APPRENTICES are now being acknowledged by more and more employers as a vital investment for the future of their business - either by taking them on as new staff or by developing existing employees to further their careers.

For young apprentices, it’s a chance to earn while they learn, put them ahead in the jobs market of others who have chosen the university route instead. And for employers it’s a chance to source and attract enthusiastic, energetic people with a fresh outlook into the world of work.

Damian Burdin, Chief Executive at Progress to Excellence Ltd, said: “As a national training provider with our own Apprentice Recruitment Service, we know the value to businesses of taking on apprentices. In fact, we have just hit a major milestone in filling more than 100 apprenticeship vacancies with employers throughout England during the past year.

“This is a clear example that employers realise the value of recruiting new staff and then training them along with existing staff through an apprenticeship. We are delighted to see so many apprentices successfully placed in businesses where they are able to expand their own skills and knowledge then becoming great assets to their employers.”

For employers looking to embark on an apprenticeship programme, here are five reasons why apprentices make good business sense:

1. Fill skills shortages

The power of apprentices is increasingly being seen by employers as a means of plugging their business’ skills gaps. A “home grown” talent pool brings eager young people directly into your business at the very start of their careers, allowing you to shape them into the ways of company best practice and culture from the outset. There are apprenticeship opportunities in most sectors, whether in health and social care, administration, management, accounting, law, creative and media, IT or retail, or in the likes of construction, engineering and logistics. 

2. A cost-effective way to grow your business

Apprentices are a business investment that’s been proven to boost a company’s financial performance - research has shown that apprenticeships actually boost productivity by an average of £214 a week as a result of increased profits and reduced staff turnover.

Performing a proper job role from the moment they start, apprentices in some sectors can generate a return on investment for a business of between 150 and 300 per cent. Apprentices typically generate profit within 18-24 months and often within 12 months.

3. A pathway to career progression

A City & Guilds report found that almost 20 per cent of employers had former apprentices working in board level positions, with long-term career progression not just for those who went to university.

Half of companies questioned said apprentices were reaching management level in around five years. By using the apprenticeship route, employers can up-skill existing staff, helping them progress their career development.

Investing in an existing workforce can also be financially rewarding as it’s more efficient than hiring new staff and there is no dip in productivity.

4. Increase staff loyalty and retention

Young apprentices trained in-house are more likely to be loyal to the company that has supported their career development from day one of their employment. Because they feel valued in the workplace, they become strong and dependable employees, improving staff retention and helping to build and sustain a vital team ethic. Recent figures have shown that 80 per cent of companies which have run an apprenticeship programme report a significant increase in employee retention and 76 per cent reported an increase in workplace productivity. 

5. No age barrier to apprenticeships

There is now no upper age limit on apprenticeships, meaning anyone who is aged 16-plus can study an apprenticeship, subject to eligibility checks. With apprenticeships being available at entry all the way up to degree level, they are a cost-effective way to train new and existing staff. 

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