An apprenticeship program is a tried and tested method for securing, training and developing skilled employees. The US is failing to take advantage though, and lags behind many other countries.
For instance, England started nearly 400,00 more apprenticeships in 2012 than the US, despite being nearly 6 times smaller. In Switzerland, nearly ¾ of younger workers join the workforce via an apprenticeship.
It’s not that we lack the infrastructure to support apprenticeships. There’s a system run by the Department of Labor that allows businesses to register their apprenticeship formally. Apprentices can then earn a nationally recognised certificate after they complete their apprenticeship, which in turn increases their own employment prospects.
The US government is committed to growing our apprenticeship economy, and yet we’re still lagging behind other countries.
In large part, this is due to a lack of buy-in at senior decision maker level. Business and HR leaders here in the US aren’t familiar with the apprenticeship system. We don’t understand why an apprenticeship program is such a good idea. It’s simply not the way we do things.
That needs to change, because the business benefits of an apprenticeship program are myriad. From cost savings to skills building, an apprenticeship program can make your business leaner, more competitive and more profitable. Did you know that you can track your talent pool from apprenticeship to full-time with our online recruiting system? Recruiteze is free and there’s no obligation. Try Recruiteze today.
Here are the top 5 reasons your business needs an apprenticeship program.
The two magic words: cost savings. Although an apprenticeship program will require an initial cost outlay to set up, it’ll pay back dividends. Nearly 60% of employers find hiring apprentices is more cost-effective than hiring pre-skilled staff.
The first reason for this is obvious. Apprentices require a lower salary investment than skilled employees would, so your payroll costs will be notably lower.
Secondly, you’ll likely see a knock-on effect on your training investment. We’ve written before about the importance of proper investment in training, and this is becoming an increasingly large cost for most businesses. Another way to save money hiring is by using our free online recruiting system. Keep reading to see how Recruiteze can help.
An apprenticeship program might seem like an additional cost, but you’ll often receive additional funding if you invest in apprentices. The Department of Labor make billions of dollars available in grants to encourage apprenticeship programs. This offers an opportunity to build your training capacity without the cost outlay.
In the most basic terms, your cost input into training stays the same but your value output, in the form of trained employees, increases. What’s not to love?
Thirdly, an apprenticeship program offers another hidden cost saving: recruitment costs.
It generally costs more to hire experienced staff than to hire apprentices. The talent pool becomes smaller and increasingly niche as your needs become more specific, and your interview process becomes longer and more convoluted. The more apprentices you hire instead of skilled employees, the more you’ll save in recruitment costs.
Tackle Skill Shortages
Another topic we’ve talked about before, skill shortages are the bane of most HR professionals’ lives. The US is in the middle of a skills crisis. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a shortfall of 10 million skilled workers by 2020 in the manufacturing industry alone, with millions more across every sector.
The skills shortage is one of our greatest challenges as HR professionals, so any potential solution should not be sniffed at. Apprenticeship programs offer such a solution, allowing businesses to train the talent they need instead of hiring in.
Nearly 85% of employers who have a proactive apprenticeship program say they rely on that program to provide a skilled workforce for the future.
Apprenticeships can be tailored to specific job roles, so they’re completely flexible to the needs of your business. Digital shortage? Fine. IT shortage? Also fine. You can create training that is completely bespoke depending on what your business needs on a case-by-case basis.
Apprenticeship programs can also be a valuable way of upskilling existing employees, to adapt to the changing needs of your business. We’ve talked before about the challenges of the aging workforce and the need for evolution: apprenticeship programs make this possible.
Apprenticeship programs also allow businesses to take full advantage of a multi-generational workforce. Don’t relegate ‘out of date’ older workers to the rubbish dump. Instead, these valuable employees can be retrained. In so doing, you can leverage the abilities and experience they have, and facilitate greater cross-generational skills transfer too.
