Have you ever thought about hiring an apprentice to work in your accountancy practice?
Maybe you’ve tried it in the past and couldn’t get it to work? Or maybe you use them with great success
It’s something I was discussing as part of a call with some members of my coaching and mastermind programme recently and it got me thinking about how good they can be.
Apprentices can be a fantastic thing to have in your business. You’ll get people who are willing to learn on the job and develop real skills and they can benefit from your support and mentorship as they enter into a new career.
For me, the top 3 benefits of hiring apprentices are:
- Low cost: Often they will start on minimum wage, which means they are a really cost-effective resource for your practice. Be careful though, it’s quite competitive out there. See the point further down this article about what to pay.
- They are entirely mouldable: Often apprentices have little to no experience which means they have no pre-conceived ideas about how things should be done. This means you can mould them perfectly to do it the way you want.
- They bring with them a fresh energy: Apprentices are usually fairly keen to learn, improve and impress. Which means they’ll bring with them a fresh energy and enthusiasm with lots of new ideas, hopefully!
Of course there are others, but I think that those are the main benefits.
So if you’re now interested in using apprentices in your firm, what exactly do you need to know about having an apprentice work in your practice?
Here are some of the things to think about…
Apprenticeships allow people to develop skills through real work
Apprenticeships are a really great way for people to learn skills by actually doing tasks in real life, rather than just reading about them in books.
Apprentices learn by putting things into practice and this can often be a much better way to take in information, digest it and learn new things than simply by reading about them.
Apprenticeships are a great alternative to university and more and more people are choosing apprenticeships in order to combat the rising costs of going to university. Instead, they offer a debt-free, direct route into employment that allows people to earn money from the beginning.
We all know that accounting is an industry that requires first-hand experience and ongoing learning in order to stay relevant, both of which an apprenticeship offers.
Apprentices can work towards real qualifications
One of my clients on the call said that they use apprentices in their practice and that they have all of them work towards completing all of the Xero and QuickBooks qualifications.
This allows people to gain qualifications that can back up what they’ve been learning and can be added to their CV for future job opportunities and progression.
They can also get generous exemptions with ACCA, ICAEW, CIMA, ICAS and CIPFA, all whilst earning and avoiding potential debt when studying.
It can be tough to find the right apprentice
One of the clients on the call expressed some frustration as they said they’d had a bad experience with a previous apprentice who worked for them and said that it had put them off considering taking on another apprentice.
But, it’s important to remember that any staff member, whether they’re an apprentice or not, can turn out not to be the right fit for your business.
There can be a number of reasons for this and sometimes it’s unavoidable.
It’s important to remember that if you don’t find the right apprentice the first time you shouldn’t let it put you off apprentices completely. It might take some time to find one who is the perfect fit for you and your practice.
Think about pay
One of my clients said that they quickly realised that paying a competitive wage that’s above the national minimum wage is key to attracting good apprentices.
They recommended paying about 20 pence more per hour than the national minimum wage. This isn’t a big difference to you as an employer, but it could make a big difference to the right apprentice and swing them your way, rather than having them work for a competitor instead.
One of the reasons many people go into apprenticeships instead of going to university is so that they can enter employment straight away and begin earning from day one whilst they’re learning. So, offering a competitive pay rate will be enticing and attractive to good potential employees.
Would you consider hiring an apprentice in your practice? Or do you already have apprentices working with you?