Debbie Mawer, director of people and culture at Taunton-based Claims Consortium Group, explains how apprentices can teach businesses a thing or two…

National Apprenticeship Week is a fantastic marketing initiative to highlight the many benefits of such schemes for both employers and apprentices.

This year much of the publicity surrounding the scheme has focused on the introduction of the controversial levy plan that the Government believes will fund three million apprenticeships in the UK by 2020.

Around 22,000 large businesses that have an annual wage bill of more than £3 million will have to pay the levy.

The aims of the levy are good, because all employers need encouragement if they’re to invest in apprenticeship programmes.

The levy will raise funds to improve the quality and quantity of those apprenticeships, and it will certainly raise the profile of apprenticeships within the business community.

I hope it will nudge some smaller businesses into seriously considering such a programme.

And so they should.

You can learn as much from an apprentice as they do from you.

This may sound strange when you could consider employing more experienced professionals.

We look at having a culture and consistent values throughout our organisation, and by employing staff at an apprentice level you can instil this culture early and watch it flourish as they grow with the business.

I have been challenged that apprenticeships create instability. But, again, I believe the opposite is true.

You actually gain a sense of stability because apprenticeship schemes can last anything from a year to several years, with the likelihood of the apprentice staying on to pursue a career with you.

From the apprentice’s point of view, gaining a salary while undertaking training with the potential of a genuine job opportunity is an attractive proposition.

That’s motivating for them, and generates loyalty and commitment. We believe that valuing employees and achieving commercial success go hand in hand for any business.

This is why we support apprenticeship schemes and promote continual on the job training for all our employees.

It might just be that hiring an apprentice is a positive step for your business this year, and with schemes available to suit most business types the likelihood is that there is the perfect apprentice out there, just waiting to be hired.