Top 10 tips to make hiring apprentices work for your organisation

Marek Zemanik, CIPD’s senior public policy adviser for Scotland, shares tips on how to get the best out of apprentices. 

Work-based learning, and apprenticeships in particular, benefit employers and young people in many ways. Organisations can recruit talent, get different perspectives in the workplace, and train the next generation of skilled employees. Apprentices can learn skills at work and gain relevant qualifications that will set them up for a successful career in their chosen field while learning a large array of transferable skills that also support them to continue to develop long after they have qualified. 

Our research shows that there are key benefits for organisations that recruit apprentices:

  • 80% of employers have maintained or improved future skills in the business.
  • 70% of employers have seen improvements in the goods and services they offer.
  • 66% of employers have experienced improved staff morale.

Use our top 10 tips to ensure your apprenticeship programme is successful:

  1. Apprenticeships need to be embedded in a workforce planning approach, with clear business benefits as part of a long-term strategy on workforce growth and skills development.
  2. A successful apprenticeship programme needs clarity about the role that apprentices play in the organisation, job design which ensures on- and off-the-job learning and development, and a shared understanding of how they will be supported and by whom.
  3. Winning the support of the existing workforce, senior management, people managers and trade unions is crucial. People managers in particular need the right tools to support the apprentice journey.
  4. On and off the job training needs to be high quality and tailored to both the apprentice's and employer's needs. To achieve this, the relationship with the training provider needs to be managed carefully.
  5. Recruiting apprentices may differ from the usual recruitment procedure, especially when the candidate is particularly young (aged 16-18) and has no prior work experience. Consider alternative recruitment methods and techniques.
  6. It's important to be aware of the legal framework: Apprentices are covered by a contract of employment and have similar rights to other employees; however, they have greater protection under the law than most employees.
  7. To ensure success, the apprentice needs to be placed at the heart of the apprenticeship programme and employers must provide ongoing support, pastoral care and mentoring. Good management of apprentices is vital to ensure they adapt to the workplace and continue to grow with the business.
  8. Employers need to make sure they provide fair access to their apprenticeship schemes and widen the talent pool from which they recruit in terms of gender, ethnicity and diversity.
  9. There are three different types of apprenticeships in Scotland (Modern, Foundation and Graduate) across several qualification levels with over a hundred different frameworks. You can find information for employers on how Scottish apprenticeships work at
  10. Apprenticeship Levy payers - and SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) - can also access smaller training opportunities via the Flexible Workforce Development Fund. 

You can find more CIPD guidance for apprenticeships in the CIPD Apprenticeships fact sheet. Please also visit to find out more from Skills Development Scotland (SDS) on their great apprenticeship support for individuals and organisations.

The CIPD in Scotland is a member of the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board (SAAB). SAAB provides advice and makes recommendations on the guiding principles, operational policy and the systems and structures that support apprenticeships in Scotland.

Please share your stories of how apprenticeships have helped your organisation using #ScotAppWeek23 and #UnlockingPotential.