Apprenticeships - How to grow your own

Written by Professional Academy's Contracts Manager Jill Towner

Lots of people seem to think they need to ‘take on an apprentice’ but this doesn’t necessarily fit with the new apprenticeship process. Although, historically, apprentices were taken on by craft guilds when children of upper class parents were bound to their master who delivered training, moral guidance and board and lodgings. But this was way back in medieval times.

New apprenticeships are available to anyone in employment, and there have been some other changes - it is unlikely that much ‘moral guidance’ will be included as part of the Standards and they won’t usually get board and lodgings paid for under the funding rules.

However, the principle of the 12th century practice remains: an apprenticeship is a way of training a new generation of practitioners with on-the-job training. To do this successfully, you don’t always need to ‘take on an apprentice’ but can select existing employees to undertake apprenticeships (as well as taking on new staff and get them trained up if you need to). This has the benefit of you being able to assess the potential of your potential apprentice – their enthusiasm, interest, loyalty and the likelihood of completing the apprenticeship successfully.

And, another benefit, is that you already employ them so no recruitment or additional salary costs are involved. If you are a levy payer then the Government top up your training contributions by 10% and, if you are not a levy payer, the Government contribution is 90% of the total cost (up to the band maximum) – free/almost free training! Sounds too good to be true.

So think about this as an opportunity to grow your own talent – talent which will you will hopefully keep for many years as you develop new and existing staff to do their jobs better, prepare for promotion, or learn new skills required for a change in direction.

Practising what we preach... 

At Professional Academy we are great believers in ‘growing your own’. Our Business Administration apprentice from 18 months ago is now an integral part of our team and a fledgling accountant. Having discovered an aptitude for accounts she will shortly be embarking on another apprenticeship. She knows our company and the team and we already appreciate what a valuable asset she is to our organisation. Our digital marketing apprentice is almost half way thorough her 1-year course and we know she will share her enthusiasm and creativity with us for many years. She started by helping to support our Marketing Director but is now working semi-independently from her project plan: sending tweets, designing infographics, undertaking LinkedIn activities, writing blogs, working with our PR contacts, as well as helping with mail shots and web design… learning on the job and giving back so much more through her unique approach and ‘Generation Z’ insights (something the more mature of don’t always have or even understand!).

By growing our own talent, and being committed to keeping it, we will have staff uniquely placed to fulfil all our requirements, who we know will embrace further apprenticeships as they become appropriate and will reward us with loyalty and add to our ‘corporate memory’. Something you don’t get with an ‘in-train-out’ attitude to apprentices.

So, don’t just think apprenticeships are about taking on new staff - they are also about maximising the potential of your existing staff. Whatever their age, whatever their previous learning, the new apprenticeship programme is about giving anyone the chance to develop and grow.

If you would like to talk to one of our business development team about the apprenticeship programmes available and how the schemes work please do contact us via or drop us a call on 01223 365 505 and one of our team would be happy to have chat.