The arrival of my new grandson a few weeks ago was a really exciting time for our family and although I jokingly called him the new Pixie Payroll apprentice, it got me thinking about the next generation and apprenticeships in particular.

The good news is that there’s never been as much help and support for employers who take on an apprentice as there is now so it’s a great time to think about it.

Recruiting an apprentice

You can take on an apprentice for many areas of your business; it doesn’t just have to be a trade role like in history – apprenticeships have evolved with the needs of modern businesses so they now cover areas such as marketing or technology.

The definition of an apprentice is someone who spends 80% of their time in the business and 20% of their time at off-the-job training. Apprentices are typically young but they don’t have to be – there is no maximum age for an apprentice so they’re also ideal for those looking for a mid-life career change. The apprentice will develop skills, knowledge and experience in their chosen field whilst earning a wage and contributing to your business.

The first step on an employers’ apprenticeship journey is to identify where you have skills gaps in your business or where you anticipate you might have skills shortages in the near future. Write a job description for that role and then you can start to look for suitable training providers. Once that’s in place, you can advertise your vacancy.

Then it’s also a good idea to appoint a mentor from within the business who can pass on skills to the apprentice outside of the classroom. You’ll need a contract of employment ready for their first day as well as a plan of on-the-job learning with milestones.

Funding for apprenticeships

The good news is that there is funding available to support your apprentice recruitment and training.

If your total wage bill is less that £3m, you will only pay 5% of the training costs with the government paying 95%. You can apply to Cornwall Council for that to be increased to 100% of the training costs being covered. Small employers – those with less than 50 employees – won’t pay anything if they take on young apprentices or care leavers up to 25 years.

If the apprentice is under 25, there will be no employers’ National Insurance liability on their wages. There is also a special apprentice rate in the National Minimum Wage of £4.30ph which is managed through your payroll in the normal way.

There is also currently a scheme in place where employers receive a £3,000 bonus for taking on an apprentice but this ends on 30th September 2021 so there is little time now to take advantage of that.

More help and support If you think an apprentice is the right thing for you, get in touch with Cornwall Apprenticeships here – they’ll be able to help with funding queries, finding training providers and advertising your vacancy.