5 reasons SMEs could benefit from employing an apprentice

Posted on: 26 February 2014

According to a recent Premierline poll, only 18% of British small business owners have ever considered employing an apprentice - and this doesn't mean that they then go on to do so!

There is lots of evidence out there which suggests that your business could benefit from employing one. Here are five reasons why we think you should consider this.

Identify gaps in your skill-base

National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) starts on the 3rd March. This event can help a business through the process of employing an apprentice. It also helps those organisations that already hire them to understand more about the qualifications and availability of the aspiring apprentices who are yet to find a job. Because there is no limit on the number of apprentices a business can employ.

So NAW offers an opportunity for you to assess your own and your team’s skillset, figure out where there are any gaps, and think about whether another Apprenticeship might be able to fill them. There are now 1,500 job roles available, with Apprenticeships covering areas like customer service, project management, fundraising and enterprise. NAW can help you learn more about whether your people and your business would benefit from any of them.

Even if you decide you’re unable to take on another apprentice, the process won’t have been pointless. You’ll have identified professional, technical and clerical opportunities for improvement.

Up-skill your workforce

Most people think of Apprenticeships as training for young, new recruits. They forget that an existing employee, whatever their age, is also eligible to become an apprentice.

So once you have identified a need within your business for an apprentice, and you have the time and resources to make it successful, before you advertise a vacancy, talk to your employees first to find out if anyone has the appetite and determination to up-skill.

Suggest that they watch some of the videos on apprentice.tv, get inspired by the Prime Minister’s Pinterest board of ‘Made by Apprentices’ (your existing apprentices can appear on here using #Madebyapprentices), and perhaps attend a local event organised by your chosen Apprenticeship Training Organisation.

Raise your profile

If you have an apprentice, promoting the great work they do can help raise your profile. An article on your website, in your newsleter and even in your local newspaper will result in better awareness of your business. The NAS has provided example web copy and all sorts of other useful resources to help you tell people about it.

If you’re active on social media, and your apprentices are too, start using the hashtags #apprenticeships and #NAW2014 now. If they’re retweeted by the NAS, that has almost 25,000 followers, or indeed by anyone else wanting to raise the profile of apprentices (which includes the Prime Minister, the Major of London and the FSB), you will be promoting your business to a huge audience.


Schools, colleges, training organisations, education authorities and businesses host a variety of events to help celebrate Apprenticeships. In 2013, there were almost 1,000 events across Britain.

609 events are already planned for 2014 and include meet the employer events, job fairs, made by apprentice exhibitions and job swaps. With more than 200,000 workplaces across England offering apprenticeships, you immediately have a network of like-minded organisations that you can link with.

You could always get in touch with other businesses in your community that don’t employ apprentices and invite them to meet your rising stars and find out about their contributions to your business. This will not only do your bit for the Apprenticeship movement and hopefully provide other wanna-be apprentices with a future, but will also help your business forge relationships that could ultimately bring in work.

If that all seems rather daunting, at the very least you could talk to your Apprenticeship Training Organisation and contribute to the events they are hosting as part of NAW. Representation at a job fair, a position on a panel of employers showcasing Apprenticeships, or simply a talk at a local school, could all return both short and long term benefits for your business.

Inspire the future

A recent Premierline poll found that 51% of British small business owners feel that they are responsible for helping inspire the next generation to become successful in business. What better way to do this than giving an apprentice the skills they need to be a success in whatever they chose to do with their career.

Not taken on an apprentice before?

If you’re thinking about hiring an apprentice or one of your employees is interested in doing one, read ‘An SME’s guide to employing an apprentice’ to find out how it might benefit your business.

Or if you’re interested in taking on a trainee, read our blog ‘Youth unemployment – how small businesses can help’

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