Employing Apprentices: An Employer’s View
It’s very easy for companies to assess the financial implications of hiring an apprentice, in terms of the grants available and how much employers must contribute. What is harder though, is for employers to assess the day to day impact on the business as a whole of having an apprentice join the team. Here, we explore the highs and lows of hiring an apprentice at Mulberry Square Ltd.
The good bits
As apprentices have usually decided that training whilst working is the route for them, and have chosen an industry in which they have a particular interest, you will find that they are very eager to learn. Apprentices tend to have a genuine interest in the work they are doing, the company they are doing it for, and enjoy learning how the business as a whole fits together. As they are undertaking an element of academic work as well as the job itself, and must do well in this in order to complete their apprenticeship, there is a reasonable vested interest for them to work hard for you too!
Our own experience with employing apprentices has been very much like this, and we have employed several over the past few years. We have found them to be very committed to improving themselves and their skills, and keen to learn more and to become more involved. As their skills and confidence progress, they have universally become valued members of our team and contributed well to the business as a whole, both through attitude and the practicalities of billable hours.
The harder bits (and how to deal with them)
Probably the most common issue employers have with apprentices is also the one which can most easily be anticipated: lack of experience and lack of commercial awareness. This does mean that apprentices are almost certainly going to take more time to complete a task to satisfaction than a more experienced member of the team. Their work will of course also require a fair amount more supervision. This can add pressure to existing employees who are either held up by the apprentice, or have to spare time during the day to help with training them.
A way in which we minimise this impact is to encourage apprentices to self-learn. The internet has a wealth of information about best practices and the way in which various programmes and software work. By encouraging apprentices to find out information themselves by reading online, as well as following and engaging with industry leaders on Twitter.
Applications such as Twitter can be invaluable in an apprentice’s learning, and can really benefit the business as a whole as the apprentice is consistently exposed to new thinking and ideas. Having someone with the time and inclination to be keeping abreast of new developments means that the company is at the forefront of new thinking, and is able to adapt its services accordingly and stay ahead of the competition.
There’s no getting away from the fact that apprentices will take more time investment for the company than an experienced employee. However, that time investment is largely offset by the financial help that you are entitled to by offering them their chance at training.
Being in a position where you can train someone up to work in the way that best suits your company, without having to undo too many bad habits learnt elsewhere does offer real long term gain for the company, as well as the not quite so business-like “feel good factor” of knowing that you’ve given someone a real opportunity to learn and progress in their chosen career.
We have, almost without exception, found apprentices to be diligent, hard-working, enthusiastic workers and learners who have contributed to the success of the business in a wide variety of ways, and where possible we will certainly continue to employ them and offer them the training and experience they need.
“We’re really pleased with the website Mulberry Square created for us. The design and ease of navigation are great, and the fact that we can easily update it ourselves is just what we needed.”
Sue Pooley, Chief Executive of Norton House, Leicester