Apprenticeships – the legal stuff

With the skills shortage still in full swing, many companies are looking to apprenticeships to help plug the skills gap and inject new energy into their businesses.

I mean, what could be better than home grown talent that you help to train and mould exactly in the way you want?

There’s no doubt that hiring an apprentice is a shrewd move with tons of benefits for both the employer and apprentice – but before you go advertising for your new employee it pays to take a minute to discover the legal points you need to check off your list to avoid problems later on down the line.

Although the points I’m going to discuss shortly seem like common sense, a recent Government report highlighted that some employers aren’t handling their apprenticeship schemes very well. I was amazed to hear that 22% of apprentices weren’t receiving the correct pay rates, some didn’t know what apprenticeship they were actually on and a small percentage weren’t event aware that they were part of an apprenticeship scheme at all! Madness!

So what exactly do you need to bear in mind when you’re thinking of opening up an apprenticeship opportunity? Here’s the legal stuff:

• Apprentices must be aged 16 or over, and combine working with a work-related qualification – which could be anything from a GCSE right through to a degree
• Apprentices can be new or current employees
• You must pay at least minimum wage
• If you’re in England or Wales, you may be able to get funding for your new apprenticeship scheme

You’ve also got to make sure that you’ve got the time and resources to allow your apprentice to work alongside experienced members of staff, learn job-specific skills, and be given time during their working week to study, e.g. at a local college or via in-house training.

And don’t think that apprenticeships are just for school leavers. Many senior level employees started out on an apprenticeship scheme a little later in life and the majority have stayed in their company whilst steadily working their way up the corporate ladder.

For more information on apprenticeships or to discuss suitable candidates registered with us, feel free to pick up the phone for a free, no obligation consultation with a member of our team.