Reduce Staff Turnover
As I’m sure you well know, staff turnover costs businesses an astronomical amount. The Society for Human Resource Management found that employers spend between 6 and 9 months of an employee’s salary to hire and train their replacement. In other words, an employee on a salary of $60,000 will cost up to $45,000 to replace.
That’s the lower end of the spectrum too. The Center for American Progress suggests that it can cost nearly 215% of salary to hire for a highly trained senior position. In other words, it could cost you nearly $260,000 to hire an executive on $120,000/year.
Advertising costs. Interview costs. Training costs. Onboarding costs. Morale costs. Productivity costs. The true cost of staff turnover can be extortionate, and savvy businesses put in the legwork to lower turnover from Day 1.
Which brings us to apprenticeship programs. An apprenticeship program can have a big impact on staff turnover.
By proving your commitment to training, you’re proving you invest in your people. That attitude earns loyalty and increases employee satisfaction, both key drivers when it comes to increasing retention.
In fact, 92% of employers with an apprenticeship program believe that their workforce is both more satisfied and more motivated as a result. 80% of those employers have reported a notable increase in their retention rate.
More satisfied, more skilled employees tend to be more productive employees. It really is that simple. Over 75% of employees who employ apprentices agree that apprentices have made their workforce more productive. That’s not just the apprentices that are more productive – that’s the entire workforce.
The figures are fairly conclusive: apprentices make for value-add hires. Over 40% of employers say that their apprentices have contributed to the business before their training period is even over. A further third say their apprentices add value immediately. Nearly 60% report their apprentices go onto to hold management positions in the business.
In terms of both short and long-term gains, then, an apprenticeship program has bucket-loads of potential. Did you know that Recruiteze can also help you increase productivity? Our online recruiting system speeds up the hiring process and keeps your staff organized. Keep reading to learn more.
Here’s one benefit you might not have considered. Did you know that more than 80% of consumers say they prefer to use a company that takes on apprentices? 77% of employers recognise that an apprenticeship program makes their business more competitive.
The benefits of an apprenticeship program aren’t only inward facing, then. An apprenticeship program is valuable because of the image you create externally, which has further knock-on positive effects on the bottom line.
Indeed brand perception is absolutely fundamental, today more than ever. 64% of consumers cite shared values as the main reason they’ll engage with a business.
While different consumers naturally have different values, social responsibility is gaining momentum as an all-important force. An apprenticeship program is good for the economy. It’s good for unemployment. It’s good for the skills shortage.
I’d posit that having a proactive apprenticeship program is a fundamental string to your bow on the corporate social responsibility front. And that can translate into a tangible commercial benefit.
It’s about how your business is seen. Depending on your industry, that might seem fairly insignificant today but it certainly won’t be in the future. As competition increases, so does the need to differentiate. Branding becomes ever more important – you’re not a big fish in small pond anymore.
Whatever you do, there’s someone else who does it. And if they do it better, more ethically, in a more responsible way, you’ll lose out because of that. If nothing else, that’s a compelling a reason to consider increasing your commitment to social responsibility. There’s no better way to do that than with an apprenticeship program.
The US has come some distance, and we’re certainly seeing more commitment to the apprenticeship economy than we’ve seen before. However, this growth is not where it could, or should, be if we aspire to uphold our position in the world’s economy.
Talent shortages are becoming more pronounced and the competitive landscape is becoming more competitive. Businesses who want to weather the storms of the future must start thinking now about the issues of talent attraction, retention and training.
An apprenticeship program is a proven method to secure a talent pipeline for the future, and to build loyalty amongst the workforce. It’s proven to make the workforce more productive. It’s proven to deliver return on investment. It’s proven that apprentices can go on to well-regarded leaders in management positions.
In all, there’s very little excuse for the US to lag behind other countries when it comes to apprenticeships. Very little, if any. The business benefits are many, and it’s a win/win decision for businesses, employees and the economy alike. As such, forward-looking business and HR leaders are committed to building a proactive, flexible apprenticeship program. Are you?
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