Far from being a form of cheap labour, properly implemented internships and apprenticeships can be a very valuable experience, for both parties. The intern or apprentice will develop some hard and soft skills, as well as learn about your industry and function, and as an employer, you will get some fresh perspective and resource at little cost.
At Page Talent, we know the importance for students and graduates of getting great experience, on top of their university results. While we encourage employers to offer internships or apprenticeships and provide this work experience, we would always advise that you go through a formal process and don’t be afraid to use them for more than coffee runs – you can learn as much from them as they can from you.
Here are three things to think about if you’re considering implementing apprenticeships or internship programmes:
1. Offer paid opportunities
There is an ongoing debate about whether employers take advantage of students and graduates when hiring interns or apprentices as they don’t tend to cost much, but as previously pointed out, internships and apprenticeships can be a great learning experience so many students are keen to participate. Generally speaking, you’re more likely to attract a better calibre of applicants by offering a paid opportunity.
A popular method is to offer insight days or weeks. These don’t necessarily have to be paid, but offering to pay expenses will make these schemes more desirable and accessible to applicants.
2. Think long-term
Your interns or apprentices could turn into your future employees; it’s a low-risk way of hiring as you will already have assessed their capabilities and potential for development during the course of their internship or apprenticeship.
If you treat your interns and apprentices like they’re a part of the business and show them the career progression opportunities, they’re likely to stay engaged and maximise productivity during the course of their placement in the hope that there may be a permanent job offer at the end of it. You might find that interns and apprentices are already familiar and engaged with your brand and will become loyal employees.
3. Extra resource
There are times (such as peak periods or large projects) when you might find you just need an extra pair of hands for a few weeks/months. Make the most of the opportunity to impart some real business knowledge and skills on someone who will be grateful for the chance to get some exposure to a working environment.
There are many aspects to take into consideration when implementing an apprenticeship or internship programme, but if you don’t currently offer such opportunities, it’s well worth starting to make plans for one.