The Rise of Apprenticeships: What are the benefits for both employer and apprentice?

July 16, 2018eps_admin

The introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in April 2017 has had mixed results. A report published in January by the CIPD showed that just 17% of levy paying employers supported the current system. The levy was implemented to focus on businesses with a wage bill of £3 Million or more, with a percentage of that, each month being paid into the ‘levy pot’.

This ‘pot’ can then be used for various things;

  • Employing new apprentices
  • Further training for current apprentices
  • Further training for current employees
Whilst the levy is probably not being used to full effect, the number of young people choosing apprenticeships in 2018 is rising. In 2017/18 there were 147,200 new apprentices and nearly half of them were supported by the levy.
They are clearly increasing in popularity but why is this the case?
Rising degree fees, increased living costs and the need for a degree being seen as less important in certain sectors has led to fewer people choosing to go to University. We are moving away from the idea that in order to get a ‘good job’ you need to go to University. Apprentices receive paid training, which often results in a degree level qualification without accruing substantial student debt. Probably the most valuable thing apprenticeships offer, however, is experience. Employers want to be able to see you can do the job in hand and having a degree doesn’t necessarily mean you can do this.
The best examples we can give you of the benefits to both employers and apprentices is the first hand experience we have had at Easypay.
I spoke to Jenny Douglas, our Senior Payroll Administrator, who started with us at Easypay in 2015 as an apprentice.
What attracted you to an Apprenticeship?
I had just left school and wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do as a career. I also didn’t feel that I had the skills or confidence to go straight into a full time position or go to university. I chose an apprenticeship so I could receive training for the role, whilst at the same time building confidence and gaining more of an idea of what I wanted to do.
What were your first impressions when you started?
It was definitely a busy environment when I first started! There was pressure to meet deadlines, so it was quite difficult trying to fit my coursework around my day to day jobs. I felt like I had been thrown in at the deep end and worried I wouldn’t be able to handle the pressure, but thankfully the assessor I had was very helpful and guided me through my coursework.
Have these first impressions changed since you started?
They have changed completely. The new payroll systems we have and the new team members help us to carry out tasks much quicker, allowing the new apprentices to get more time and guidance with their training.
How did you find the apprenticeship and how has it benefited you?
At first I found it very difficult due to the pressures in a busy business environment. However over time I found it much easier to understand. I’ve gained so much more knowledge and confidence through doing the apprenticeship. The greatest benefit was being taken on as a full time employee once the year was over. Not only do I now have an understanding of payroll funding, invoice funding and the wide range of services we offer. I now also understand the recruitment sector in which our clients operate.
Would you recommend an apprenticeship to someone?
I have already recommended apprenticeships to several of my friends. I found it so useful to learn on the job as it gave me a better idea of how the job needed to be done. There was also the added benefit that I was receiving a wage as well which helped me pay the bills that were piling up.
I also spoke to the Financial Director at Easypay, Sarah Shaw about her thoughts on the impact apprentices have to employers.
What made the business invest in apprentices?
Because of the positive experiences we had with both our young and more mature apprentices when we first started. All our apprentices have been keen to learn, bright and enthusiastic. I like the fact that an apprentice is protected and expected to make mistakes whilst they learn. Once they become a permanent employee they understand both the business and key processes unique to your business.
Did you have any worries about employing an apprentice?
I was concerned as to whether they would have the right work ethic. Entering an office environment straight from school can be daunting and is very different to what school leavers are used to. Also from my experience, with teenagers of my own, there can be a lack of organisation as so much is taken care of in terms of memory by mobile phones and apps on phones.
If yes, were these worries justified?
Yes to an extent but in our experience the work ethic and enthusiasm does tend to compensate and the other things can hopefully be taught and overcome.
How has the business benefited from apprentices?
It has been a pleasure working with and developing our apprentices that have been so keen to start work and learn. They have absorbed everything we have taught them and learnt quickly. It is very rare that we have not retained an apprentice once they have completed their apprenticeship.
Would you recommend employing apprentices to other business?
Yes 100%.
The benefits to both apprentices and employers are clear and worthwhile. They bring a new perspective and way of thinking, whilst being eager to learn. We encourage you to look into using your levy pot if you pay into it, and for those who don’t, there are various government funded schemes that would allow you to take on a new apprentice.
If you would like more information about how we started our apprentice programme or would like to know more about our team, please contact our Customer Care Manager, Shelagh Ward, on 01943 883263 or email shelagh.ward@easypayservices.co.uk.
With Easypay, it’s personal…