Want to be a better employer of apprentices?

Want to be a better employer of apprentices?

  • Published on Monday 29 June, 2015
  • 3 min. to read


Based on reports from the National Centre of Vocational Education Research over many years, it has become clear with some exceptions, a number of business factors appear to influence the outcome of apprenticeships.
Those employers that have been in business for 10 or more years are far more likely to retain their apprentices and get them through to completion because they tend to learn from their mistakes and listen to advice.
Those employers who have been in business for less than five years are more likely to achieve low retention rates.
Whereas over 95% of interviewed employers rate themselves as a good boss; unfortunately apprentices don’t agree – less than 75% say they have a good boss and in some groups this is as low as 49%.
Current apprentices don’t respond well to employers who say ‘I learned that way so that’s how you’ll learn’. In some cases, it seems to lead to bad work practices and it doesn’t fit with GenY notions of contemporary employment.

Attitude as a boss also matters

The attitude of the employer can greatly contribute to the cause of apprentices not completing. GenY apprentices are quick to pick up the clues from their employers; they feel that they are already sacrificing wages in exchange for training and respond negatively to employers who harp on about profitability and costly mistakes.

Time spent mentoring matters

80% of apprentice bosses not only run the business but also look after the apprentice’s pay and conditions. That puts enormous time pressures on employers who want to help their apprentice complete their qualification, but who feel they just can’t find the time to mentor. That can put an apprentice in a difficult position if they want to talk to someone about a work problem, a pay rise or their working conditions.
However, the employers with good retention rates, even if they are in small businesses, tend to have someone looking after or helping out with HR matters. Successful employers also take the apprenticeship relationship seriously and make sure that they are doing what they are supposed to do for the apprentice; they stick to the deal in practice as well as on paper.

Matching the apprentice to the trade matters

Not only are one in three apprentices likely to leave their apprenticeship in the first year, of the 55% that complete, some leave the trade immediately after they qualify. That means you’ve just wasted four years in getting them up to speed. Why did that happen?
Feedback from MEGT’s apprentices is that they were dedicated to finishing and had a good work attitude. But they never did like that particular trade. Carrying out some type of testing to see if the job seeker is right for your trade, is clearly well worth doing.

If you would like to increase your success rate with employing and retaining apprentices, MEGT can help. Click here to find out more on our recruitment support

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