The hidden benefits of taking on an apprentice as an SME



Start-ups and SMEs may feel under pressure, or confined by their workloads, especially a start-up which booms and needs to take action to rapidly expand in order to meet demand.

Having appropriately trained staff is a must but apprentices shouldn’t be brushed aside without thought. As it happens, the benefits of taking on an apprentice as an SME could outweigh the costs involved in taking on an experienced member of staff.

There are a number of ‘hidden’ benefits that apprentices can bring to an SME that a larger corporate organisation wouldn’t have the same experience of:

Grow your perfect employee from the start

It’s no secret that the best employees are individuals who believe in the business and the work they are carrying out. Bringing in an apprentice during the initial years of a business provides the opportunity to shape the person into the perfect employee for the company.

Within a larger organisation there’s a high possibility that an apprentice will simply get lost in the numbers, delegated to a line manager who is already dealing with existing employees.

Increased productivity

A government survey this year revealed that three in four SMEs report seeing an increase in productivity and results as an outcome of taking on an apprentice. While many SME owners may view apprentices as a distraction requiring attention they can actually provide a much needed fresh opinion to a small business with limited points of view.

Digital natives plug the digital skills gap

The widely reported digital skills gap still exists, while measures have been taken to help close the chasm through training there’s still a generation of workers who struggle with even simple digital tasks. By hiring a younger apprentice you are also bringing in a digital native, someone who has grown up surrounded by technology. While they still require training in the business sense they are typically much faster learners compared to older generations.

Changes to system will benefit employers

The well-publicised Apprenticeship Levy was introduced in April with the funding becoming accessible in May. For small businesses with revenues under £3m this means 90 per cent of an apprentice’s training will be funded by the Government while training for apprentices at businesses with fewer than 50 employees will be fully funded with the company receiving £1,000.

Gain a well-rounded employee

As a smaller business, those taking their apprenticeship with you are more likely to help out with multiple aspects of your work, providing them with the chance to learn about the business from top to bottom and gaining experience in a variety of areas while specialising in one.

Grow alongside each other

You don’t want to remain a small business forever; chances are you founded your company with lofty ambitions and dreams of making it big. Every juggernaut begins somewhere, and every Apple had its first employees which stuck around and grew with the firm. Taking on an ambitious, enthusiastic apprentice gaining professional qualifications can provide a greater benefit to your business as opposed to a low paid employee suffering from a lack of morale without the same opportunities.

Michael O’Flynn, Sales & Marketing Director at Professional Academy