Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Need an apprentice?

Did you know that there are several apprenticeship schemes operating in Kent at the moment?  Neither did we!  Following a chance conversation with someone from Shepway District Council, where an apprenticeship scheme has been launched, we thought we would provide a basic briefing about apprenticeships and provide links for further reading.

Time to investigate?

We all know what woodland management/forestry/arboriculture is a tough job and finding new entrants into the sector can be hard.  However, we do know that there are many people aged 16-24 who are interested in the environment, keen to work outdoors and who are not cut out for the academic life at university.

At the national level the recent report by the Independent Panel in Forestry calls for a "...revival of a woodland culture that appreciates how important trees are for people, for nature and the economy".  It also calls for an increase of woodland cover in England from 10% to 15% by 2060.

At the local level the markets for woodfuel of all types are starting to expand, not least due to the resurgence in the use of firewood and incentives such as the RHI.  In addition the Forestry Commission is working hard to identify non-managed woodland and is seeking new and innovative ways to motivate owners to manage them.

Given that there is now so much financial support for apprenticeships now is a also good time to investigate if you are considering expanding your business.

Please note that we have borrowed heavily from the National Apprenticeship Service for this article.  Their website is very useful and provides a lot more detail than is covered here.

What are apprenticeships?

They are work-based training programmes designed around the needs of employers, which lead to national recognised qualifications. You can use Apprenticeships to train both new and existing employees. Funding is available to train apprentices (more on this later...).

As apprenticeships are work-based training programmes, most of the training is ‘on the job’. The rest can be provided by a local college or by a specialist learning provider, or you could deliver everything yourself.  As the employer you must give your apprentices an induction into their role and provide on-the-job training. You are also responsible for paying your apprentices’ wages.

Employment must be for at least 30 hours per week. In some cases the number of hours can be lower but must be more than 16 hours per week.

Why take on an apprentice?
  • Over 80% of those employers who take on apprentices agree they make their workplace more productive.
  • 81% of consumers favour using a company which takes on apprentices.
  • The National Minimum Wage for apprentices is £2.65 per hour. Many employers prefer to pay more however, and research shows that the average salary is approximately £170 per week.
  • Employers who take on a 16-18 year old apprentice only pay their salary. The Government funds their training.
  • There are more than 250 different types of Apprenticeships available offering over 1,400 job roles.
  • 92% of employers who employ apprentices believe that apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce.
  • 83% of employers who employ apprentices rely on their apprenticeships programme to provide the skilled workers that they need for the future.
  • One in five employers are hiring more apprentices to help them through the tough economic climate.

Apprenticeship funding is available from the National Apprenticeship Service. The size of the contribution varies depending on your sector and the age of the candidate. If the apprentice is aged 16–18 years old, you will receive 100% of the cost of the training; if they are 19-24 years old, you will receive up to 50%; if they are 25 years old or over you may only get a contribution depending on the sector and area in which you operate.

This is paid directly to the organisation that provides and supports the apprenticeship; in most cases this will be a learning provider.

Which schemes are running?

We mentioned the Shepway scheme at the start of this article:
  • Grants of up to £1,500 to Shepway businesses to encourage them to employ local people as apprentices.
  • Any Shepway business can apply, although we have a focus on businesses with fewer than 10 employees. 
  • Applications will be considered on a case by case basis with appropriate checks made (e.g. with Companies House) to try to ensure that the apprenticeship is not ended prematurely due to company failure.
  • We offer grants of up to £1,500 per apprentice, with a maximum of three grants offered per business.
  • The scheme is only open to individuals who live within Shepway, are out of full time education, over 16, and able to work in England. 
  • There will be no focus on a particular age group, but we are expecting the majority of apprentices to be aged 21 and below.

For more details contact Jeremy Whittaker on 01303 853375 or Email

Kent Apprenticeships is a joint partnership between Kent County Council, KATO (Kent Association of Training Organisations) and NAS (National Apprenticeship Service).  The scheme provides bespoke advice and support to help you find the right apprentice. 

For more details email or call 0800 098 8825.

The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) supports, funds and co-ordinates the delivery of apprenticeships throughout England.  The NAS website provides detailed information on the benefit of apprenticeships and has a support service for employers.

For more details call  08000 150 600 or visit the website.

Kent Woodland Employment Scheme (KWES)

KWES is a new charity set up to provide training and employment for ex-Service personnel, young people and ex-offenders in Kent’s ancient woodlands.

For more details call 01622 884258 or email

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