The Movement

How Apprenticeships Can Benefit Your Small Business

Jason Burns
Sr Content Strategist

Posted 06/14/2019

As the owner of a small business, you’ve invested a lot of time and money in staffing, accounting, and advertising. While apprenticeships may not be able to help every division of your company, they are highly useful in worker management. Through an apprenticeship program, many small businesses experience decreased turnover and increased worker morale and skills.

What Is an Apprenticeship?

An easy way to explain an apprenticeship program is with the phrase, "Learn while you earn." Receiving a wage while gaining skills and nationally recognized credentials is what separates an apprenticeship from other types of on-the-job training.

Most programs have a set of minimum requirements such as age, education level, and physical abilities, and some include a test, written or manual. Typical occupations that use apprenticeship programs are plumbing, welding, construction, electrical work and repair (vehicle and appliance).

Five characteristics of an apprenticeship program

Employers are extremely involved, making sure their workers are learning real-world skills and up-to-date techniques.

Training happens while on the job, and the goal is to have the apprentice do the work, not just watch.

Additional education through books, manuals or videos is required. It can be offered by the employer, online, at technical schools or through trade organizations.

Wages are paid from the start and usually increase as workers meet specific benchmarks or skills.

Once the apprenticeship is completed (usually between 1-6 years), the worker receives national credentials. These credentials are considered "stackable,” letting the worker add to them as they learn new skills.

Apprenticeships Benefit Workers

From a worker’s standpoint, an apprenticeship provides a way to learn a trade skill while earning wages from a potential employer, avoiding the possibility of graduating from college with debt and no job.

Heather Murray and her husband own a mid-size HVAC company in Southern CA, which offers apprenticeships and ongoing training to their techs. She feels “this is a HUGE benefit to our techs as the company is investing in them. The faster they develop their skills, the more complex systems they can work on and the higher their income. We love watching eager new technicians advance through the program and be set for a long-term career in the HVAC trade.”

Furthermore, studies show that most apprentices who have completed their program earn over $300,000 more than non-apprenticed trade workers over a lifetime of earning.

Apprenticeships Benefit Small-Business Owners

If an apprenticeship is beneficial to the worker, as stated above, it is even more so to a small business. Whether you have fewer than 10 employees or operate multiple locations, choosing to employ apprentices is great for your bottom line and peace of mind.

Sean Holtom, from Top Hat Home Comfort, states it best, “Not only can we receive enormous financial benefits through hiring an apprentice, but we also get to help create and support a prosperous future of someone who is eager to be a part of the trade.”

Apprenticeship Advantages

Reduce time spent recruiting, interviewing and rehiring. Apprentices know they will increase wages as they improve and learn more skills, keeping them loyal to your business.

Cultivate the skills you need. As Andrew Weber from Weber Body Shop has found, “Offering apprenticeships have benefited us in crafting our ideal technician. We are able to show them areas they may be interested in and expand their skill set, and also begin to guide them to adapt our SOPs and be self-motivated.”

Reduce payroll expenses through employee training discount programs provided by your state’s Bureau of Workers' Compensation.

Receive state tax credits and community funding offered to business sponsors.

How to Get Started

The U.S Department of Labor offers assistance and support in both types of employer-offered apprenticeship programs: Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAP) and the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).

Young people interested in applying for an apprenticeship can visit Generation T to find jobs and apprenticeship opportunities in the skilled trades, along with reliable career advice.