While recent headlines have been dominated by news of recession and tough times ahead for businesses, perhaps now is a good time to take a fresh look at apprenticeships.

IT'S time to take a fresh look at the benefits of apprenticeships.

After all, they benefit both the individual apprentice and their employer, plus there is national and local Government funding available to support employers who hire an apprentice.

At the national level, the Government is offering employers an additional incentive if they hire an apprentice between 1 August 2020 and 31 January 2021. They will receive £2,000 for apprentices aged 16-24 and £1,500 for those aged above 25. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment to employers for apprentices who, at the start of their apprenticeship, are between 16 and 18 years old or between 19 and 24 years old and have an Education, Health and Care plan.

At the local level, there are many additional funding programmes offered by district and city councils to support apprenticeships across the county. Details are available from the Worcestershire Apprenticeships website.

However, quite apart from these financial incentives, there are many other reasons why hiring apprentices makes good business sense.

For example, business owners know what skill gaps or areas of potential they have. Apprenticeship schemes offer a way to train up new employees in these areas from day one.

Hiring an apprentice is also a cost-effective way to support the development of new skills and talent in a business and a massive 78 per cent of employers have reported improved productivity after introducing an apprenticeship programme.

There’s also clear evidence that apprenticeships promote loyalty, with 90 per cent of apprentices staying at their company after completing their course. This is hugely beneficial to employers – especially where they have trained someone up from a beginner so that they will be a perfect fit for their business.

For businesses looking to improve their skills, productivity and staff retention, apprenticeships have a lot to offer. That’s probably why almost all employers who have taken on an apprentice (96 per cent) report benefits to their business.