Debunking some common myths
The Apprenticeship Levy has been with us for several years now. Whilst training providers and Employers have had significant challenges to face in the sweeping and fundamental changes to the way Apprenticeships are both funded and structured, we believe there is much to be positive about in the world of Apprenticeships.
As such we wanted to address some of the myths around Apprenticeships, particularly following National Apprenticeship Week.
What is an Apprenticeship? It is a way to train and support individuals to become proficient in a particular career whilst they gain real hands-on experience in that job role, all whilst earning a suitable and fair wage.
Myth 1: Apprenticeships are just a way of exploiting young people for cheap labour
SR response: Firstly, we have experienced a wide range of ages taking up apprenticeships, from school leavers to experienced employees. We offer a free recruitment service so have first-hand experience of the very competitive salaries offered to new starts. For Apprentices that are existing staff their salaries do not reduce because they are an Apprentice. In fact in most cases salaries increase due to their continued career development through training and qualifications they achieve in their Apprenticeship.
Myth 2: Ok, but where Apprenticeships are being used to recruit young people, the pay is low and the job roles are low-skilled
SR response: Whilst there are instances where Employers are paying the minimum apprentice wage (£4.15 an hour), in our experience it is a competitive market out there in terms of young talented school leavers who are much more switched on to the wealth of new opportunities out there. We encourage our Employers to pay a fair and competitive wage to attract Apprentices who will genuinely be entering into a long-term career with the company.
Apprenticeships are a perfect method of matching up intelligent, enthusiastic yet inexperienced applicants with companies that need entry level roles filling. The whole point of an entry level Apprenticeship is that it takes an individual who is new to the industry, introduces them to the grass roots delivery of the company’s service and provides structured training and onward progression for the individual to develop a long-term career in the organisation.
Myth 3: Apprenticeships do not provide real training
SR response: An Apprenticeship scheme is designed to address specific training needs and practical skills that are both relevant to the Employer and transferrable throughout the Apprentice’s career.
SR Apprenticeships conduct a full documented analysis of each client’s specific Apprenticeship requirement, this explores the company’s nature of business, vision, strengths, areas of improvement/training gaps and explores how these can be effectively supported through Apprenticeship training.
Myth 4: The 20% off the job stipulation makes it virtually impossible to support staff members through Apprenticeships without significant impact on the business
SR response: Again, if properly planned, the fact that the Apprenticeship is upskilling the individual in a particular job role should mean that a great deal of the 20% off the job learning can be factored in to new job tasks that still contribute to the running of your business.
SR Apprenticeships maps out the off the job element at the Apprentice’s initial induction session, this is then monitored and updated monthly to ensure the Apprentice is not slipping behind. If a programme has been specifically designed with the Employer and the particular individual job role in mind then the 20% rule should not mean you see staff members out of the business one day per week.
Plenty to be positive about!
Whilst there will no doubt be examples of bad practice and areas of improvement, we would argue that this has always been the case when you take a sweeping view of Apprenticeships and training across our sprawling network of UK businesses and how they recruit, train and incentivise their staff.
We believe the key benefits and purpose of Apprenticeships. The programmes are now even more closely aligned to the specific skills, knowledge and behaviours required for each job role. Apprenticeship are also much more flexible in terms of how they can be delivered and how this fits in to the practical experience side of the role. Most importantly they have put Employers firmly in charge of their own Apprenticeship training spend – and we as training providers have hopefully responded by ensuring what we deliver is fit for purpose and provides good value for money.