Whatever size business you work for or indeed own, apprenticeships might just be the magic ingredient you need to see innovation, talent and productivity increase; ensuring growth and future success for years to come.

If you thought that apprenticeships were just for new employees or those fresh out of school or college, you’d be very much mistaken, apprenticeship reforms are changing the way businesses recruit, retain and invest in their existing workforce, strengthening the organisation where it is needed most. A key aspect of an apprenticeship is the build-up of knowledge and skills, these opportunities should be made available to all employees; investing in your existing workforce can produce many proven benefits for both employer and employee. The apprenticeship reforms have opened apprenticeships up to many people regardless of age or previous qualifications.

During the 2015-2016 Academic year over half a million apprenticeships were started, of which 74% were by people aged 19 or older (gov.uk). The apprenticeship landscape is changing rapidly in terms of sectors and audience. The Work Wiltshire Website has a wealth of information around apprenticeships and a dedicated area for employers, offering information about all aspects of the apprenticeship reforms for both levy and non-levy paying business.

Business are beginning to utilise the apprenticeship levy by hiring and training apprentices, however many employers are not fully aware of how to maximise its use, particularly where existing employees are concerned. A recent article published in the TES stated that many employers are not using their levy or know where to begin, “Businesses are missing a trick,” said Garry Phillips, chief executive of West London College. “By not tapping into the levy, companies are passing up on the opportunity to improve existing staff skills and bring new employees on board.”

Investing in existing employees demonstrates that you value them as individuals and their role within the business; a motivated and engaged workforce can boost productivity and inspire new ideas and talent. Employees that are able to gain new skills and that are aware of the progression opportunities available to them experience higher levels of job satisfaction, confidence and competence. Employee retention and loyalty also increase as a result.

Investing in your existing workforce is an efficient and effective process as the often laborious recruitment processes have already been addressed and employees are well established into your organisation.

Many larger organisations are looking to use the levy to appeal to a new wave of managers and senior staff and replace outdated generic training programmes, often designed external to the business needs. By developing existing employees you are creating a pool of future talent, bridging the skills gap and creating a strong workforce.

Want to give your business a competitive edge? You could do this through your employees by providing them with the skills they need to take your business forward. Higher Futures has been specifically created to address the higher level skills gaps in Swindon and Wiltshire, helping your business to achieve its full potential. Find out more about how the Higher Futures Team can help your business secure the training your employees need and source any funding available.

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