“Growing your own” applies to more than just fruit and veg

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Some things are just better when you’ve done them yourself. You know where they started, you know how much effort has been put in and you can make sure they develop as you want and need them too. But, while many seem willing and able to accept these principles when it comes to what we put on our plates, we’re a lot less sure when it comes to who we allow in our businesses. Apprenticeships – the workplace equivalent of “grow your own” – have been suffering from somewhat of an image crisis over the past few years with many, especially SMEs, preferring to recruit from the graduate talent pool than invest in a novice. The Government recently asked jewellery entrepreneur Jason Holt to conduct a review of the Apprenticeship Scheme to find out why. What he found was that fewer than 10% of SMEs were employing apprentices – that’s less than half the proportion of larger firms doing so. He went on to highlight issues around accessibility, a misplaced emphasis on providers rather than the employers and apprentices and a need for the employers to have more control over both the allocation of funding and the content of apprenticeship schemes. Thankfully all those issues have been recognised and accepted by the Government who appear to be taking steps to improve things. But even if all of that was perfected, the issue of image remains. Whatever they do to the processes, accessibility and funding, if businesses don’t see the value of taking on an apprentice, it won’t make a scrap of difference. So why should SME’s consider taking on an apprentice?
  • Filling the skills gap Small business can be as diverse as the individuals that started them. The skill sets required could be varied, rare or so specialized that a standard degree or other academic training simply won’t prepare someone for them. By picking someone to train in-house you can ensure they gain the range of skills and knowledge you need them to have.

  • Cost effective way to grow your business For many small business, taking on employees is a huge decision and one of the biggest considerations is the financial implications. Taking on an apprentice is certainly cheaper than taking on a skilled worker, but it’s also less risky as they are less likely to leave. Yes, there is always a fear that they may drop out or join another company after their training has finished but in reality those risks apply to all employees. If anything the risk is lessened by the fact that the apprentice will be invested in your company – it’s you who gave them the chance, it’s you who put the time, effort and money into their training and it’s likely that it’s you that will have their loyalty and commitment.

  • A bespoke employee Finding the perfect employee can be hard. Not only are you going to be looking for someone with the right range of skills, who is willing to work for what you’re willing to pay, understands and appreciates your core values and mission and gets along with the rest of your team. But if you start from scratch, you get the chance to nurture all of that, apprentices can come with no pre-conceptions, just an open mind and an enthusiasm for the job ahead.
Sounds pretty good right?

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