How to hire an apprentice or trainee for a trade business

So, your trade small business is looking into hiring a tradie apprentice. This is great news for the candidates who may fill the role of your first apprentice, but it’s also great news for your business.

Hiring an apprentice or trainee allows your trade business to train up an eager young up and comer and show them the ropes. And from a personal point of view, as the business owner you will play a lead mentoring role in shaping your new apprentice into a promising trade-qualified professional. But there’s also real benefits for your business as well.

By hiring an apprentice and trainee, your trade business will benefit from having an energetic and motivated new staffer on board who will be keen to learn the ropes and eager to develop on the job trade experience. It can be a handy win-win for your tradie small business and for your new apprentice.

That said, hiring an apprentice can also come with its share of responsibilities that employers should take seriously. With that in mind, here are some of the key considerations to weigh up before bringing an apprentice or trainee into your small business.

Tradie tips for hiring an apprentice

1. Is your tradie business ready to hire an apprentice?

Choosing to hire the first apprentice or trainee for your trade business can be a milestone for a business owner, but it’s important to keep in mind that bringing on an apprentice is typically a long-term investment.

So before you commit to the process and sign up your first apprentice, assess the needs of your business over the coming three to four years. Once you’ve done that, you will know if hiring an apprentice right now is the right move.

2. What makes an apprenticeship great for both parties?

To be successful, an apprenticeship needs to work for both the apprentice and the business owner; after all, an apprenticeship is intended to be a mutually beneficial agreement.

As such, as the employer of your first apprentice, it’s critical to provide a meaningful work environment that can and will equip your new apprentice for a promising future in your trade.

As a first-time apprentice employer, the following five key points may help you to make the process a positive experience for both parties. By considering these points, your trade small business may enjoy the full benefits of hiring an apprentice.

3. Know your apprentice’s goals

Meaningful mentoring is key for a successful apprenticeship. Be ready to commit the time and effort to get to know your apprentice’s career goals and consider how you can help them achieve those goals.

4. Have a structured training plan in place

Ensure your on-the-job training regime is well-planned, thorough, and doesn’t merely rely on completing ad hoc day-to-day tasks. To provide a roadmap, plot out with your apprentice agreed end of year goals for each year of their apprenticeship.

5. Be a great mentor

Be prepared to coach and guide your apprentice. Don’t just tell them what to do; show them how to do it – and do it well. Without great mentorship it can be easy for apprentices to become disengaged. Develop a relationship of trust, listen to your apprentice, and give them constructive feedback where needed.

6. Recognise a job well done

It’s important to recognise the effort and work of your apprentice. This could be as simple as offering positive reinforcement or saying thanks by shouting them to lunch.

7. Reduce the risks

There can be inherent on the job risks in most trade professions. As the owner of a trade small business, you know this well, but your apprentice won’t – unless you teach them about safe work practices and how to reduce their risk.

If your apprentice intends to start their own trade business once they’ve completed their apprenticeship, part of your mentoring of them could include managing risk via insurance for tradesmen, including how to find.

Know your obligations before hiring an apprentice

There are many business advantages to hiring an apprentice, but don’t become blinded by the benefits. Look objectively at the decision to hire or not hire an apprentice. Some important things to consider before hiring your first apprentice include the following:

  • Training and accreditation requirements.
  • Employment rights.
  • Paying your apprentice the correct (and legally required) wage throughout their full apprenticeship).
  • Recognition and reward (assessing their work to validate that they are competent in all required areas of their trade by the end of their apprenticeship.

How to find apprentices

There are a number of methods for finding the apprentice who is the right fit for your business. Like any other employee hiring process, you can advertise your businesses’ need for an apprentice online at job listing sites such as Seek.

Recommended reading: How to Find Good Tradespeople for Your Trade Business

There are also government initiatives such as Apprenticeship Support Australia that can help small business owners prepare to employ their first apprentice. You may also connect with a Registered Training Organisation (RTO); such organisations help to connect budding apprentices with businesses who are seeking to employ an apprentice.

BizCover helps tradie small business owners throughout Australia to reduce the risks to their business through tradie business insurance* made easy. Our customer-focused approach simplifies comparing tradie business insurance quotes and policies, giving business owners a quick and easy way to get their tradie business insurance online and move on with their day. If you prefer to pick up the phone, call us on 1300 920 864 to learn how we can help your business.

*This information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be relied upon as advice. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. © 2022 BizCover Pty Limited, all rights reserved. ABN 68 127 707 975; AFSL 501769.

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