With a huge skills shortage in the UK, as well as an ageing workforce and costs of recruitment skyrocketing, now is the time to consider taking on the next generation of skilled tradespeople – apprentices. From the myths and benefits around hiring young workers through to the funding you can get from the Government, Nikki Cowan, Business Development Advisor at JTL, discusses everything you need to know.
The current skills shortage
According to a report  commissioned by The Open University in 2018, the majority of organisations in the UK (91%) struggled to find workers with the right skills over a 12-month period.
The open University Business Barometer, which monitors the skills landscape of the UK, revealed that employers are paying a high price to ensure their organisations have the skills required to remain productive, with the shortfall now costing an extra £6.33 billion a year in recruitment fees, inflated salaries, temporary staff and training for workers hired at a lower level than intended.
Many senior business leaders (70%) have found that the recruitment process is taking longer by an average of one month and 22 days. As a result, nearly two in three (64%) report spending more on recruitment, with costs increasing by 49 per cent or £1.23 billion in total.
The skills shortage is even more prevalent in the construction industry. It was revealed by City & Guilds  that 87% of employers in 2018 were struggling to get hold of the necessary number of skilled workers. According to Construction News , 3 in 10 British-born construction workers are over 50 years old and edging towards retirement.
Dispelling the myths
One way to combat the skills shortage is having more apprentices in the industry. However, there are a number of myths that are deterring businesses from taking young workers on.
Some people believe that because apprentices are young, they’ll lack motivation. This simply isn’t the case. JTL ensures all recommended apprentices have undertaken a rigorous entry assessment, so we know they’re serious about learning a trade. Pass rates are consistently higher than the national average, meaning we produce quality, dedicated tradespeople of the future.
But what if once the apprentice achieves their skills, they set up on their own? Encouragingly, an Independent UK Government study revealed that 1/3 of businesses found their apprentices to be more loyal than other members of staff. Ultimately, apprenticeships provide opportunities to create strong working relationships, allowing you to grow your business from the bottom up.
How JTL can help you
Many people are concerned that apprenticeships are difficult to manage and take up too much time. JTL is on hand every step of the way; assigning each business a dedicated training officer who stays with you and your apprentice throughout the qualification process. JTL also has a dedicated national customer service unit with experts available to answer any queries or questions you may have.
The first thing to do, if you’re thinking of taking on an apprentice, is to contact JTL, who can then arrange for a training officer to visit you. They’ll talk you through the process of taking on an apprentice and help you decide whether it’s right for your business.
Benefits to your business
Need proof of the benefits? Redrow, a leading UK housebuilder, released its second annual research report which revealed that, thanks to a positive shift in attitudes and the perception of construction, the apprenticeship pathway has improved, with a 14% increase in young people considering a career in the sector.
Karen Jones, Redrow’s Group HR Director, spoke on the report and said, “These results illustrate that apprenticeships and careers in construction are being viewed in a more positive light.
“Apprenticeships are a way of futureproofing the UK workforce, particularly in sectors where there is a skills shortage, such as construction, so it is pleasing to see that progress is being made.”
UK Construction Media  found that a whopping 86% of employers say that apprenticeships are helping them develop skills relevant to their organisation, and 78% believe they help improve productivity.
Government funding support
In April 2017, the government introduced the apprenticeship levy, a compulsory tax on employers to help fund the development and delivery of apprenticeships, with the aim of improving the quality and quantity of those available.
Employers with a paybill of more than £3 million are required to pay the levy, whether they employ an apprentice or not. The levy amount payable is calculated at 0.5% of a business’ paybill and all employers get a £15,000 allowance to offset against the amount they have to pay.
Employers then have direct control over how they spend their apprenticeship training funding. It can go towards everything from e-learning and assessments to off-the-job training and accommodation costs for residential modules.
It doesn’t stop there. SMEs can also receive up to £1000 money back in instalments in the first year when taking on a 16-18 year old. Plus, if you take on an apprentice aged 19 or over, you pay only 5% of the training fees over a four-year period.
Discover more about the different funding models across England and Wales, as well as the apprenticeship levy, here.
Taking on a trainee
A JTL apprenticeship provides a solid foundation, equipping a young person with the necessary skills to go on to achieve their full potential.
Unlike past programmes which gave ill-prepared work experience to young people who often lacked interest and motivation, a JTL Traineeship ensures that trainees cover work preparation studies and gain a basic knowledge of the building services industry in a rewarding environment.
Following preparation studies training, learners are allowed to complete four weeks of working alongside a local employer. As an employer taking on a trainee, you will pay nothing towards the cost but are expected to help develop the young person, so they are ready for work. We have found many employers at the end of the programme have been so impressed by the young person’s willingness to learn that they have actively encouraged their trainee to take up an apprenticeship with us.
Find out more about our range of apprenticeships and how to apply here.