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Too old to be an Apprentice? Here are six reasons why we feel apprenticeships are for old folk too!
If you are aged 35, 40 and above, and are looking for work or the opportunity to change careers, few will blame you for thinking an apprenticeship is not for you. Marketing is aimed at those young enough to be your son, daughter, niece or nephew, and most apprenticeship vacancies are for entry level roles you could do in your sleep.
The biggest driver of this is the funding – the majority of employers offering apprenticeships are SMEs who currently access a government subsidy to hire apprentices below the age of 24 who are non-graduates. However, things are about to change. As of May, 1st 2017 the government is introducing a flat fee to train an apprentice that is not capped by age. For the first time, anyone aged 16 and above, non-grads to post grads, new and existing employees will now have an equal opportunity to do an apprenticeship.
However, are you ever too old to be an apprentice?
I think not, and here are six ways I believe Apprenticeships are a win-win for mature folk and their employer.
- Experience: No amount of training can substitute for decades of work experience. Mature Apprentices have a better understanding of the workplace, have developed transferable skills that enable them to hit the ground running with minimum supervision, bringing a faster return on investment.
- Workforce diversity: Apprenticeships offer caregivers who are usually women, the opportunity to come back to the workforce following a career break to raise children. As an Apprentice, returners benefit from an opportunity to receive training, and work experience to bring their skills up-to-date and employers get experienced professionals they could not otherwise afford. Apprenticeships can also be undertaken on a part-time basis adding flexibility for both employer and Apprentice.
- Advanced communication skills: Letters, telephone calls and face-to-face conversations may be “so last season” to some, however, to us middle-aged folk they have never truly gone out of style. Knowing how and when to communicate and navigate your way through workplace politics comes through experiences that younger Apprentices have not yet developed.
- No time to waste: Recruitment is an expensive exercise and one that is wasted if your whippersnapper of an Apprentice opts to jump ship after a few months due to a change of heart. Contrarily, opting to do an apprenticeship later in life is not something you decide to do on a whim, particularly if you have family and financial obligations. As such, mature Apprentices are more likely to be interested in and dedicated to the job at hand.
- Multi-skilled and adaptable: The career path experienced by mature Apprentices may have taken them through a variety of roles from general admin to office management. They may have worked in a freelance capacity or had a portfolio career holding down jobs in small teams to corporates in a variety of industries. Whatever their journey they have mastered essential skills along the way that will add value to any business.
- Cost Effective: With a rise in the number of Higher and Degree Apprenticeships available, Apprenticeships are a cost-effective way for Apprentice and employer to build up their skills base. There are no training costs for the Apprentice, and the government will pay 90% of the cost of training for those companies not in scope to pay the Apprenticeship Levy. Admittedly, Apprenticeship salaries can be low. However, many employers pay significantly more than the minimum wage guidelines, and for existing employees, there should be no reduction in your salary.
We are not discounting the tremendous impact made by younger apprentices, rather encouraging mature folk not to count themselves out of the race before it’s started. Hiring Managers should also think outside of the box when it comes to developing an apprenticeship programme, and in considering who an apprentice could be. Older apprentices have a valuable contribution to make to any workforce. Let’s make the most of their work experiences and life skills, which in themselves are priceless.
Contact DiVA on 0203 189 1784 For more information on how you as an employer or individual can get started with Apprenticeships.