Kent Willis is passionate about engaging people into an apprenticeship, advising small businesses on the process involved, and setting it up right from the start. He’s been in the recruitment industry for nearly 25 years and it was a stint with training organisations that helped him discover that there was a HUGE need for small and micro businesses to source quality apprentices. This is how ‘Apprentice Recruit’ was born 6 and a half years ago and Kent has never looked back!
We recently had the privilege of getting the experienced Kent Willis from Apprentice Recruit on our Live chat platform to give us an insight into the importance apprentices’ play in your business.
The value an Apprentice can bring to your business
Apprentices are great for a numerous number of reasons, the value they bring can positively impact your business. Personally, the biggest pro from hiring an apprentice is simply that there is an extra pair of hands. If you are in the trade industry, you will undoubtedly agree with this.
Apprentices may also provide a future for your company if you as the owner have no family who would be interested in inheriting the business, or current employees who would be interested in continuing your legacy. Often Kent finds himself dealing with older business owners who are looking to train up staff to enable them more time off, whilst giving the team more hands-on roles with the idea to one day take over. This idea may help you as a business owner to look at the bigger picture of how you can develop your business long term, or see where the business is going as you reach the end of your career. Taking on an apprentice actively forces you to acknowledge where you stand now and where you are striving for your business to be. No matter the industry, you’ll probably start to realise your mind and body can only take the long hours and sometimes physical labour for so long. Whilst your work productivity may decrease, a younger apprentice may be more productive and provide a better return on investment. Letting go of the reins a little may be tough, but worth it in the long run.
Kent places all types of apprentices in businesses and sees the value first hand. Recently he placed a mature age apprentice (Over the age of 21 with life experience) into a company which not only provided someone with years of real life experience, but it also enabled the owner to focus on bigger, long term strategic tasks, while his apprentice focused on the day-to-day hands-on tasks. Another scenario where Kent actively saw value in placing an apprentice into a company was two and a half years ago. He placed an apprentice into a landscaping company, and recently that company won Landscape Apprentice of the Year. This shows value in this specific business’ training process, and the ability for an employee to be a brand ambassador. It also goes to show that whilst the employee gets value from the apprenticeship, so does the employer, across various aspects of the business including branding, employment longevity and career growth. 100% validation that apprentices can play a pivotal role in your business growth.
How to Find and Hire the Right Apprentice
Finding and hiring the “Right” apprentice can be a difficult and daunting task. In today’s day and age it is difficult enough to find “great” staff, let alone a “great” apprentice. As a professional recruitment company, Apprentice Recruit use approximately 18 different platforms with access to a range of different job boards and therefore people so that they can collect as many different applications as possible. It is important to note that different job boards suit different industries. some that Kent regularly uses include but are not limited to:
There’s a wide variety of platforms that you can advertise your need and want for an apprentice. The perks of being with ‘Apprentice Recruit’ are that they have the systems in place to be able to use all of them at the same time, something you cannot do if you’re advertising yourself. Kent believes that “Seek” and “Indeed” are definitely the better of these platforms to choose from, however the challenge with Seek is how costly it can get.
Whilst you need to consider which platform to use, it’s important to put some focus on the advert itself.
- Provide lots of details – Simply writing “Looking for an apprentice carpenter, apply here” won’t be sufficient and definitely won’t get you the “Right” applicants.
- Provide your company’s motto – Give them a “why” they should want to apply and work for your business.
- Let people know who your company is – What it is that you do? What is it that you stand for?
- Provide information on what will they be doing
Top Tip – Make the application process as simple and quick as possible. Did you know that “95% of candidates who apply for a position don’t follow through”, therefore making the process as quick, easy and smooth as possible will get you the right candidates applying. This could be as easy as having an “Apply now” button which helps them to follow through with the application. Let’s face it, people can be lazy and you will find that if the application process is complex and difficult, people will put it in the “too hard” basket and move on.
Once you have collected applications and narrowed down the options to the best ones, you are getting into the most crucial stage of the hiring process – The “Interview” stage.
