By Adele Oxberry, CEO and founder, Umbrella Training
Whether first-time entrants dipping their foot into a new industry, or seasoned employees taking steps to advance their career, apprenticeships are a great starting point for many people. Apprenticeships also fit easily into both organisational development agendas and recruitment strategies.
What benefits do apprenticeships bring to organisations?
For starters, they have the advantage of being extremely versatile and flexible to business needs, with the National Apprenticeship Service finding that 86 percent of employers said apprentices developed skills relevant to their organisation.
Consider the fact that 78 percent of employers said apprentices helped to improve productivity and 74 percent of employers’ apprentices helped them improve the quality of their product or service and it’s easy to see why apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly popular choice among businesses.
Sourcing an apprentice
The main question for businesses considering taking on an apprentice is often, where do I start?
The first step is to create an account at GOV.UK. Here, you can apply for apprenticeship funding, upload a vacancy, and get funding for assessment costs.
If you are an SME or micro business, you can access the full apprenticeship service with two options.
The first option is for the government to invest 95 percent towards the training and end-point assessment (EPA) fees for the apprentice with an approved training provider. In this case, the business needs to pay the remaining 5 percent (which for a level 2 apprentice is around £225).
Alternatively, businesses can opt to access a large corporation’s levy pot who are willing to share their levy due to underspend. This means that 100 percent of the apprenticeship is funded.
Training providers can guide and support businesses every step of the way. It’s important to find one that is prepared to understand your values. Once a business has spent time with an expert provider, they should come away with a plan of action that makes the whole process clear and concise.
Developing apprenticeships programmes
Umbrella Training is an example of a training and apprenticeship provider for the hospitality and corporate sectors that creates tailored programmes to fit each business and its needs.
While the curriculum is set by the apprenticeship standard and the EPA plan, Umbrella specifically aligns each business’s programme with not only their culture and values but their structure, staff engagement, leadership, skills development, and staff wellbeing, too.
An ongoing commitment
In addition to mentoring, coaching and training the apprentice as part of their day job, the apprentice receives off-the-job training for a minimum of 20 percent of the time that they are paid to work.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for businesses to adapt to changes in working environments and external learning, which should be an additional consideration for businesses considering apprenticeships.
Providing employers with access to their education providers a year ahead of schedule has enabled Umbrella Training to help businesses to navigate peaks and troughs within their sector while providing ongoing support. Umbrella also hosts bi-monthly business reviews with employers to ensure all plans are on track.
Financially, while the costs of the apprenticeship training and EPA are covered, businesses are required to pay apprentices a fair wage and to cover the costs of off-the-job training.
Businesses also need to supply uniforms and all relevant PPE for the role as well as offering robust inductions to keep employees safe.
Given the current situation with our industry, we have worked hard to create programmes which help to raise awareness of hospitality apprenticeships through funding bitesize programmes such as BOOST.
These provide businesses with a steady introduction to development programmes which then lead to apprenticeships. It has also recently launched its Hospitality Orientation Programme (HOP) which provides businesses with new talent before they commit to a full apprenticeship programme.
We also offer additional services such as apprentice clubs that support with peer-to-peer review and provide access to mentors from the wider hospitality sector.
Apprenticeships and the future
A recent study by TD Ameritrade states that 70 percent of the Gen Z population would consider an apprenticeship when they leave school – an important statistic when you consider the fact that they make up an estimated 41 percent of the UK population.
The Youth Voice Census 2021 confirmed that Gen Z want equal and diverse apprenticeship opportunities and are more likely to apply for roles that have strong ethnically and racially diverse recruiters, proven cultures, and materials.
The survey found that 32.7 percent would apply for an apprenticeship via the apprenticeship service, 16.8 percent directly via a business’s website, and 30.4 percent via Indeed.
The findings also highlighted the need for businesses to offer above the apprentice minimum wage with clear progression routes. Gen Z are proven to be motivated by benefits, with research from Rave Reviews stating that 89 percent felt empowered by planning their financial future.
As well as helping businesses to retain their workforce and provide vital development opportunities, a good apprenticeship programme can help to increase a business’s profile in its local community, and increase productivity and motivation levels – leading to a reported 20 percent rise in sales.