Valuing apprenticeships

How your business can learn to value apprenticeships

It is often said that the success of any business is in the hands of its staff. Having employees with the right skills can make all the difference to whether your business does well or flounders. However, finding the right people is often one of the most time-consuming aspects of any manager's job.

Apprenticeships offer businesses of any size the chance to introduce new talent to their organisation, with the opportunity to develop required skills, knowledge and behaviour, leading to nationally recognised qualifications. This can be as valuable to your organisation as it is to the employees. Apprenticeships can also be an effective way of enhancing the skills of your existing team.

Statistics show that apprenticeship programmes are gaining in popularity. For the 2018-2019 academic year, there were 219,800 apprenticeship commitments, compared to 180,000 for the year before, according to the Department for Education's provisional statistics. They're also an important part of strengthening the labour market as a whole;  apprenticeships are expected to contribute £3.4 billion to the UK economy by 2022.

And they aren't just for young people. Apprenticeships are available to anyone, of any age. For example, 65% of E.ON’s apprentices are over the age of 25. 

Tips and advice on offering apprenticeships

Here are a few more reasons you might want to consider offering apprenticeships in your organisation if you don’t already.

• Depending on eligibility, the Government can potentially cover much of the cost of training for an apprentice via the apprenticeship levy. This is a cost-effective way of developing the skills and talent of an individual who has the potential to become an important part of your team.

• A chance to mentor an apprentice can be a real source of motivation for others. At E.ON we have found that colleagues have jumped at the chance to share their knowledge and experience with our apprentices, especially those who have completed an apprenticeship themselves.

• Customers and clients want to support and work with organisations that are doing their best to support society, and that includes giving opportunities to young people.

• You don't need to employ an apprentice full time. They need to be with you for a minimum of 16 hours a week, though most employers have them on a full-time basis.

The E.ON way

At E.ON, we currently have over 400 colleagues completing apprenticeships. Some have recently joined and are starting their career journey with us, others are completing apprenticeships to support their own personal development. During 2019 we will welcome 50 new colleagues through apprenticeship schemes.

Understanding that one size doesn't fit all, we offer several different types of programmes. In March, seven colleagues started the first degree level apprenticeship at E.ON, studying for a B2B Sales Degree Apprenticeship together with Leeds Trinity University.

We are also pioneering the latest types of apprenticeships. Earlier this year, 26 people joined the business as Sales Executive Apprentices, the first ever scheme like this in the country.

We believe it's because of these efforts that we were named the third Best Apprentice Employer in the East Midlands in July, and climbed 32 places from last year to finish 67th in the Top 100 Apprentice Employers table in the UK.

And our expertise has led to the appointment of our Director of Health, Safety, Security and Environment, Nicola Johnson, to the Institute for Apprenticeship and Technical Education's Engineering and Manufacturing Route Panel. In this role, Nicola shapes, supports and advises on the development of qualifications that will help grow and nurture critical skills for the future success of our industry.

For more information, you can look on the Apprenticeship Service website. It has a tool allowing you to search for your local learning providers who offer the training that you require for your apprentice. They also have an employer enquiry form if you require further help.