Category: Blog

Dos and Don’ts When Taking on an Apprentice

Peter Behan of Group Horizon outlines some of the dos and don’ts when taking on an apprentice.

Target your apprenticeship at areas where you have clearly identified skills gaps and shortages or future areas of growth

Give some thought to your business’ immediate and future needs and consider how an apprentice could help to fill skills gaps or help grow certain areas of your organisation. The skills that the apprentice will be learning should match the requirements of your business and provide a secure foundation that will allow them to foster a long-term career at the company.

Set clear and realistic expectations about what you are hoping to get from the apprenticeship

Discuss your business goals and how you expect the apprentice to help you achieve them. Plan ways in which the organisation can get the most from the apprenticeship by providing a clear support structure. You will eventually need to sign an agreement with your apprentice that will lay out details of the skill, trade or occupation the apprentice is being trained for, the name of the apprenticeship they’re working towards, the start and end dates for the apprenticeship and the amount of training you’ll give them.

Find a trusted organisation that offers training for the apprenticeship you’ve chosen

There are a great many regional and national training providers to choose from but be sure to select a provider with experience in your chosen field and a track record of successfully training apprentices to a high standard. An up to the minute curriculum that has been developed by businesses for businesses will offer the apprentice the transferable skills to succeed and flourish. When researching training providers, it’s worth looking out for those with industry recognised accreditations to their names.

Once the training has been agreed you will need to sign a commitment statement with the apprentice and training provider. This will document the planned content and schedule for training, what is expected and offered by the employer, the training provider and the apprentice and shed light on how to resolve queries or complaints.

Check if there is funding available for training or to cover other costs associated with taking on an apprentice

Funding for training is dependent on whether your business pays the government apprenticeship levy or not. If your organisation has an annual pay bill of more than £3 million it will be required to pay the levy and will receive funds (0.5% of the pay bill) to spend on training and assessing apprentices. The government will then add 10%. If your organisation does not need to pay the levy it will pay 5% towards the cost of training and the government will pay the other 95% up to the funding band maximum.

Organisations may also be eligible to claim an incentive payment for new apprentices who start between 1 April and 30 September 2021.

Create a job profile and advertise your apprenticeship

Create a detailed job description in the same way you would for other company positions, detailing exact requirements to attract the right sort of candidates. Apprentices aren’t always young people and they can even be current members of staff.

The National Apprenticeship Service can help promote apprenticeship opportunities to individuals, parents and education establishments and the government hosts a ‘recruit an apprentice’ service for registered training providers (including large employers with direct grant funding) to post vacancies and manage applications for apprenticeships and traineeships.

Understand that the apprentice will require time away from site for studying

Apprenticeships vary in length depending on the subject and level but will take a minimum of 12 months to complete. During this time the apprentice will require some time away from the day-to-day role within the workplace in order to attend a training programme or study.

Provide a robust support network and put mentors in place from the very start

Apprentices will, more often than not, need practical support and guidance from day one in order to help them settle into the role. Regular engagement in the form of a work mentor is often beneficial to all parties, with the mentor helping the apprentice develop good working habits and reinforcing company procedure. Routine catch-up meetings to find out how the apprentice is getting on and address any concerns are also recommended.

Treat apprentices as cut-price labour or just another pair of hands for the business

Apprentices should not be viewed as cheap/temporary labour for the business, they should be seen as a long-term business investment and as such should be a major part of the organisation’s future plans. Apprentices often bring fresh ideas and impetus and will more likely stay with an employer who has invested in them. A number of well-known business leaders started out as apprentices and worked their way to the very top.

Assign apprentices unfamiliar tasks without ensuring they have the necessary support or mentors on hand to offer guidance

The first few months of a new apprenticeship can be overwhelming and the apprentice may find themselves struggling to prioritise tasks in an unfamiliar work environment. Providing the necessary support and resources whilst carefully considering workload will help them settle into the role and integrate seamlessly into your team.

