Could adult apprentices help your business?

As the population ages it is becoming more and more imperative that we retain, retrain and recruit older employees. Almost half of 50-plus adults in the UK say they are not too old to find their dream job and to start a new and exciting career.

Across the country, under the Department of Work and Pensions' Fuller Working Lives Strategy, the National Careers Service, which is delivered in Cumbria by Inspira, has teamed up with the Local Enterprise Partnerships to trail a new support package.

The package, which runs until the end of March this year, is being offered to local employers to help them meet their employees' mid-life career needs. The support package is aimed at drawing on the skills and experience of older workers to increase productivity. The package provides employees with free, high quality, professional and impartial careers and skills advice which is designed to support the retention, retraining and recruitment of older workers in-particular.

The key objectives of the offer are to help businesses manage their workforce planning more effectively; support skills and productively challenges; and support the uptake of apprenticeships.

For many businesses as well as employees, apprenticeships are often considered to be for young people, but in-fact there is no age limit, the option to become an expert through an apprenticeship is available to everyone.

Some of the benefits of older apprentices is that as they have more years under their belt they may have to make significant life changes in order to pursue an apprenticeship thus their motivations may also be more urgent – a family to support, a life-long aspiration to achieve, or an opportunity for personal development. An older apprentice might also bring extra knowledge to the role, as well as a wealth of transferable skills picked up in previous roles.

The funding criteria for older apprentices can be different, but David Way, the former CEO of the National Apprenticeship Service, and someone with almost 40 years’ experience in the employment and skills sector advises employers to look at government funding as a complementary factor, rather than a deciding one.

He said: “Invest in your apprentice and don’t rely on government funding. Government funding is important but it is usually not enough on its own to support high quality apprenticeships. It is much better to think of the Government’s funding as investment that will sit alongside your own. Much of your investment will come in terms of employment, on the job training, paying a wage and mentoring within the business. Don’t feel that the funding from Government sets limits to what you can do with your apprentice. You get out what you put in!”

Whether apprenticeships are an option for your business or not, through the Fuller Working Lives support package, management and older workers will be able to explore flexible working approaches and practices that encourages retention, in-work progression, work life balance and improved productivity.

The National Careers Service Team at Inspira are available to help employers manage their workforce planning, while helping employees to rethink, refresh and reinvent their options so that can get the best out of their working lives. Email for more information.