As National Apprenticeship Week 2015 kicks off (9-13 March), apprenticeships ambassador and CEO of the Holt Group, Jason Holt CBE explains how apprentices can help build a strong and sustainable management model
Nearly a quarter of a million workplaces employed an apprentice in 2013/14, showing just how valued apprentices have become. Hiring apprentices is a sensible management decision and the statistics speak for themselves.
Nine in ten employers enjoy tangible commercial benefits as a result of hiring apprentices, whilst research by the Centre of Economic and Business Research (Cebr) estimates that apprenticeship completers can increase business productivity by £214 per week. Other benefits reported include improved skills levels and morale.
But perhaps even more compelling is the potential long-term impact of an apprentice. Indeed, a survey from 2013 found that one in five (19%) employers currently have former apprentices working in senior management positions.
Top 100 Apprenticeship Employer, JEB Engineering Design is a great example of this. The components manufacturer has trained over half of its skilled toolmakers, technicians and supervisors up from apprenticeship level. And now a number of these former apprentices are working in senior management positions at the firm.
JEB has always believed that the future success of the company is heavily dependent on the core skills of its workforce, which is why it puts apprenticeships firmly at the heart of its management and growth strategy. Even in difficult times the company has continued to invest in recruiting up to six apprentices each year, because it knows that apprentices are a crucial part of the long-term future of the business.
Apprenticeship success stories
There are plenty of other former apprentices who have not only become managers, but who have actually risen to the very top of their field. Last week, the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) published a list of the top forty wealthiest former apprentices.
At the very top was Lord Bamford. He began his career as an apprentice at an agricultural equipment manufacturing firm and went on to become Chairman of JCB and is worth an estimated £3.5 billion. In second place was Laurence Graff, founder of Graff Diamonds. He started out as a jewellery apprentice to a Hatton Garden jeweller having left school at the age of 15. Also on the list was Phones 4 U founder John Caudwell – previously an engineering apprentice, he is now estimated to be Britain’s 13th richest man.
But of course, it’s not just about the apprentice’s journey into management. Taking on apprentices can also offer great coaching and mentoring opportunities to existing staff – helping them to develop their own management skills and progress through the ranks.
The benefits of employing apprentices are clear. And the good news is, if businesses employing less than 50 staff could be eligible for a grant to help cover the cost of taking on an apprentice. The Apprenticeship Grant for Employers 16 to 24 is available until the end of the year to small organisations that are new to apprenticeships or haven’t enrolled a new recruit or existing employee onto an apprenticeship programme in the previous 12 months. Employers can receive up to five grants; with each one worth £1,500.
Visit the National Apprenticeship Service website or call the National Apprenticeship Service on 08000 150 600.
Apprenticeships are now available in 1500 job roles, covering more than 170 industries, including management. A higher apprenticeship in management covers skills such informing strategic decision making, managing budgets, leading teams and implementing change