Leave the apprentice on uninspiring or repetitive jobs for long periods

Assigning an apprentice to menial tasks means you won’t get the best out of them and they won’t develop the specific skills the business needs. By offering a range of opportunities to carry out meaningful work the apprentice will grow in confidence and acquire an assortment of transferrable skills that will benefit the organisation.

Rush into taking on an apprentice without considering long term goals and engaging in succession planning

Consider how an apprentice could help your business thrive by looking at areas where they could really make a difference over an extended period of time. You may have a range of entry level positions that could work as apprenticeships or you may have hard to fill roles that require specialist training.

Always expect instant results

Set realistic expectations. Apprenticeships aren’t a short-term fix and some young people won’t have had a formal job before so may need nurturing to help them reach their full potential. For many this will be their first step on their career ladder and it will take time for them to develop the skills, confidence and experience needed to thrive.

Who and Why

Peter Behan, Director of Group Horizon, explains why the company’s Junior Energy Management apprenticeship programme is suitable for anybody considering their career options or looking for a new challenge thanks to its real-world work experience and a skill set that every company should have in the 21st century.

Many of us have probably considered a career change at various points in our lives. For some, remaining in the same sector from their late teens/early 20s until retirement can bring many rewards and plenty of experience, while others reach a point where they feel they have got as far as they can on one career path and decide to go in a different direction altogether. Everyone is different and we all vary in how we are motivated.

The recent lockdowns have been difficult for everyone in a variety of ways, but they have also spurred people into trying new things like learning to play an instrument, learning a foreign language or improving their health and fitness – bike sales increased by 63 per cent during the first lockdown according to the UK’s Bicycle Association.

One thing that might deter people from making a fresh start is the thought of being behind everybody else while they are only just beginning and also being unsure of whether they will be able to secure a job. Group Horizon’s Junior Energy Management apprenticeship programme, however, really is open to anybody – and there is currently a major shortage of trained Energy Managers, so anybody who completes this apprenticeship will be helping to fill a void.

Many commercial buildings were left virtually empty during lockdown and this has led to many businesses having to reassess how they manage their premises. As more businesses come to realise that running their building at 100 per cent capacity is neither cost nor energy efficient when it is only partially occupied, there is a growing demand for the deployment of in-house Energy Managers. What’s more, it presents a fantastic opportunity for anybody who has been considering a change of career – especially during lockdown when the jobs market has been competitive and people have been assessing their career options or looking to try something new.

An Energy Manager could come from any previous background, whether it’s in banking, retail, construction, education or something else entirely. Apprentices are given the chance to learn a new set of skills and gain invaluable knowledge that will lead them on to a rewarding new career.

Liam Doughty, from Gateshead, previously worked in Facilities Management before starting a new role as an Energy Technician within Gateshead Council. Liam did not have any previous background within the energy industry, so he took up the Junior Energy Management apprenticeship opportunity with Group Horizon, a move that he is now reaping the benefits from. The qualification has provided Liam with a massive opportunity to progress his knowledge and skills in the energy industry and also move his career forward.

If Liam’s story inspires you then you too can begin your journey to become an Energy Manager under the guidance of Group Horizon. Also, if you are a company looking to meet your sustainability targets then an Energy Manager could be your answer. The Junior Energy Manager apprenticeship programme offers a balance of technical training and on-the-job assessments to match your needs and requirements and can be delivered on site in 24 months.

Revised emissions target set to intensify demand for energy management skills

The UK government’s ambitious target to cut carbon emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels has refocused the spotlight on energy management and the need to reduce energy usage and carbon emissions whilst striving to lower costs. This new target amounts to a 60% reduction on today’s levels and will require a concerted, co-ordinated effort by organisations across all industries. 

Energy manager job roles are becoming increasingly commonplace among organisations that are committed to developing sustainable business practices and understanding energy performance. To fully understand how the typical component parts and systems found in commercial buildings perform in terms of energy consumption there needs to be a thorough appreciation of how energy flows in and out of a building and how key elements can be reconfigured to work in harmony with one another to limit energy loss wherever possible.

