Apprenticeships myth busting: tackling misconceptions and stereotypes

Apprenticeships – what image do they conjure up in your mind? For far too many businesses it’s an outdated vision of school leavers doing manual, low-skilled jobs. They’ve probably got a bit of an I-don’t-care attitude and have more than a few things to learn about life in the workplace.

“Oh, how wrong that image is,” says Lisa Hutchings from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Skills Hub, a free service to help businesses upskill and maximise the potential of their people.

“It’s time to take the apprentice stereotype, turn it on its head and give apprenticeships the credit that they deserve. Nowadays, they’re one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to upskill your team. Let’s squash those apprenticeship myths once and for all.”

And Adam Luck, Property Director at St. Austell Brewery agrees. “People are at the heart of our business and through apprenticeships we find enthusiastic and committed individuals to start their career,” he said.

“Apprenticeships offer us long term recruitment solutions, the right individuals can progress to work in any of our sites, head office, or into a management role.”

In celebration of National Apprenticeship Week 2018 which runs from 5 to 9 March, the Skills Hub has tackled some of the most common misconceptions surrounding apprenticeships…

Myth one: Apprenticeships are only suitable for manual jobs.

Any type of business can gain the skills that they need through apprenticeships. They come in all shapes and sizes and cover more than 170 industries and 1,500 job roles, including digital media, business improvement techniques, nursing, cyber security, engineering, finance, costume design…

No matter what the needs of your business or how niche the services and products are that you offer, there will most likely be an apprenticeship to suit your business.

Myth two: Apprenticeships are only suitable for low level skills development.

Apprenticeships are available at intermediate, advanced, higher and degree level. The Government is committed to expanding the number, range and quality of apprenticeships that offer training to degree level and many more are currently being developed and will be available as industry demands them.

Myth three: Apprenticeships can’t be offered to existing employees.

Apprentices can be new recruits or existing employees.

Apprenticeships are a great way to support existing staff in developing new skills whilst boosting motivation and retention. Terms and conditions of employment do not need to be changed for an existing member of staff who becomes an apprentice, but you’ll need to create and sign an Apprenticeship Agreement.

Myth four: Apprenticeships are only for school leavers.

Apprenticeships are available to anyone aged 16+ who is eligible to live and work in England. There is no upper age limit for apprenticeships. They are for the young and the young at heart.

Myth five: Apprentices get trained, then leave the company.

Depending on the sector and job role, an apprenticeship can take anything between one and five years to complete. This time builds loyalty, so much so that 71% of apprentices stay with their employer once they have completed the training.

There’s always an exception to the rule but most apprentices are in it for the long run – they pick you as an employer as much as you pick them as an employee. Get the recruitment right and you could be looking at your managers of the future.

Myth six: Apprenticeships are a drain on business resources.

 Apprenticeships boost productivity to businesses by an average £214 per week. They help businesses grow their own talent by developing a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce which in turn leads to increased profits, lower prices and better products. Sounds good doesn’t it?

Myth seven: Apprenticeships are expensive.

Actually, they are one of the most cost-effective ways to bring new skills into a business.

All apprentices must be paid at least the Apprenticeship National Minimum Wage relevant to their age.

Another important cost to consider is the training itself which businesses pay direct to their chosen training provider. Funding is available to help with this. How much depends on whether you pay the apprenticeship levy

  • If you pay the apprenticeship levy the government will give you funds towards paying for apprenticeship training.The apprenticeship levy is paid by businesses with a pay bill that exceeds £3 million every year and works out as 0.5% of your total pay bill.
  • If you don’t pay the apprenticeship levy you can still get help for 90% of the cost of training your apprentices and it is possible that you may even be eligible for further funding support depending on your circumstances.

Myth eight: Apprentice recruitment is difficult.

It needn’t be, lots of support is available. It is up to you which training provider you use and who you recruit as your apprentice. You know your business most so are in the best position to know what the right fit will be, but lots of help is at hand to guide you through the options.

Want to find out more and explore if an apprenticeship could give your business the skills it needs to thrive? Talk to the Skills Hub on 01209 708660 or visit

The Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Skills Hub is part funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and match funded by Cornwall Council and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.