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Taking on a trainee or apprentice can have a positive impact on your business although, as with all staffing changes, some planning is needed to make sure your new recruit – and your wider team – can thrive.

If you’re thinking of hiring a trainee or apprentice, we’ve put together this quick guide to help.

Traineeships are usually short-term placements designed to provide individuals with work experience. They’re often unpaid, and there isn’t always a guaranteed job waiting at the end. Apprenticeships are long-term training programmes that combine on-the-job training with formal education.

The pros of apprenticeshipsThe cons of apprenticeships

Yes, you can normally get help with paying an apprentice during their training, and you might also receive up to £1,000 of additional support too. The funding available depends on whether or not your business is eligible to pay the Apprenticeship Levy.

  • If you don’t pay the levy: You’ll pay 5% of the training and assessment costs directly to the training provider. The government will pay the remaining 95%, up to the funding band maximum.
  • If you do pay the levy: You’ll receive funding towards the cost of training and assessment, as well as an additional 10% of government funding.

Do I need to pay the Apprenticeship Levy?

UK businesses taking on an apprentice may be eligible for the Apprenticeship Levy if your pay bill is more than £3 million each year. If you operate more than one business, then this amount will be based on the total for any ‘connected companies’.

The Apprenticeship Levy is 0.5% of your total pay bill for the year.

You’ll normally need to provide on-the-job mentoring and support, offer training, and carry out assessments in collaboration with a training provider. There are other legal requirements too, such as paying your apprentice the appropriate minimum wage.

The rules for employing an apprentice vary depending on whether you’re an employer based in:

Identify what your business needs

Determine the skills and roles within your business that would benefit from a trainee or apprentice. Be clear about the tasks and responsibilities you would like the trainee or apprentice to take on by writing a comprehensive job description.

Know what training you need to offer

It’s important to understand the training standards and qualifications needed for the trainee or apprentice role. This may involve collaborating with educational institutions to check it meets with industry standards.

It’s likely you will also need to partner with accredited training providers that offer relevant courses or apprenticeship programmes. This can really boost the quality of training and support you offer.

Create a structured programme

Develop a structured training programme that combines on-the-job experience with formal learning. Make sure there’s a clear progression path, including milestones and assessments, to track your apprentice’s development.

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Find the right apprentice for your business

Advertise your apprentice position through various different channels, such as online job boards, career fairs or local educational institutions.

Take time to carry out thorough interviews so you can gauge the candidate’s suitability for the role and how committed they are to learning and development. If you’re a first-time employer, then you may also need to register for PAYE in order to pay your new apprentice!

Our guide for first-time employers explains the process for getting started.

Have a watertight employment contract

Once a candidate has been chosen, give them a clear employment contract to sign that outlines the terms and conditions of their traineeship or apprenticeship.

Specify the date that the apprenticeship or traineeship is due to start, as well as its expected duration and any relevant qualifications or certifications they will work towards. Make sure to outline their working hours, pay, overtime expectations and any additional benefits too. The contract should also include:

  • Details about their probationary period
  • Notice periods for termination, and the grounds for termination. This will help you stay the right side of current employment laws.
  • Apprenticeship training plan, including on-the-job and off-the-job training components
  • The obligations and responsibilities of both parties, including any confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements
  • Details of any study leave, exam, or assessment arrangements
  • How any disputes will be resolved if they arise

Get your new trainee or apprentice settled in

A comprehensive onboarding process will help your new apprentice familiarise themselves with the culture, policies, and procedures of your business. It’s a good idea to assign a mentor or supervisor to guide them through their initial weeks, and of course, show them where everything is!

Plan monitoring and assessment

Regularly carry out assessments to measure the development of your trainee or apprentice. This feedback is essential for identifying strengths, tackling any problems, and making necessary adjustments to their training programme.

Build support and mentorship

Create a positive and inclusive learning environment by providing clear communication, constructive feedback, and plenty of opportunities for hands-on experience. Encourage curiosity and independent thinking, while also offering guidance and mentorship. After all, you want them to feel they can ask any questions without feeling silly!

It’s also useful to design a roadmap for their professional development, setting realistic goals and milestones, and actively involve them in the decision-making process. Ultimately, being patient, approachable and committed to their growth will mean a more rewarding apprenticeship experience.

Certify completion

Acknowledge their achievements with a formal certification once they complete their apprenticeship successfully. This not only recognises their efforts, but also adds value to their future career prospects, especially as they can add it to their CV.

Decide what happens next

Once the official end date of the apprenticeship is in sight, consider the next steps for the trainee or apprentice. This may involve offering a permanent position within your business, extending their training, or supporting them as they enter the job market.

Now is also a good time to reflect on the overall effectiveness of your traineeship or apprenticeship programme. Consider using this opportunity for feedback from both the trainee and other members of your team to identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments for new recruits in the future. You might find you learn something yourself!

Learn more about our online accounting services for businesses. Call 020 3355 4047 to chat to the team, and get an instant online quote.

About The Author

Suzanne Goodier-Dodson

I'm a Senior Payroll Clerk with a degree in Mathematics, responsible for overseeing every aspect of payroll for our clients. In my spare time, I love to travel and going to gigs. Read my Staff Spotlight.

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