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Can an apprentice benefit your business?

With National Apprenticeship Week (9th-13th January 2015) just around the corner, Wendy Robinson from Mid-Cheshire College explains the potential benefits an apprentice could bring to your small business.

Employing an apprentice can be a great way of boosting your business; 96% of employers who take on an apprentice report benefits to their business whilst 72% report improved productivity as a direct result of employing an apprentice. They play a vital role in equipping young people with the skills they need to succeed in the labour market and build a rewarding career. The current government has prioritised apprenticeships; with 1.5 million apprenticeship starts since 2010.

So what is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a way for young people and adult learners to earn while they learn in a real job, gaining a real qualification and a real future and within a wide range of subject areas from business administration, to hairdressing and care, and are offered at a range of levels. An apprenticeship will take between one and four years to complete depending on the subject and level being completed and may involve day release with a local college or training provider.

What are the employer's obligations?

An apprentice will normally work a minimum of 30 hours per week and should receive a minimum wage (currently £2.73 an hour for the 2014/15 financial year).

Once an apprentice has been appointed into the business then you are committed to provide them with employment for as long as it takes to complete their programme or a minimum of 12 months, whichever is greater, subject to satisfactory performance. As with other employees, apprentices must receive a minimum 28 days holiday per year (which can include bank holidays).

What are the business benefits?

There are a variety of benefits and apprentice can bring to your small business, from growing your own motivated, skilled and qualified workforce, to boosting productivity.

What's more apprenticeships are not just limited to new employees. They can also provide a way of improving the skills of current staff helping businesses across all sectors to ensure that skills shortages are reduced.

In addition to all of the above taking on an apprentice can prove to be cost effective as there may be government funding available to your organisation.

Read more information on apprenticeships or contact our helpline on 0845 130 1722.

Note: If you take on an apprentice as an employer you must ensure you have an apprenticeship contract drawn up and signed by both parties. Otherwise you will be legally obliged to pay the national minimum wage rate, rather than the £2.73 an hour 2014/15 apprenticeship rate.

Also, the way in which apprentices can be dismissed is different to normal employees, so you may need to make sure that you have a term in your contract that enables you to dismiss them for poor performance. We encourage all members to call our helpline on 0845 130 1722 before taking on an apprentice to discuss the options available to you.

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