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Creating Your Own Apprentice Jobs29th August 2012, 09:37
Apprenticeships combine intensive on-the-job training with study towards a work-based qualification like a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ), and are a great option for those who feel they learn better by ‘doing’ than through academia. Apprentices spend most of their time in an apprentice job being mentored by experienced practitioners in the field they hope to break into, and are paid at least £2.60 per hour – rising to £2.65 per hour from 1 October 2012 – for a minimum of 30 hours’ work per week (or, if the apprentice is unable to complete the 30 hours, a minimum of 16).
Despite the popularity of apprenticeships – which are increasingly recognised as the ‘gold standard’ in work-based training – you may run into obstacles while trying to find the right one for you. In the current economic climate, it may be the case that fewer employers are keen to take on an apprentice, despite the fact that the costs to them are relatively low and that, in most cases, they receive funding. Alternatively, although there are more than 100,000 employers currently offering apprenticeships in more than 160,000 locations, you may be struggling to find something in your area that suits your interests and career plans. How do you persuade an employer that doesn’t currently run an apprenticeship scheme to start doing so – and that you should be their first recruit?
You can tackle these problems with persuasive statistics, and by presenting yourself as an indispensable asset to the company you’re approaching. Start by emphasising just how much an employer stands to benefit from taking you on, in comparison to the relatively low cost of doing so. An employer taking on an apprentice aged 16-18 need only cover their salary, not the cost of their training (this is covered by the government). For a 19-24 year old, the employer may receive up to 50 per cent of the training costs. In addition, up to 40,000 grants of £1,500 are provided by the National Apprenticeship Service to small-medium sized employers in order to encourage them to take on apprentices. Ask the company you want to work for to find out if they are eligible for this.
When research reveals that 92 per cent of employers who hire apprentices believe that apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce – and that one in five employers are actually taking on more apprentices to help them through the tough economic climate, not fewer – you should be able to convince an employer that they can’t afford not to take you on.
Statistics alone won’t be enough, of course – an apprenticeship is a two-way relationship, and you will need to demonstrate to your prospective employer that you will be of value to their company. As you would when preparing for a job interview or pitch, think about the experience and skills that have already accrued and be able to discuss them confidently. If you’re applying for a role within a creative or digital industry, why not put together a smart portfolio of your previous work that you can take in to show employers? Or, if you’re angling for an apprenticeship within health and social care, prepare to talk about any voluntary work you may have done. Whatever company you’re approaching, make sure to have a couple of testimonials from people you’ve worked with or volunteered for in the past to be able to demonstrate that you’ve already proved yourself to others.