uk builder apprentice

How to know if an apprentice is right for your small business

Are you considering hiring an apprentice but unsure if it’s the right move?

Well, you’re in luck, because with the world returning to normality and more support available for employers, there has never been a better time to consider investing in an apprentice to help grow your business even further.

The pandemic caused businesses across the world to pause and many put a hold on investment and growth. As a result apprenticeship numbers saw a significant drop – in fact, a remarkable 53% of firms that were surveyed in National Apprenticeship Week 2021 confirmed they have shelved plans to hire young people until they were sure of the future of their company post-pandemic.

We know it can be hard to find the time to plan the next step for your business – especially coming out the other side of the uncertain times we’ve found ourselves in – however, taking on an apprentice could be a real game-changer, and here’s why!

How do you know if an apprentice is right for your business?

For small businesses, time and money are often barriers to growth and when asked, many small companies were unsure of the potential benefits an apprentice could bring.

Apprenticeships not only offer a great route to employment for young people but are also a more cost-effective and practical way for businesses to recruit – something that is key for many SMEs that are currently facing significant skills shortages.

However, before deciding if an apprentice is right for you, first you need to understand the positive impact an apprentice could have on your small business and how an apprenticeship could help you pave the way to a bigger and brighter future.

If you want to explore the benefits of apprenticeships in more detail, you can check out the top reasons businesses should employ an apprentice here. In summary, the key benefits are:

  • they are cost-effective
  • can increase productivity
  • opportunity to develop new skills within your workplace
  • improve staff retention and loyalty
  • simplify recruitment
  • you can build the skills your business needs

6-steps to take before hiring an apprentice

Caught your interest? If you’ve started thinking about whether an apprentice is right for your business, then the chances are they probably are. However, to make sure you’re ready to hire an apprentice there are some easy steps you should take:

1. Identify where the skills gap is

Make sure you take the time to map out your current workforce, as well as your current and future workload as this will help you decide what kind of apprentice you are looking for. From here you can establish if you want to retrain your current staff or take on someone new – or even both!  Think about the skills and knowledge you need now but also in the future.

2. Establish if you can pay their wage

As the employer, it will be your responsibility to ensure your apprentice is paid the national minimum wage for their time worked. National minimum wage can change; so, make sure you check on the website if you’re unsure.

Important: The current National Minimum Wage rate for an apprentice aged 16 to 18 is £4.30 per hour and for apprentices aged 19 or over (in their first year). For apprentices aged 19 or over who have completed their first year, they are entitled to the National minimum wage for their age.

3. Decide what level of training you want to offer and in what skill

Apprenticeships can range from entry-level qualifications, right up to degree level and there are over 500 apprenticeship standards available. So, it’s important you think about which will best benefit your business. The HomeServe Foundation find apprenticeship training page can help get you started.

4. Connect with a training provider

In order to deliver an apprenticeship, you will need to find an accredited training provider (like the Apprenticeship Academy) to deliver the qualification part of the apprenticeship programme. The training provider can help you with the entire process of hiring an apprentice, and so the earlier you get in touch the better!

5. Check what funding is available

You read that right – the Government will give you money for hiring an apprentice.

A grant of £1,000 is already in place if the apprentice you hire is:

  • Aged between 16-18 years old at the start of the apprenticeship or
  • Under 25 years with an education, health, and care plan Or has been in the care of their local authority

But the £1,000 isn’t all you could receive. Up until 30th September 2021, you will be entitled to receive an extra £3,000 top up for a new apprentice of any age that starts work within your business.

All the more reason to hire an apprentice now while the incentives are at an all-time high!

6. Calculate the total cost

To be honest, working out exactly how much an apprentice could cost your business can be a bit of a headache. However, it is such an important part of taking on an apprentice, it’s important you take the time to do it. Cost calculators, such as this one from the HomeServe Foundation are a great place to start.

So, is an apprentice right for you?

Your small business could benefit massively from hiring an apprentice and there has never been a better time than right now!

With the extra Government incentives higher than they have ever been and the current gap in trade skills, an apprentice could be the perfect option for your business. And the first step is an easy one, just simply get in touch.

Want to find out how you can hire an apprentice?

If you’re ready to take that next step or simply looking for more advice, then we have you covered. We’re here to help if you or someone you know, owns or runs a heating or plumbing firm and would find value from hiring an apprentice.

We have advisors waiting in the wings to take businesses through every step of the process, we want to make it as simple as possible. From recruiting to onboarding and securing government grants, our dedicated team are on hand to guide you through.

If you run a plumbing or gas company in the East Midlands, Peak District & South Yorkshire, contact our HomeServe Apprenticeship Academy team, call Sarah on 07881 037003, or email her at

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