What Happens At The End Of An Apprenticeship?


Most employers have a clear goal when hiring an apprentice – whether that’s to fill a skills gap, increase their capacity or boost talent in a limited recruitment pool. 18 months down the line when the apprentice completes their programme, it’s common for this goal to get lost. Employers that help apprentices map their next steps tend to be the ones that retain the talent they’ve grown, while apprentices left in limbo will move on in the next 1-2 years. In this post, we’ll discuss your options following the end of an apprenticeship programme and how you can maximise your investment by retaining quality talent.

Offering employment at the end of an apprenticeship

Depending on the type of contract you have with your apprentice, their employment may roll over automatically. If not, you’ll need to decide whether you want to offer a permanent contract. If they’ve already been in the business for 12-18 months, they’re probably worth holding onto, but use this as an opportunity to take stock. Have they been proactive and motivated in their learning? Have their professional and interpersonal skills improved during the programme? If not, your business may not be the right fit for them. Before you ask anyone to move on, take the time to sit with them and work out what kind of role might be a better fit. If you can, use your network to make introductions.

Hiring another apprentice

Now you’ve proved the success of apprenticeships internally, you may want to hire a second apprentice or even a cohort. Before making a decision, ensure you will have enough time to dedicate to each of your direct reports, including your recently completed apprentice. If you’re bringing on a cohort of several apprentices, do you need an FTE to manage the programme? Many employers make the mistake of asking the apprentice that has just completed to line manage a new apprentice. While they may make a good buddy, they’re often not equipped with the management skills required to lead a team. If apprenticeships are going to be part of your recruitment strategy going forward, you ideally need someone with experience in growing junior talent on board.

Improving retention at the end of an apprenticeship

The best way to ensure an apprentice stays at your company past the end of their apprenticeship is to understand their goals at the beginning of the programme and keep coming back to them. If your apprentice’s objective is to earn £30,000 by their third year, help them map out what they need to do to achieve this and review their progress in your 1-2-1s. Don’t forget your company’s objectives either. If you hired an apprentice to become an expert in SQL, ensure they’re supporting on any SQL projects and don’t just end up with the work no one else wants to do. Remember – everyone has different motivations, what works for one individual won’t work for another.

We hope this post has helped you identify your options once your apprentice completes their programme. By regularly referring back to your goals and those of your apprentice throughout the apprenticeship, you’ll be able to maximise your investment and retain the right people.