What is the added value of apprentices?
There is no question that apprenticeships are valuable for both the apprentice and the employer. Apprentices are provided with hands-on experience and a qualification, and the organisation gains an employee with the exact skill set they require through cost-effective training. But what value can apprentices bring on top of this?
Productivity, competitive advantage, motivation, staff retention, increased skills capacity – the list seems endless. The truth is, when taking on apprentices, you gain a lot more than just a skilled member of staff. A study conducted by Cebr found that the average apprenticeship completer increases business productivity by £214 per week. Combine this with the need for other employees to mentor apprentices providing a source of motivation, you can begin to see how much apprentices can really bring to your business.
These benefits are not just seen whilst employees are completing their apprenticeships, thanks to the tailored and personal level of training they receive, the retention of apprentice completers is much higher. Apprenticeships show an investment of time and money in each individual and their future; in turn, they see their job as a career and are more committed to your company and its objectives.
With the improvement in staff motivation, productivity skills and retention, it is quite clear that there are multiple benefits to having apprentices in your workforce. Any employer that utilises this potential could gain a strong competitive advantage in their market.
How can employers make the most of this value?
Simply employing apprentices and taking them through a standard framework to completion is not making the most of this potential value. Ultimately, it is up to you to encourage and support your apprentices to see these benefits in full.
There are numerous simple but effective ways to make sure that both you as the employer, and your apprentices, gain the most of the scheme. Providing apprentices with effective mentoring, supervision and monitoring of progress ensures that they stay motivated. Focusing on a more rounded development for apprentices, not just of their hard skills, but their soft skills and business acumen. This shows that you are invested in their career development, rather than what they can bring to the business immediately.
Communication is also key in extracting this value. This involves communicating opportunities, your objectives for them and your wider business objectives. But ensuring that you provide opportunities for them to communicate with you is the most important. It is important they know that they are a valued member of the business. There are benefits for you, too. These meetings can provide you with invaluable information and a fresh perspective on the business. Ultimately, their view can help you to build a more dynamic business.
How we champion our apprentices
Here at BYES, we strive to have 5% of our workforce in ‘earn and learn’ positions like apprenticeships. We work hard to ensure that the apprenticeship scheme is as valuable as possible to the individuals on it.
We recently held an apprenticeship forum at our head office with the theme ‘Thinking Big’, focusing on their development opportunities. The forum provided our apprentices with the opportunity to share their views, questions and concerns with us either openly or anonymously. We focused on their development outside of hard skills, on how to develop their personal brand, promote themselves, and take control of their career development. Our 2020 strategy was communicated, to show what our ambitions are, and where the jobs of the future may lie.
Barry Coleman, Contract Director at Bouygues Energies & Services, who completed his apprenticeship with us, also spoke at the forum. He provided tips for progression and held a Q&A with the apprentices to answer any questions and provide advice for their career.
Through this forum, we have created a strong relationship with our apprentices that brings value to them as well as us. Zoe McGrath, an apprentice engineer here at Bouygues Energies & Services said
“Going to the apprenticeship forum has been one of my favourite parts of my time here. I got the chance to visit head office and meet a lot of other apprentices within the business that were working on the tools. I got to see a different side of the company, and was given a really good insight into the company as a whole.”