- Start a conversation, make them comfortable. The more comfortable they are, the more they will open up about who they are, what they value and what they want to do.
- Be aware of your tone of voice and body language – Generally, it’s not about the questions you ask, but how they are delivered.
Top Tip – WHY is a crucial foundation of not just a job, but life in general.. So many people search for their purpose and their “why”. Once a person understands what they are doing and why they are doing it, the chances of them giving 110% all day every day is much greater than if they didn’t understand their purpose. Make sure your candidate actually has a desire for your role, and it isn’t just another job to them.
Lastly, when you employ an apprentice you want to ensure you get on well with them so be sure to ask them about their passions, hobbies and interests. If they’re spending 5-6 days a week with you and your team and feel they can’t have a good ol’ conversation, it probably won’t work out, even if this person is the more equipped, skilled and experienced person for the job.
Most importantly… listen to your intuition! More often than not you know whether the candidate in front of you will be the right fit. Time spent with the wrong employee is a lot more time consuming than saying no at the start and waiting for the right person to come along.
How to Set Your Apprentice up for Success
A formal contract is a good place to start when setting your apprentice up for success. This will help you to:
- Define work days and times
- Understand what is expected of them and you
- Provide salary and legal information
It also provides a solid foundation to refer to for performance management, professional development and if there are any behavioural issues at a later stage.
A job description is another great resource to implement for success as it will help you to:
- Define their role within your business and the team
- Outline their day-to-day tasks
- Understand their current skills
- Look at future development opportunities
When you have apprentices, it can also be valuable to set yourself and your business up for success by engaging with apprentice support networks. They are there to help you to create legal contracts, understand awards and applicable wage brackets and even how to handle behavioural issues.
Current Government Funding Available
The current Government funding available for apprentices is huge and a definite must to look into if you’re thinking of hiring an apprentice!
BAC – Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements (BAC)
- Any business that engages an Australian Apprentice between 5 October 2020 and 31 March 2022 may be eligible for a subsidy of 50% of wages paid to a new or recommencing apprentice or trainee.
- This covers a 12-month period from the date of commencement, to a maximum of $7,000 per quarter.
- After 12 months of this support, employers will be eligible to transition to the time-limited Completing Apprenticeship Commencements (CAC) wage subsidy for the second and third years of an apprenticeship.
- Check out Kent’s video on this here
Completing Apprenticeship Commencements (CAC)
- Eligible employers will receive a 10% wage subsidy in the second year of an eligible apprenticeship
- Up to a maximum of $1,500 per quarter per apprentice,
- 5% wage subsidy in the third year of their apprenticeship, to a maximum of $750 per quarter per apprentice.
- Learn more about the BAC & CAC here
The grants also have additional opportunities for different industries, locations (Regional etc) and apprentice ages. The BAC and CAC are available to employers of any size, industry or geographic location. The subsidy is not available for any apprentice receiving any other form of Australian Government wage subsidy e.g. Supporting Apprentices and Trainees or JobKeeper.
Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program (AAIP)
From 1 July 2020 the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program (AAIP) was scheduled to be replaced with a new, simplified and streamlined incentives program for employers of apprentices and trainees, the Incentives for Australian Apprenticeships (IAA). However, due to the extension of the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements Wage Subsidy to 31 March 2022 as announced in the 2021-22 Budget the Government has further revised the implementation schedule of the IAA. The IAA will now commence from 1 July 2022.
The full suite of incentives will continue to be available to employers of Australian Apprentices through the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program.
We hope you can now see the value and benefits an apprentice can bring to your business. You don’t have to be a massive business with loads of staff to have apprentices, you can be a ‘one man band’ getting ready to grow. Apprentices can be a great way to grow your business without the full wage of a skilled person. They don’t have to be ‘young & dumb’, they can be skilled and the “right” fit for your business, you get to choose!. Ensure you find and hire the right apprentice and spend time to set them (and you) up for success, the government can help too!