Apprentices can become a great asset to your company, as they increase the capacity and get trained to support the specific needs of your firm. Plus research conducted by the Cross-Industry Construction Apprenticeship Task Force (CCATF) shows that 80% of clients favour firms which train apprentices.
You first need to choose the apprenticeship standard which will train the person in the skills your company needs to grow. Use the Government’s search engine tool to identify which frameworks deliver these. Small building firms typically train apprentices to a Level 3 (Advanced) standard so the individual has a broad array of knowledge and skills by the end of their apprenticeships.
Once you’ve chosen a standard, find a college in your local area which delivers this. The apprentice will usually study on ‘day release’ where one day a week is spent at college, and the rest of the time is spent learning on site. However, for those in more remote locations, ‘block release’ or training at your firm’s location, is also available.
Colleges, training providers or the awarding body will typically provide employers with all the information on what the apprentice should be taught to be able to complete progress reviews and assessments during the process. For example, if you take on apprentices through the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), you will have a dedicated apprenticeship officer to guide you through the course content and paperwork. Some colleges also support employers with the associated paperwork. They will also let you know about which short training courses are required, which could include health and safety.
Apprentices can be existing employees or a new recruit. Advertise your vacancy on the Government portal. You can also make use of advertising opportunities in your area such as via your local colleges, local newspapers or by word of mouth. Alternatively, you can offer a work experience placement through the training provider or on the GoConstruct website, which is aimed at young people considering a career in construction.
Training can last for any amount of time between one and five years. In addition, apprentices must be paid at least the minimum wage and be offered the same conditions as other employees working at a similar grade or in a similar role in your company.
In England, most construction firms/SME’s will not pay the UK Apprenticeship Levy, so you will only be required to pay 10% (and from April 2019 this will reduce to 5%) of the costs associated with training and assessing apprentices, and the UK Government will cover the rest. If your apprentice is under 18, there is no associated cost.
Employers taking on an apprentice for the first time could also be eligible for the Apprenticeship Small Business Employer Incentive Programme. The CITB also offers grants to firms which are CITB-registered. Speak with your chosen training provider and they will help you access funding.
During the sign-up process, representatives from the college or the awarding body will let you know which bits of paperwork you need to complete. There will be forms requiring signatures throughout the process.
Employers taking on apprentices who are under the age of 18 may need to complete a DBS check but this is dependent on their company policy. The employer would need to ensure that their Employer Liability insurance covers apprentices.
Taking on an apprentice should be a positive experience for you and your business and the training providers are there to help at all stages. Speak to them, talk through any concerns and questions you have and start passing on your experience to the next generation.
Hudson Contract has helped over 100 firms take on apprentices since 2011, you can read about their experiences here.
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