, from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, will add another dimension to the workplace and help tackle group-think – a long-term problem in the City.

2) Sometimes a new hire comes with challenging baggage; they’ve picked up several bad habits in previous roles and they’re not gelling with the rest of your organisation as well as they need to be. An apprentice is a blank canvas who can be moulded and trained in a way which will work best for their progression and the business.

3) While you’re dreading your daily commute, young people are bouncing out of bed and into the office, excited to prove themselves at their first real job. They’re eager to impress and take on challenges which often means they’ll get more done.

4) Young people’s love and genuine aptitude for using different online platforms can be turned to the business’ marketing endeavours. They’re also going to easily pick up the digital skills which the business needs to retain its competitive edge.

5) Everyone has to start somewhere and at the very start of their career, while they’re learning the skills of their trade, it’s highly likely that you’re going to see a good return on investment.


Simple steps to success

But how should businesses approach this in practical terms? While the beneficial outcomes are becoming clearer all the time, there remains confusion over how companies should go about recruiting apprentices.

Here are some simple steps to get started:

Be realistic.

Apprenticeships offer a fantastic way of delivering training, but be realistic: don’t expect them to be work-ready from the beginning. A lot of apprentices are going to be incredibly raw, and given that they may often be young people who have decided against the traditional academic route they may need patience as they begin their journey

Find the right training provider.

Visiting the government’s website to find a list of approved training providers is a great place to start. If you consider that an apprenticeship is effectively a partnership between the employer and a training provider that gives classroom-based education it shows how important finding the right partner is. Some TPs specialise in certain areas so you can pick a partner with the right focus.

Look for the best candidates.

This isn’t rocket science – the recruitment and selection process is broadly similar to any other hire. But with that said, apprentices may need slightly different handling – many won’t have had a job before so think about making sure they understand what is involved before the interview and what they may be asked.

Focus on the training

Employers are not obliged to pay apprentices as much as other workers in the first year. However, whatever short term saving that might bring, the real benefit is in the long term – but it requires work. As one employer says, ‘You’ve got to have a process in place that can take someone who’s very raw and mould them into somebody who is ultimately aligned not just to your business, but for the marketplace. At the end of that year do expect to be paying market rates for that individual. If not, you haven’t done your job.’