The advent of the Apprenticeship Levy meant that, for many companies, the focus of their attention moved to Apprenticeships being for members of their existing workforce rather than for new recruits to their business.
Given the expectations of time off the job and other costs associated with offering Apprenticeships to staff, they are and should be considered an investment in the workforce.
For that reason, Apprenticeships for existing staff should be seen as much more than just ‘training’ – rather they should carry all the features and benefits that we give to young people starting their careers by undertaking an Apprenticeship.
As noted, they are an investment. They cost real money – either by virtue of the Levy or Employer contribution. They also have a cost attached to the thorough off the job training. This is money that the Employer is investing in their staff and the expectation is that there will be a benefit in doing so.
At the highest level the Employer will expect that the Apprentice is better able to do the job that they are doing and better able to progress into the job that they wish to do. Study after study is clear on the association between an Apprenticeship and better productivity and profitability.
Apprentices are shown to have better Employment retention. In a recruitment market that favours applicants, holding onto Employees not only saves the time and effort of recruitment but, more importantly, it mitigates the risks and challenges of constant churn in the business.
Employees that are valued are typically better ambassadors for the business (both internally and externally) than those who aren’t. Employees who feel that their Employer is taking their career seriously and investing time and money in them will present a much better face of the business – and whether that is on the phone at work or in the pub with friends, customers are always listening
Apprenticeships encourage (OK, force) a manager to sit down and talk about performance, expectation and ambition. Often these conversations don’t happen as often as they should and in many cases Employees feel uncomfortable about driving these conversations. The Apprenticeship process presents set points when Manager, Apprentice and Assessor sit and speak. In my experience these meetings generate ideas and plans that wouldn’t otherwise have found a place to be heard.
Many continue to decry the impact that the Levy has had on new recruit Apprenticeships. I believe that Apprenticeships are incredibly important as a route for people to find their way into the workforce. While that is the case we need to balance that need with the very real benefit that many thousands of people are getting from doing an Apprenticeship further into their career.