For many business in the UK & Manchester, apprenticeships are a popular route into employment for school leavers. They offer them the chance to learn on the job – receiving top quality training together with real life experience.
But what’s in it for employers? Why should you take on an unproven school leaver when you could hire someone with a year’s experience under their belt?
There are actually a lot of good reasons to offer apprenticeships, from costs to loyalty. Apprentices are usually highly engaged in their learning, which is typically part provided by a training agency such as, Cheshire based, Training Byte Size, see their apprenticeship course page.
It boosts your existing team
Whilst there is a lot to be said for good old-fashioned experience you also have to admit that, as best practice moves on, your employees may be getting a little bit behind the times. Bringing an apprentice or two into the mix allows them to disseminate new ideas and methods – some of which your team may find inspiring and useful.
Having an apprentice can also allow members of your team the chance to work on the areas that they are proficient in or prefer doing. Tasks that the apprentice is capable of doing can be passed onto them ensuring that the apprentice gains useful experience whilst meaningfully contributing to the team as a whole.
Plug a skills gap precisely
Once you’ve identified that there is a hole in your team there are several approaches you can take to fix it. You can send members of your team for extra training. You can hire someone with the required skills. Or you could take on an apprentice and ensure that they receive training in the skills you need.
It means you don’t have to take some of your existing team out of projects in order for them to be trained in the areas you need to be strengthened. You may find your team doesn’t want extra training and unwilling trainees are not going to learn as quickly or as well as willing ones.
Hiring someone for their skill set means you have to take the whole bundle. And it may be a bundle that doesn’t fit naturally into the teams you already have.
An apprentice offers you a “blank slate”. Of course they will no doubt develop their own professional interests, but it gives you the possibility to tailor their skills to fit the hole in your team precisely.
Cheaper recruitment cycle
You will work as part of a trailblazer group which means costs can be shared across the whole group. For example, instead of running individual recruitment cycles, with duplicated effort and quite possibly duplicated applicants, you could run one for the whole group.
An apprenticeship also lasts for a defined period of time. Project manager apprenticeships typically last from 18 months – 2 years. Knowing when your apprentice is going to stop being an apprentice allows you to plan for the future and budget accordingly.
And you keep staff costs down
According to government sources, hiring apprentices increases productivity by as much as 76%. Three-quarters of employers who already run apprenticeship programmes would agree that the quality of their service (or product) has improved since joining the scheme.
Employees like to feel involved in training the next generation of project managers. Being part of an apprenticeship programme can improve staff morale and reduce staff turnover. Having spent a large proportion of their time learning from your company many apprentices show loyalty and are themselves less inclined to look elsewhere.
And of course apprentices are simply paid less than a fully qualified project manager. NI contributions are not payable for apprentices (unless you happen to be paying them enough to be in the higher tax bracket!) and there are “golden handshakes” available when you take on a school leaver.
What should you be looking at next?
If you are serious about the future of project management then you should be serious about taking on an apprentice. Apprenticeships are not about finding someone to make the tea. You need to have a genuine job available to the apprentice and be sure that the job will be available for the duration of their training. You will need to pay them a fair wage based on their duties and age and you will need to factor in the amount of time they require for classroom training and assessment.
You will work with a training provider who will liaise with you on supporting and mentoring your apprentice. You will need to ensure that they have the opportunity to use their newly acquired knowledge and skills so that they grow into a fully-fledged project manager by the end of their apprenticeship time.