So would your business benefit from taking an apprentice on?

To help you make that decision, MacGregor suggests you ask yourself some questions:

Could taking on an apprentice help my business expand and help me to take on more work?

Have you thought about growing your business and therefore another pair of hands might help?

Do I have the right range and scope of work for an apprentice and can I support their training needs?

Can I afford to take them on? Although they are in training, they still count as a member of staff.

If you’ve struggled to find staff with the right skills, need an extra pair of hands, or would like to help secure the future of your business through training up a young person, there’s an apprentice out there for you, he says.

How to find the right apprentice for your business

MacGregor warns that every apprentice will require time from his/her employers, as well as a financial commitment, “and no-one wants to make a commitment to training someone to find they’re not a good fit for their business, or don’t stay the course. That’s why it’s vital that when you do decide to take on an apprentice, you’re sure that they’re the right person for your business,” he says.

Top of the list is a respectable apprenticeship agency so you can be assured of a good standard and range of candidates to choose from, he says. (But then I suppose he would do). For example, ConstructionSkills apprentices have all passed a screening test in advance and offer them and you support throughout the apprenticeship.

MacGregor continues: “If your potential apprentice is straight out of school, ask about grades, punctuality and attendance. Don’t be afraid to ask for school reports to back this up or references from previous employers or teachers. If you are taking on a programme-led apprentice who has completed time at college, you will automatically have access to grades, punctuality, attendance and in-house behaviour passed on via ConstructionSkills. You should also ask your potential apprentice about how they feel about variable hours and working in all weathers, so they are aware of the hours and conditions that come with the job.”

What kind of working environment would they have to deal with?

What type of work is available?

What sort of person would get on with your other employees?

What type of person would impress your clients?

Additionally, he says, think about what sort of apprenticeship structure would suit your business best. Traditional apprenticeships involve a day-release or block-release programme over two or three years, which means that your apprentice will not always be on site.

Once a business has spent time and effort recruiting the right apprentice for their business, it’s all too easy to forget that the employer still needs to make sure that the apprentice settles in and is supported so that they don’t leave before their training is complete. Although each business is different, there are some key steps all companies can take to help retain their apprentices throughout training and beyond.

The most common problems raised by apprentices, according to MacGregor, are pay, travel and expenses for travel. The most common problems raised by employers in managing and supporting apprentices, are pay, time-keeping and attendance at college. However, with tens of thousands of apprentices qualifying every year, these problems are far from insurmountable.

The most common things which employers forget to do prior to an apprentice joining, which can end up causing difficulties for both apprentice and employer alike, are forgetting to: supply full personal protective equipment (PPE); negotiate pay upfront; and set up terms and conditions and a contract before the apprentice starts, says MacGregor.

Where does your business stand on apprentices?

Do they represent a sensible way to recruit in the lifting business?

You can track Robert MacGregor down at or call +44 (0)844 844 0046.

Richard Howes, Editor

PS – There’s some links of interest below, including a few more videos I’ve found whilst browsing YouTube recently. First though, is the belated digital version of the April issue. Sorry for the delay: