Apprenticeships are a vital part of the business world. They not only give people their first step on the career ladder, but they also provide companies with young minds and the means to find new levels of success. Employing an apprentice is very different from taking on a regular employee, so it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the process.

In the digital age, modern technology has become an essential part of society, and the most notable impact is undoubtedly the transformation of the business world. For companies to succeed in a highly competitive market, it’s essential for them to embrace creativity and innovation — and what better way to do so than by introducing a young mind into the workplace?

Taking on an apprentice differs in a few ways from hiring an employee, as apprentices need more in the way of training, funding and on-the-job guidance. Here are a few things you should know about hiring an apprentice.

1. The Apprenticeship Levy Fund (U.K. Employers)

An apprentice is a business investment and, therefore, requires funding for necessary training and development. In the U.K., the structure of apprenticeship funding has changed over the last couple of years with the introduction of the apprenticeship levy. The levy is a plan put in place by the government to create over three million new apprenticeships by 2020 by encouraging employers to hire apprentices.

If the annual wage bill of your business is more than £3 million, you will have to pay the apprenticeship levy (0.5 percent of your wage bill). Employers are given an allowance of £15,000 toward the amount they have to pay. If the wage bill is less than £3 million, you aren’t required to pay the levy. Instead, the government contributes 90 percent of the cost of apprentice training, leaving you to cover the remaining 10 percent.

2. Apprentices Have a Positive Influence on the Workplace.

A recent study by the U.K. Department for Education revealed that 75 percent of small and medium businesses employing an apprentice experienced increased productivity. The study found a variety of other benefits, including:

  • Improved staff morale
  • Enhanced product or service quality
  • The introduction of fresh ideas
  • Better staff retention
  • A greater chance of attracting quality staff
  • Improved company image
  • Lower wage bill

These benefits are evidence of how the enthusiasm and diligent nature of an apprentice can make him or her an asset to your business and a positive influence on the company and its employees.

3. You’ll Benefit From a Recruitment Consultation.

While there’s no doubt that there are thousands of young people out there looking for a career, it doesn’t mean that they’ll come knocking on your door anytime soon. Recruitment is vital to find the perfect apprentice for your business, and one efficient way to find suitable candidates is a recruitment consultation. Representatives from an apprentice recruitment and training company will familiarize themselves with your company and create a recruitment campaign that coincides with your goals, proposed training and placement of the apprentice.

4. You Can Use the Funds to Upskill Current Employees.

Apprentices aren’t the only ones who can benefit from the training and funding of an apprenticeship. In fact, you can use the apprenticeship levy fund to upskill your current employees, whether it’s to enhance their knowledge and progress in their current role or to help them move up the ladder into managerial positions.

Every company is different, so whether you choose to upskill current employees or recruit an entry-level apprentice will depend on your needs as a business. For example, if you currently have no vacancies on your team, it may be in your best interests to provide further training for employees. By doing so, you could also open up some lower-level positions and make room for an apprentice to step in.