From saving money on recruitment costs to encouraging mentor/mentee relationships, hiring apprentices can bring a wide range of benefits to your business.
However, making sure that apprenticeship opportunities are age-inclusive brings even more value; helping you to throw a wider recruitment net and attract a multi-skilled, diverse workforce.
Here, we’ve put together a short guide to setting up age-inclusive apprenticeship opportunities at your company…
1. Understand your responsibilities as an employer
Before you begin the process of setting up an age-inclusive apprenticeship opportunity at your workplace, it’s important to invest some time in understanding your responsibilities as an employer. Some of the key ones are to…
- Provide apprentices with a role and contract of employment for the duration of their apprenticeship
- Pay apprentices at least the national minimum wage
- Pay apprentices for time spent working on the job, as well as time spent studying off-the-job with a learning provider
- Offer apprentices the same working conditions as other employees – for example, holiday and sick pay
- Make sure apprentices work with experienced staff and learn skills specific to their role
To find out more about your responsibilities as an employer when managing apprentices, you can visit one of these country-specific government websites…
2. Look into what kind of funding is available
While you’ll be responsible for paying your apprentice’s wages, you’re entitled to funding to put towards the cost of their training and assessments.
However, the type of funding you can receive will depend on things like the size of your business and where you are in the UK.
You can use the buttons below to read about how apprenticeship funding is allocated in your country.
3. Decide which apprenticeship standards to offer
Once you’ve familiarised yourself with your responsibilities as an employer and the funding at your disposal, you can start looking at apprenticeship standards.
Apprenticeship standards (referred to as ‘frameworks’ in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) are essentially the different types of apprenticeships that are available. These differ from country to country, but the basic principle is the same.
Apprenticeship standards outline the following….
- The relevant knowledge, skills, and behaviours that apprentices must learn to succeed in a specific role within a particular industry. Each one is designed by employers and named after that particular role/industry – i.e. accident repair technician (level 7)
- The typical duration of the course
- The maximum amount of government funding available for the course
You’ll notice from the example above that apprenticeship standards also come with a level. This indicates how advanced the apprenticeship is. How these are categorised also varies from country to country. However, the ones currently on offer in England are depicted in the table below…
4, 5, 6 and 7
Foundation degree and higher
6 and 7
Bachelor’s or master’s degree
Choosing the right apprenticeship standards for your organisation should be relatively simple, as, chances are, it’ll be based on a current role or roles that you’re looking to fill.
You can use the buttons below to search for apprenticeship standards in your country…
4. Choose a learning provider
The next step in the process is to select which training provider you’d like to deliver the in-class portion of your apprentice’s learning.
While each provider will aim to endow students with all of the relevant knowledge, skills, and behaviours set out by the apprenticeship standard, the quality of the teaching and how it’s conducted will inevitably vary.
For this reason, it’s worth doing some research to find out which one best suits the needs of your business.
Some other things to consider are…
- Location of the learning provider
- Whether they offer day or block release (i.e. learning in days or weeks at a time)
- How they report apprentices’ progress back to employers
- Whether or not they are registered with the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers RoATP – this helps to ensure your chosen organisation is credible
Once you’ve found a few of your favourite learning providers, we recommend speaking with each one directly. This list of suggested questions from Skills Development Scotland will give you an idea of what to ask. Though, to make sure your chosen provider is as committed to age diversity as you are, we’d also recommend asking: ‘How do you make your learning accessible for all ages?’
5. Create an account with the relevant apprenticeship service
The next step to hiring an apprentice is to create an account with the apprenticeship service relevant to your country.
You can search and view apprenticeship courses and training providers without an account. But, depending on which service you’re using, creating an account will allow you to do things like save and manage your choices, set up your apprenticeship opportunity, access funding, advertise vacancies, and more…
6. Find an apprentice
When it comes to finding an apprentice, employers have two options. They can either recruit one or use the opportunity to upskill an existing employee…
Recruiting an apprentice
Wherever you live in the UK, the best way to search for and recruit an apprentice is to create an advert through your apprenticeship service account. This will then be viewable on your country’s apprenticeship recruitment website.
For more information on how to advertise an apprenticeship opportunity, you can select your country below…
You can also find an apprentice through other recruitment methods. For example, by advertising the position on job boards (such as Rest Less), hosting open days, taking part in careers fairs, and advertising vacancies on social media.
Adding a diversity and inclusion statement to your job postings can help to show potential candidates that you embrace and are committed to welcoming candidates of different ages, genders, races, sexual orientations, and backgrounds.
It’s also worth paying close attention to the language you include to ensure it appeals to as wide an audience as possible. For example, it’s best to avoid phrases like ‘recent graduate’, which can be seen as biased towards younger applicants.
For more tips on how to make your job adverts more inclusive, take a look at our article on the subject. And for advice on your wider hiring process, take a look at our article; 7 ways to make your recruitment strategy more age-inclusive.
Upskill an existing employee
If you’re looking to fill a role or skill gap through an age-inclusive apprenticeship, why not see if there are any appropriate candidates already working for your company?
Upskilling existing employees through apprenticeships is a great option because they’ll already be a good fit for your company culture, and you’ll have an idea of what their strengths and weaknesses are. You’ll also be able to save on recruitment costs.
Although, perhaps the most important benefit of offering apprenticeship opportunities to your existing staff is that you’ll be demonstrating that you’re invested in their progress and development. This can go a long way to improving morale, productivity, and satisfaction – as well as improving retention.
7. Devise an apprenticeship agreement and training plan
As we’ve already stated, employers are partially responsible for the learning and development of their apprentice(s) – as are the learning providers and the apprentices themselves.
To ensure that each of these parties adheres to their individual responsibilities, there are a few key documents that you’ll need to draft up.
As with each of the previous steps, this stage will be slightly different depending on your individual circumstances and where in the UK you’re based. However, it usually involves two types of documents: an apprenticeship agreement and a training plan (or commitment statement).
If you’re setting up an apprenticeship in England, you can find out more information on these documents over on the government’s website.
As for those elsewhere in the UK, online information is relatively limited. But your chosen learning provider will be able to guide you through this stage of the process.
8. Provide ongoing support to your apprentice
Congratulations, you’ve hired an apprentice! But as you probably already know, your work isn’t over. As with any employee, hiring an apprentice involves an ongoing commitment that continues the entire time they’re with you.
In addition to all of your regular responsibilities as an employer, you’ll need to continually work with your learning provider to provide your apprentice with mentoring opportunities, performance reviews, and sufficient chances to learn and practice industry-relevant skills – among other things.
To find out more about how you can support your apprentices, take a look at this resource from apprenticeships.gov.uk.
While this isn’t an exhaustive how-to, we hope our brief guide has given you an idea of what you need to do to set up an age-inclusive apprenticeship opportunity at your company.
Have you set up an age-inclusive apprenticeship opportunity at your workplace? Or are you thinking about it? We’d love to hear from you in the comment below!