Why not take on an apprentice?

This week is National Apprenticeship Week, 9-13 March. Co-ordinated by the Skills Funding Agency, it’s designed to shine a spotlight on apprenticeships and the value they bring not only to the individuals themselves but to businesses and the wider economy.

And it’s a growth sector. Around 440,000 people signed up for apprenticeships in 2013-14, up from 280,000 in 2009-10, with women now taking up 55 per cent of all apprenticeships.

The Government is committed to the programme, allocating some £1.5bn to fund part or all of them.

Apprentices must be aged 16 or over and combine working with studying for a work-based qualification, from GCSEs up to degree level. By law, apprentices need to be paid the minimum wage, but employers can apply for a grant or funding. If you’re a small business you could get a grant of £1,500 to help cover the costs of a new apprentice aged between 16 and 24.

There are now 1,500 different apprenticeships available in more than 170 industries and the tourism and hospitality industry is one of the biggest employers. Little wonder, it needs 855,000 new staff by 2017.

There are two types of hospitality apprenticeships – an Intermediate Level offering training for waiting/silver service, bar staff, housekeepers and receptionists, or Advanced Level apprenticeships for roles such as front of house manager, head of reception, team leaders in hospitality or retail outlets.

In addition, there are apprenticeships in leisure management, leisure opportunities and activity leadership for outdoor attractions.

Why take on an apprenticeship? According to the figures, businesses report an average increase in productivity of £214 a week when they hire apprentices, 90 per cent of apprentices stay on in employment and 71 per cent stay with the same employer. And 96 per cent of businesses report a benefit to their business.

To find out more, visit www.gov.uk/take-on-an-apprentice

By Sheron Crossman