In these difficult economic times, apprenticeships have not only been the a great way for graduates and school leavers to gain all-essential skills to progress in their career but also a vital and cost effective way for employers at businesses of all sizes to find the talent they need to help their company grow and prosper.

With small to medium enterprises being responsible for 80% of apprenticeships, we have answered the essential questions asked by the majority of small business owners considering launching their very own internship or apprenticeship programme…

How can an apprenticeship programme benefit my business?

As we’ve mentioned an internship or apprenticeship has become a vital way for getting 16 to 24 years olds back into work, but apprenticeships also have countless benefits for employers. As well as filling a vacancy and remedying short term staff shortages, introducing fresh-faced and enthusiast interns into your business can be the inspiration that many companies need to get their strategy for success back on track. Apprentices are sure to have a selection of great ideas for an industry that they are particularly passionate about working in which will add value to your organisation and raise your profile as a whole.

Recruiting interns and apprentices can also be the missing link when finding and developing talent, and successful apprentices can be provided with permanent employment to fill a skills gap on a long term basis. Interns and apprentices should be seen as an investment for small businesses that might not always have the budget to source and train experienced staff members.

Can introducing apprentices develop my existing workforce?

As well as training your interns or apprentices to embrace your existing company practices and develop new ideas, a good apprenticeship programme will also enhance your wider team. Mentoring and supervision are vital parts of assessing and training candidates, and giving current staff members the opportunity to develop the company’s next generation of talent can keep them motivated, inspired and ultimately an important part of your company.

What’s the difference between an intern and an apprentice?

Whilst an apprentice and intern’s role within a company are often referred to in the same breath, there are significant differences between the two. Generally apprentices are permanent members of staff who are trained by a master until they are qualified, interns on the other hand are recruited for a temporary period and expected to be qualified or partially trained in their vocation. For interns there is no guarantee of a permanent position at the end of their placement.

What is an intern or apprentice’s entitlement to pay and other employee benefits?

Whilst there are a number of lucrative internships that are unpaid or expenses -only, the majority of employers pay the national minimum wage to candidates under the 19. As per the Working Time Regulations, all interns and apprentices must have the same entitlements as employees when it comes to annual leave and disciplinary procedures.

This article was written by Brittany Thorley from Getting-In, a company that provides essential advice for students looking to progress in their career through university courses or apprenticeships.