APPRENTICESHIP Awareness Week next month will highlight the benefits of the qualification to employers.

More and more employers are engaging in apprenticeships to develop and expand their business, with roles available for newly recruited staff as well as existing employees.

They help to refresh, enhance and develop a workforce to meet the growing needs of a business, either by hiring a new member of staff as an apprentice or training existing employees to develop new skills.

Small employers, with up to 50 employees, who are offering training to 16 to 18-year-olds, can claim full funding from the government, and are also give an employer incentive payment of £1,000 over two instalments.

Larger employers with a pay-bill over £3m can use an apprenticeship levy, while all other employers are expected to contribute 10 per cent of the cost of the training, with the government paying the other 90 per cent.

Apprenticeships are designed to allow individuals to study for work-based qualifications which meet the requirements of learners and employers.

Basingstoke College of Technology (BCoT), which is one of the largest providers of apprenticeships in the region, offers a free training needs analysis to identify training solutions for individual businesses.

Bidfood in Basingstoke puts a high percentage of its staff through apprenticeships to enhance their skills and boost their qualifications.

Kerry Lewis, telesales manager for the food wholesale business, said: “What we tend to do is hire people and then put them on an apprenticeship. It gets them a bit more involved in what we do as a company.”

The company works with BCoT which provides the training, and Kerry said the skills the apprentices learn are matched to the jobs they do.

She added: “It gives them loyalty towards us because they can see that we invest in our staff. They get qualifications at the end which is something to put on their CV but also means they are more qualified in their job. Most want to do another one once they have finished one.”

Kerry encouraged other employers to consider offering apprenticeship roles and added: “I think everyone should do it, it’s really beneficial not just to the employee but the employer as well.”