The hive of activity in National Apprenticeship Week, which took place earlier this month, highlighted the benefits of apprenticeships both for businesses and young people.
The programme of events provided a talking point for advice firms about whether to open their doors to young employees through such schemes.
Research recently conducted by ICM for the National Apprenticeship Service found that 43 per cent of financial services firms plan to take on apprentices in the next five years and 19 per cent intend to so in the next 12 months.
Many firms say apprentices are a core part of their growth strategy and they tend to stay in the business longer than
Some employers felt the talent pool had widened as apprenticeships become more popular, some said it had become easier to employ apprentices while others felt they had more job roles in their business that would suit an apprentice.
It remains to be seen whether the financial services firms interviewed by ICM follow through with their apprenticeship plans but some firms are already reaping the rewards.
Principal Financial Solutions director Chris Daems recruited an apprentice, office assistant Kelly Young, at the end of last year. He recommends that other firms consider the scheme to see if it could work for them.
Daems says: “There were many reasons for taking on an apprentice. I liked the idea of someone young contributing fresh ideas into our business and from day one we’ve asked Kelly to be an active contributor to the team.”
Daems says his apprentice has already proved invaluable to the firm by providing a fresh perspective on some of its business processes.
“We believe that we are really technology minded but Kelly has been a revelation when it comes to using technology, in particular managing and organising data. That is really important when helping some of our larger clients comply with their employer duties, including automatic enrolment. Her nickname of queen of the spreadsheet is well earned.”
Daems says although an apprenticeship requires a commitment of both time and money, it can pay dividends. “That commitment has already paid the business back tenfold just through the work, ideas and fresh perspective Kelly adds to the team,” he says.
Young decided last year that she wanted to become an apprentice, having finished her first year of college in May and then done very little over the summer. “I realised in those couple of months that I really needed to do something with my life so why not earn some money but learn at the same time?” she says.
Young signed up to an apprenticeship website, was offered an interview within two weeks at Principal Financial Solutions and got the job.
“I am definitely learning a lot. I never expected to be doing some of the things I’ve done since I started, for instance, observing industry roundtables, attending events in the Gherkin and sitting in on some quite important client meetings,” she says.
Young believes other advice firms should provide apprenticeships and points out that younger people have the ability to learn quickly on the job. “All we need is a chance. Just because we are young, it doesn’t mean we can’t do the work that someone older can. Have you seen how quick people my age are
on the computer? If, as many say, young people are the future, then perhaps they should think about employing young people as apprentices and teaching them the knowledge that they need,” she says.