HOW TO BENEFIT FROM APPRENTICESHIPS

Standfirst: How subsidised staff can help you to thrive in those early days.

So, you’ve started up your business and you’re about to embark on your new adventure, but you need people to help you do it. The trouble is, you don’t have much money to play with.

MANAGING YOUR STAFF

A business lives or dies by the people it has at its disposal, especially in those early days. People in small teams will play an important role in the success, or otherwise, of a business. Some entrepreneurs seek to save costs by going it alone, but more often than not that’s a recipe for disaster. You’ll be swamped with boring admin and you’ll take your eye off the more important matter of growing your business.

One solution lies in finding ways to subsidise your staffing costs and one good solution lies in the use of apprenticeships.

USING APPRENTICESHIPS

Recent figures show the number of apprenticeships growing as choices increase for students and school-leavers. The Government is investing billions in schemes and grants to make it easier for businesses to take on apprentices.

They’re available around the country and are a good source of promising and talented workers where you have an appropriate role. They will be trained as part of their role and receive a much lower salary of £2.73 per hour in their first year, although if they are over 19 this will rise to the minimum wage in the second year.

However, this is not just a source of cheap labour – it’s a two-way street in which they benefit from on the job education in return for their labour. You will have a responsibility to provide them training and to ensure their apprenticeship is worthwhile from their point of view.

They will obviously be lacking in terms of skills and experience. At most they will be trained to NVQ Level 4 or a Foundation Degree and they will just be starting out. Many employees have complained about what they perceive to be the drawbacks of younger workers and those on apprenticeships, but that misses the point.

Yes, there is no substitute for experience, but young people bring fresh thinking and new ideas. They are not burdened down by their past experience or set in their ways. They are used to working with technology and are more open to change and innovation than older workers who have become accustomed to certain ways of working.

A fresh approach brings fresh eyes which can spot problems or opportunities in your business. Education is a two-way street and it’s worth being open to things you can learn from them. Encourage them to have an input in the business – they might spot something you’ve missed.

They are talented and eager to learn and come bristling with potential. The value they bring to your enterprise, therefore, can sometimes depend on you. If you train them well and provide a clear path of development they can help drive your enterprise forward in ways you might not have imagined.

They can be particularly successful in a start-up environment. The chance to be an integral part of a growing and thriving business, where their talents can really make a difference is an enormous opportunity for someone starting out in their career, and it’s one which most will be eager to grasp with both hands.