Starting an apprenticeship program

If your business needs skilled staff, maybe it's time you considered offering an apprenticeship.

While apprenticeships are common in certain industries, many business owners fail to realise that the solution to their staffing issues could be starting an apprenticeship program. Apprenticeships are already offered in over 500 occupations, so there is likely to be one well suited to your business's needs.

First off, do your sums

While it's unwise to institute an apprenticeship program simply to cut labour costs, it's true that apprenticeships offer a range of financial benefits to employers. Apprentices are usually paid modestly throughout the course of their apprenticeship and the federal government encourages employers to take on apprentices by helping to cover the costs of them doing so.

If you're considering an apprenticeship program, make sure to investigate funding sources such as Apprenticeship Kickstart Initiative, which is available at the beginning of 2013. There may also be incentives on offer if you take on an Indigenous Australian as an apprentice.

Consider your options

Apprenticeships don't have to involve a four-year-long commitment. In fact, within certain limits, they can be as undemanding or intense as you're willing to enter into. Australian apprenticeships are offered at all levels, from Certificate I through to Advanced Diploma. What's more, you can engage an apprentice part-time while they are still at school and even share an apprentice with another business.

Be aware or your rights and responsibilities

While governments try to make it as easy as possible for employers to take on apprentices, the fact is you're still entering into an employment contract with another person with all the legal issues that entails. Before going any further, find out what your responsibilities will be to your apprentice and what their responsibilities will be to you.

Now go find someone

You can source an apprentice anywhere, from visiting your local Australian Apprenticeships Centre to advertising in the paper. However, one of the most efficient ways is to get in touch with your local TAFE NSW Campus. They will most likely be able to connect you up with plenty of students eager to get an apprenticeship, and will also be able to help design a training program suited to the specific needs of your business.

[quote]Apprenticeships aren't just for tradespeople anymore, so if your business needs skilled staff, maybe it's time you considered offering them.[/quote]