Across the UK SMEs are struggling to find the right staff to accommodate their business due to a shortage of the skills required to fulfil a position at firms. Because of this, SMEs are panicking, so why not look at other options? This is where apprenticeships come in. An apprentice has interest and perhaps a little experience but what they don’t have is the full knowledge of being part of an organisation where everything is a significant stepping stone to the growth of the business.
However, it is known that time is also very important to an SME and hiring an apprentice can take a lot of time and dedication as well as training, management and support which may put small to medium-sized businesses off hiring. Getting involved with an apprenticeship requires a lot of research because it is not as straightforward as placing an advert and receiving a CV back. Most apprenticeships are run through educational agencies, this is because as well as the apprentice learning on the job they will also finish their course with a qualification. Some apprenticeships are more physical whereas some are more vocational – regardless of the setting they usually last for a year and then it is up to the employer to continue their employment.
So what do you need to know when hiring an apprentice?
Apprentices have the ability to go far, but as the age of an apprentice can start at 16 they do need steering in the right direction about what to do and how to advance within the sector they have chosen. So, if your business is taking an apprentice on board it is important to have someone there available to train and support them, especially through the early stages, hopefully after their settling in period finishes they will begin to use their own initiative and do things independently.
Motivate yourself and your apprentice
You may come to realise that once you have hired an apprentice you will begin to gain momentum yourself to learn about things they know inside out. For example, many business owners struggle to use social media as the benefits of using it within a business are fairly new, but with an apprentice of such a young age they live and breath social media which you should rightly use to your advantage. Ask them to show you the ways in which it works and how it can help your business grow.
Whether positive or negative, feedback is key to any role in every situation. Feedback helps a person grow, it defines their strengths but also their weaknesses which ultimately clears the right path the apprentice wants to go down. Generally, when an apprentice is taken on they are showed all roles within the business, and the mentor will choose which direction their main focus should be concentrated on, and that is why it is extremely important to pass feedback on whether negative or positive.
Make them feel responsible
If you want your apprentice to treat their role as a career rather than just a job, then you must make them feel apart of the team. Giving them responsibility means that they will want to perform well and take their job seriously because it is now their responsibility to perform well in the specific area that you have given them. With responsibility hopefully comes passion which encourages a person to strive to preform well. Passion and respect is what makes an employee come back, so don’t forget that.
Respect them enough to give them notice
When you hire an apprentice, their contract only lasts as long as their course does – generally they are for one year. Once completed, you do not have any obligation to keep them on. However, in many cases the employer will decide to keep them on because of all their efforts given throughout the duration of them learning as well as progressing.
So are you tempted to hire an apprentice? Let us know in the comments below!