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Recruiting a mature apprentice: busting some of the most common myths

05 Jun 2019
We’ll bust some of the most common myths and misconceptions around employing an apprentice over the age of 50, and show you how diversifying your workforce is one of the best decisions you could make.

When you think about apprenticeships and how they can work for your business, it’s likely that a young person who has just left school or college springs to mind.

However, it’s not often that people who are at the other end of the age spectrum are considered for apprenticeships – and as a result, businesses are missing out on the vast range of benefits that come with hiring a mature apprentice.

In this article, we’ll bust some of the most common myths and misconceptions around employing an apprentice over the age of 50, and show you how diversifying your workforce is one of the best decisions you could make.

An older person won’t bring anything to my business

Employers often have a preconception that over-50s are slower learners and won’t have the same drive and determination as a career-hungry young person. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Over-50 bring a wealth of skills and experience, as well as confidence, resilience and a mature attitude. They know how to deal with stressful situations, are clear communicators and have strong organisational skills. Remember, it’s people with these kinds of attributes who improve productivity, performance and, ultimately, your bottom line.

You’ll also be enrolling them onto an apprenticeship that directly benefits your business, whether it be to address a skills gap or provide more resource to an overstretched team. It really is a win-win situation.

It will cost me more to employ an older apprentice

Age makes no difference in terms of how much it will cost your business to recruit an apprentice. If you’re a Levy-paying organisation (i.e. your annual wage bill exceeds £3m), you can use your funds just like you would if you were employing someone who is fresh out of school or college.

For smaller businesses who don’t pay into the Levy, you’ll be able to take advantage of the Government’s co-investment scheme. Recent changes to the scheme mean that you will only have to contribute 5% of the apprentice’s training and assessment costs – with the Government funding the remaining 95%.

Offering an apprenticeship to an older person is patronising

While apprenticeships are often targeted at 16-18-year-olds, they are also a credible option for older people who are looking to get back into work – particularly if they want a career change or are looking for new opportunities after taking early retirement.

Life for mature job-seekers isn’t always easy, with set-backs, rejections and even prejudice often affecting their chances of finding the right role. With an apprenticeship, they’ll be able to learn a new craft whilst putting their existing skills and knowledge to good use – and they’ll be very thankful for the opportunity.

I would be better off employing a school or college leaver

It’s just as important to develop and nurture mature talent as it is young talent – and there’s no better way to do this than with an apprenticeship.

Over-50s will have years of experience, and will have perfected soft skills such as time-management and communication – something which can take a long time for young people to acquire.

It’s not worth me hiring someone who’s close to retirement age

You might think that employing an over-50 is a risk, but people are living longer and are therefore working longer.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), a record number of mature employees are part of the UK workforce. Between September and November 2018, the were more than 10 million over-50s in work – as well as 1.2 million over-65s.

Older people are also more likely to stay loyal to your company, which will help to reduce your recruitment costs in the long-term. Not only that, but they act as great mentors to junior members of staff.

Over to you

Have you been inspired to recruit a mature apprentice? Our team can help you find the right individual and the right apprenticeship standard for your business. Take a look at our skills development offering.

Enquire today