By James Hammill, Head of Apprenticeships, Kaplan

Apprenticeships are high on the government’s agenda. Earlier this month, Vince Cable announced his intentions to create an additional 100,000 Apprenticeship places by 2014, investing £1.4billion in the programme. You may ask the question, why is the government so keen on Apprenticeships? Why are they doing so much to encourage businesses to train or take Apprentices on? I believe the answer to this is two-fold. Of course Apprenticeships are good for staff who are looking to up-skill and young people looking to begin a qualification. They offer high-quality training and entry or progression into professions that they can build a career on. But there are also benefits for business. Apprentices have been proven to add value to the organisations they work — recent research from the National Apprenticeship Service showed that 80% of employers said Apprentices increase the productivity of their business.

At Kaplan, we work with hundreds of employers big and small helping them to up-skill their existing staff or take on new recruits. In my experience, Apprentices do bring significant benefits to their employers and I would encourage businesses of all shapes and sizes to consider Apprenticeships as part of their training and recruitment strategy. Here are my top tips for how firms can make the most of Apprenticeships.

Think about the different ways you can use Apprenticeships to benefit your business — Apprenticeships aren’t just for organisations who are thinking of hiring a young person. Many businesses use Apprenticeships to train and up-skill existing staff. This can be a great way to increase productivity and motivate employees.

Explore the funding on offer — Apprenticeship funding is available for employers who wish to train existing employees or hire people via Apprenticeship training programmes. This varies depending on the age of the apprentice. For 16-18 year olds, 100% of training costs will be funded by the government. Apprentices aged 19 or over will receive a proportion of the funding for their training. However, employers should be aware that they need to treat Apprentices like any other employee, paying them a wage and supporting them in their job role.

Find out about the range of Apprenticeships available — Apprenticeships aren’t just for people working in traditional trades. There are over 190 types of Apprenticeships in a variety of industry sectors from accountancy to engineering. Whatever the need of your organisation, there’s bound to be an apprenticeship programme fits your business.

Find a training provider that works for you — Apprentices carry out most of their learning on the job, with the rest done through a training provider. There are a number of organisations that run Apprenticeship training programmes. As such, there are different programmes on offer so speak to providers to find out more about the options they have available and their success rates. Kaplan is an established training provider that trains Apprentices in accountancy, customer service, team leading, management and business administration. They offer a variety of Apprenticeships across different levels to meet the needs of different organisations and have high success rates in these areas.

It’s easier than you might think — A good training provider like Kaplan will help you every step of the way when it comes to enrolling existing staff or hiring someone new. The service they offer includes helping you decide which apprenticeship will best suit your business needs, finding the right candidate, explaining the funding available, managing training and ensuring quality standards are met.

Learn from the experiences of other employers — Over 130,000 employers across the country train their staff through Apprenticeships and why not read find out what some of them have to say about the scheme? You may know people through your own networks or you can read testimonials on the National Apprenticeship Service website.

Think about the future - What staff and skills will you need to take your organisation forward in the future? — Apprenticeships are a great way of developing and hiring the talent your organisation will need for the future. Allowing existing staff to train through Apprenticeship schemes or hiring new staff can enable them to develop a broad base of skills that will help set any organisation in good stead for the years to come. Apprenticeships give the opportunity to ‘grow your own’ leaders (57% of Apprentice employers report a high proportion of their Apprentices going on to management positions within their company).

Look at the facts — There is a wide range of evidence that demonstrates the value Apprentices can bring to an organisation. For example, 80% of apprentice employers agree that their Apprentices make their workplace more productive and 88% believe Apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce.

Kaplan is one of the world’s leading providers of lifelong education and training. Programmes include Apprenticeships, vocational training, training for professional qualifications, online learning and degree programmes.
To find out more visit www.kaplanvocational.co.uk