Wednesday, 6 January 2010

I am a child of the 60’s (which probably accounts for a lot of things!) and I can remember by Dad telling me all about how he toiled to become a Chef through learning the hard way. You know, the way Dads tend to go on…By working his way up through the ranks. Blood, sweat and tears, my boy, a real hard graft, doing something called an apprenticeship.

Now, apprenticeships are back, are easier than ever for employers to manage and easy to sign up for.

The Council has committed over the next couple of years to take on 750 new apprentices and so have many other businesses in B&D.

But, I hear you ask, what’s in it for me and my business?

Do I need to take on a kid to work in my business?

Firstly, let’s burst that bubble of perception about apprentices. They’re not all spotty sixteen year olds on building sites, making tea, schlepping bricks and cleaning out the loos. Nowadays, you can take on an apprentice up to the age of 51 ! So you can take on real people with real life skills, knowledge of the real world and often those with a real need to work.

But I’m not in construction….what apprentice can I take on?

I said its not just about building sites! Apprenticeships are designed by employers for employers and are tailor-made for each sector so the likelihood is when you can take someone on, they’ll work alongside you, learn the ropes the way you want them to and get relevant job-related skills that you know will add value to your business.

OK so what industries suit apprentices?

Pretty much all industries. Anything from retailing to catering. From Healthcare to IT and from farming to engineering

All sound simple so far, but what’s it going to cost me?

All you agree to is to employ your apprentice for a minimum of one year, pay no less than the minimum wage for four days per week and agree to send your new colleague to study one day a week to hone their newly-developing skills. As I said before, the courses have been designed by employers for employers so they aimed at the right level for the right people.

So what will they be studying?

Your commitment to taking on an apprentice will allow them to gain new nationally recognised qualification in the subject you think is relevant.

What else will I need to do that will impact on my business?

Just be supportive ! Your apprentice is keen to learn! They’ll have some work to do whilst their on-the-job and you’ll need to let their learning supervisors visit them at work on a regular basis but other than that, its pretty much like employing any other person.

Am I going to be forced to take on someone I don’t like as an apprentice?

Essentially, the apprentice is your member of staff and employed by you to do the things you want them to do. All prospective apprentices are pre-screened to make sure they’re fit for work and you’re given a selection of candidates to interview before you take on your apprentice. Its your businesses so its your decision !

OK, I think you’ve sold it to me ! So how do I get an apprentice?

First thing to do is call in and see us here at the Barking & Dagenham Small Business Centre. Book an appointment for one of our free business reviews to make sure you’ve got all bases covered regarding your business plan and your business strategy for the future. We’ll let you have some info packs and then put you in touch with some real specialists in apprenticeships who will tell you how it works in more detail than we could !

Now is a probably the best time to sign up for an apprentice. By committing to developing the skills of your colleagues, you must make sure your business is ready to leap ahead of the competition when the economic climate starts to get better. And the best way to do that is to invest in your team TODAY !

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