A rally to arms – take on an apprentice (and how to do it)

Some of my articles are deliberately written with the intention to cause action, and this is one of them. I’ll try to write it without sounding too earnest but in short, I can’t find a single reason why agency leaders aren’t applying to take on apprentices right now.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been doing my research on apprentices, namely trying to understand how to go about it and the effort and cost associated. Given the skills shortage we have in our industry for talented, capable people, I’ve been on a one-man crusade to practice what I’ve been preaching to clients about taking on an apprentice.

  • It is FREE on the Kickstarter scheme (until December).
  • It will help your agency grow.
  • You’ll be giving a young person who has been unemployed for a while a life changing opportunity. If you’re an agency owner you have a responsibility to nurture young people and improve the skills within the industry.

I’m officially signed up and ‘in the system’ – next stop is finding the person who will hopefully help etc thrive and leave with a tonne of skills and connections that will help them enter the jobs market and – whilst not to sound too grandiose – make their mark on the world.

If you’ve considered taking on an apprentice but have time and again put it to the bottom of your ‘to research’ list, or if you haven’t heard of the Kickstarter scheme, I wanted to give you the basic information below, and then hope you’ll take an hour or two to simply get on with it.

The cost – apprentices cost you nothing

  • 100% of salary is covered by the government. National minimum wage for 25 hours a week including National Insurance and auto enrolment contributions.
  • You receive a grant of £1,500 upfront from the government to cover onboarding your new apprentice.

The government are covering 25 hours a week at the minimum wage for six months. The cost to you is ZERO. You only pay for any further hours you want your apprentice to do and (and in my case a £600 fee to GradFuel who are helping me through the application and finding the right person on their database).  Over 6 months and 25 hours a week I’d say that’s worthwhile. This scheme ends in December, and by that, I mean your last chance to take on an apprentice – and have the cost covered – is between now and December 31st (apprentices taken on in December will still have the next 6 months covered).

The talent

You can get an apprentice on the government scheme from aged 16 – 24. These are digital natives who will likely pick up tasks and systems with ease. Some are new to the workplace, others are currently unemployed due to Covid 19. Imagine if you could give one (or all) of your direct reports an enthusiastic, quick person to help them 25 hours a week. How much time would that free up for them to concentrate on other things, or indeed improve their skills as a manager?

So how do you go about getting an apprentice? Things to know…

  • Anyone on PAYE can apply get an apprentice
  • you can get an apprentice at a ratio of 3:1 (so if you had 33 employees you could technically take on 11 apprentices (you probably wouldn’t but just to prove the point).
  • You tell Gradfuel about your business, put together a plan on what you envisage your apprentice(s) will be doing whilst they are with you – and the skills they will develop and leave with
  • There’s no commitment beyond the six months

Get the ball rolling

Get in touch with Gradfuel and they’ll take you through it all on a call, I spoke to Jemma Atkinson and she’s happy to talk to anyone who might be interested in finding out more. You can book some time in with her, here.  

It’s worth adding that this is only my own understanding of the Kickstarter scheme, and it’s definitely worth speaking to someone to confirm the finer details. I hope the above was helpful, and whilst it probably was a bit earnest, all the research has made me even more sure that taking on an apprentice is a great thing to do.

Let me know how you get on.

A reminder you can sign up to my short weekly email, Rambling On, here. I pack in a few articles each week on business, culture and general musing which you’ll hopefully find useful and interesting.


Every Wednesday I book out an hour to hold a FREE agency leaders surgery. If you have something on your mind, a challenge you’re wrestling with or just want an alternative point of view, I’d be very happy to lend an ear and maybe help you start to unpick the issues. You can help yourself to my calendar, here. Speaking to a diverse group of agency leaders helps me stay current and contextualise the issues I’m seeing with my clients. So please see this conversation as a genuine collaboration where we both hope to learn something new.


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If you have something on your mind, a challenge you’re wrestling with or just want an alternative point of view, I’d be very happy to lend an ear and maybe help you start to unpick the issues.