With UK energy costs also on the rise once again, energy management skills are expected to be in high demand. Training and apprenticeships based around the core theme of energy management are becoming progressively more popular amongst learners and employers who recognise the need to act quickly and decisively on energy performance in buildings. A Level 3 Junior Energy Management Apprenticeship will provide foundation knowledge across 11 core topics of energy management, including technical, assessments, behavioural change, regulatory and legal, waste management, transport, procurement, water and more. Upon successful completion of the apprenticeship the individual will walk away with a clear understanding of the economics of energy consumption, the processes used to determine energy performance and the fundamentals of how to audit and advise on improvements to energy efficiency and reduce emissions. The employer ultimately benefits from having an in-house energy manager with the skills and expertise to meet the organisation’s sustainability commitments.

Peter Behan, director of Group Horizon, comments: “The Junior Energy Management Apprenticeship aligns perfectly with the government’s latest emissions targets and the pathway to net-zero. Group Horizon has a faultless record of delivering high quality training delivered on site or through online sessions and the Junior Energy Management Apprenticeship appeals to a broad range of industry sectors, including construction and the built environment, NHS, Network Rail, property, retail and leisure.”

Concerns around climate change are driving increasingly rapid changes in government policy which in turn is leading to the creation of new sustainability and energy management job roles with excellent long-term prospects. Organisations across the UK are being prompted to rethink their longstanding energy strategies and should seriously consider the merits of investing in specialist in-house skills and know-how to promote long-term savings.

Benefits of the Junior Energy Management Apprenticeship

Peter Behan, Director of Group Horizon, discusses the company’s Junior Energy Management apprenticeship programme and the benefits it could bring to your company.

Before social distancing came along, energy efficiency had become the most important aspect in commercial building management. The onset of Covid and the subsequent lockdowns has perhaps exacerbated the need for energy efficiency in buildings; this was clearly evident when we were all told to stay at home while lights continued to burn brightly in office buildings up and down the country. Not all of them of course, and organisations who were well on top of their energy management will have had systems in place to switch off services that were not required as people began to work from home where possible.

Even now as some of us return to our normal places of work, in many cases commercial buildings will be operating at a reduced capacity, with some areas of a building used much less than before. Maintaining a tight grasp on their energy efficiency is therefore going to be crucial for organisations in both the short-term and the long-term. There is also the significant challenge of the UK’s net-zero carbon by 2050 target looming on the horizon. If we are to achieve this then we must continue to address the well-documented statistic that buildings account for over 40 per cent of the global energy consumption with commercial premises accounting for more than half of that figure.

Due to the rise of the cost of energy the UK will become one of the most competitive market places for energy management skills over the next five to seven years. With a major shortage of trained energy managers, Group Horizon can help companies reduce energy consumption and costs and meet their sustainability requirements through our Junior Energy Manager apprenticeship programme. Energy managers can come from all types of companies and industries, including hospitality, leisure, retail, banking, manufacturing, construction, and property. As I have already mentioned, energy management is going to become even more crucial for businesses and having somebody trained in-house will be a huge advantage to the consultancy market. Meanwhile new and existing employees or apprentices are given the opportunity to develop life-long skills and gain valuable, hands-on workplace experience whilst earning a wage.

During the course, the apprentice will learn a range of energy management skills which can benefit organisations and lead to long term savings, including:

  • How energy flows in and out of buildings, equipment and processes and how key energy systems operate

  • The economics of energy consumption, supply and demand of energy, sustainability issues and role of the organisation in tackling them

  • Relevant level of theory and practices that underpin the energy efficient use of equipment, processes, and IT systems

  • How to read meters and sub-meters, collect, record and analyse metered data and interpret the manufacturer’s installation and maintenance requirements

  • How to conduct an audit and write up findings to demonstrate any non-conformance concerns

Group Horizon has a proven track record of developing new and innovative provision in a range of subject areas. Our specialist assessors bring a wealth of experience in their chosen fields and invest heavily in research and curriculum development to ensure that all our programmes are delivered up to date and relevant to the job market and the needs of employers. With the Junior Energy Manager apprenticeship, you will ensure your company stays in firm control of its energy consumption while creating a greener future for the UK.

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