<figcaption>Karen Woodward from the Skills Funding Agency</figcaption>” width=”198″ height=”300″ /> Karen Woodward from the Skills Funding Agency</figure><h2>While also playing a key role in many of National Apprenticeship Week’s<br />major events, Karen Woodward, deputy director – apprenticeship and<br />employer policy implementation<br />at the Skills Funding Agency, took<br />time out to tell RN why every independent retailer should consider joining an apprenticeship scheme.</h2><p> </p><p> </p><h3>What are the major business benefits of being involved in apprenticeship schemes?</h3><p>Research among employers demonstrates apprenticeships can help businesses grow by developing a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce. Around 96% of apprentice employers report benefits to their businesses ranging from improved productivity and competitiveness, to better staff retention and recruitment cost savings. Greater productivity is reported by around 72% of apprentice employers, with the average apprenticeship completer increasing business productivity by £214 per week.</p><h3>Are apprenticeship numbers on the rise? If so, why? What is making them more popular?</h3><p>Apprenticeships are growing in popularity as they are a way for young people and adults to earn while they learn in a real job, gaining a qualification and allowing businesses to grow their own talent. Quality is key to apprenticeships – providing high quality training that benefits both apprentices and employers. In 2012/13 over half a million people started an apprenticeship in England, and after finishing, the majority of apprentices (86%) will stay in employment. With the support and funding now available, there has never been a better time to employ an apprentice.</p><p>[pull_quote_right]Apprenticeships cover over 170 industries and 1,500 job roles, in a range of sectors. Job roles suitable for the retail industry include sales assistant, fresh food counter assistant, senior sales assistant or store manager[/pull_quote_right]</p><h3>Is the popularity of apprenticeships also growing for smaller businesses such as independent retailers?</h3><p>Absolutely. A recent study of 600 British businesses reveals that one in five SMEs plan to take on one or more apprentices in the next 12 months. Apprenticeships cover over 170 industries and 1,500 job roles, in a range of sectors. Job roles suitable for the retail industry include sales assistant, fresh food counter assistant, senior sales assistant or store manager.</p><h3>How can retailers get involved?</h3><p>The first step for any employer new to recruiting apprentices should be to contact the National Apprenticeship Service, the organisation that supports and co-ordinates the delivery of apprenticeships throughout England.<br />If they do decide to recruit, apprentice employers will receive dedicated support from the National Apprenticeship Service during the process. A team of experts, including small business specialists, will help employers:</p><ul><li>Decide on your requirements with an apprenticeship adviser, and drive recruitment through the free apprenticeship vacancies service</li><li>Deliver the apprenticeship, working with a training organisation to reduce the burden on your business</li><li>Develop your apprentice, for example entering them into awards and competitions to put your business on the map.</li></ul><h3>Is the government also supporting these apprenticeship schemes?</h3><p>Government funding is also available to help companies take on an apprentice aged between 16 and 24, through the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE). Funding of up to £1,500 is potentially available to organisations employing up to 1,000 people, who have never employed an apprentice before, or have not recruited one in the past 12 months.</p><p>Smaller, independent retailers may also be interested in offering traineeships. A traineeship is an education and training programme with a work placement that is focused on giving young people the skills and experience that employers are looking for.</p><h3>What are the legal requirements of businesses who take on apprentices?</h3><p>Apprentices are members of staff, and have the same employment rights as any other employee.</p><p>Apprentices work for at least 30 hours a week, and must receive the appropriate minimum wage. The National Minimum Wage for an apprentice aged below 19 or in their first year of an apprenticeship is £2.68, but many employers pay more than that to attract the right candidates. If an apprentice is aged 19 or over and has completed their first year, they will receive the National Minimum Wage rate that applies to their age.</p><p>Depending on the business and the apprenticeship chosen, an apprenticeship will take between one and four years to complete.</p><h2>Subscribe to Retail Newsagent magazine and we’ll send you a pdf of the full Apprenticeship feature which appeared in the 14 March issue.</h2></p></div> </div> </div> <div class=

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