Are apprentices an asset to business?

At the Solent Apprenticeship Hub, we strongly believe that apprentices are an asset to business. However, our advisers meet with a number of business owners who believe that taking on an apprentice or training their current staff through apprenticeship programmes will not be particularly beneficial to them for reasons such as: lack of return on investment, or failure to see a positive impact quickly. These are both myths that we at the Hub wish to dispel, and instead hope we can provide you with a fact-based handful of reasons why apprenticeship programmes will transform your business in a positive way.

Upskilling your workforce by taking on an apprentice is a wise move for businesses. Either recruiting an apprentice externally and training them up within your business, or choosing to upskill or reskill a current employee will have a very positive impact on your business in the long term. In fact according to a study by the NAS, employers with an established apprenticeship programme reported a 76% increase in productivity as a direct result, and it’s hard to ignore statistics such as this.

‘But they cost too much’ or ‘It will take too long to see any results’ or even ‘my staff are too old or too experienced for apprenticeships’ are the responses regularly thrown back when an employer is asked if they have considered apprenticeship programmes. However, you could be really surprised at how low the cost to your business could be, the length of an apprenticeship and who is eligible to enrol on one.


So let’s first address the aforementioned cost conundrum of apprenticeships. The cost to an employer of training up an apprentice depends entirely on the course they are looking at for the apprentice and the size of their business.

For businesses with a salary bill of under £3m with fewer than 50 employees – the cost for a 16-18 year old apprentice is FREE to you – and for 19+ only pay 5% of the overall cost of the training. For example, a £5000 Business Administration Level 3 course for this size of business, would cost only £250 so the potential for return on investment for a business such as this is very high. A Senior Leaders Level 7 Master’s Degree course which would ordinarily cost £18,000 would cost just £900 for a business of this size and the level of skill and knowledge this adds to your workforce is phenomenal.

A business with a salary bill of below £3m and with more than 50 employees – the cost is again, 5% of the total training cost – there is also a cash incentive of £1000 to any organisation for employing an apprentice aged between 16-18.

For businesses with more than 50 employees and with a salary bill of over £3m they will already be paying 0.5% into a training Levy fund. This kind of employer will have to pay the full amount but as it is compulsory to pay into the levy anyway, why not utilise this by investing in your business to train up your staff or upskill your workforce with an apprenticeship programme? There is also still the £1000 cash incentive for employing an apprentice aged between 16- 18.

Still feeling undecided on the issue of cost? It is estimated for every £1 that an apprentice will cost to a business, the apprentice will contribute £28 to the business – It is difficult to deny that this is a fantastic return on investment and further evidence that apprentices are an asset to business.

Too much time to train

The length of the training period often deters employers as they believe that too much time will be used to train an apprentice. Generally however, an apprentice will only be out of the workplace one day a week with a training provider or college and the rest of the time can learn on the job in the workplace. The full length that an apprenticeship will last is also dependent on the course, however many business related level 3 courses such as Digital Marketing or Accounting are only 18 months long – and after this the employee will have a higher qualification, adding a greater value to your business.


Apprenticeships are often associated with being for younger candidates as you are eligible for an apprenticeship from the age of 16. However, apprenticeships can be taken at any age and with a wide range of current skill level and qualification. This is due to the many different levels of apprenticeships on offer, for example level 6 qualifications are degree level apprenticeships and level 7 qualifications are master’s level. So if you wish, you could put a suitable current employee on an apprenticeship to upskill your workforce and bring new industry skills and knowledge to your business which can be a massive asset.

Training and recruitment

Other benefits to a business of hiring an apprentice include factors such as reduced recruitment costs. A Populus conducted study in 2008 reported 80% of employers asked felt that apprenticeships reduced their staff turnover, therefore reducing their costs. The study also found that 88% of employers also believe that hiring apprentices also increases motivation and satisfaction levels among their staff. Over three-quarters of respondents in this study also said that they would definitely expect apprenticeships to play a far larger role in their future recruitment, due to their cost-effectiveness in terms of recruitment and increase in productivity within the organisation.

After being introduced to the many options and possibilities that hiring an apprentice could open to you, can you afford not to investigate how this could benefit your business? To see an exhaustive list of the apprenticeship standards currently on offer as well as in the development stage, go to the Institute for Apprenticeships. If you still have questions or would like to know more about a particular course or what kind of apprentice would be an asset to your business, then please email us at:, give us a call on 02392 688055 or visit our website and social media pages linked below.