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Why should you hire an intern, work experience student or apprentice?

By partnersinhr, Jun 6 2016 05:16PM

Recruiting a variety of people into your business can be a great way to help workforce planning, invest in the future and encourage fresh innovative ideas & skills.

Welcoming an intern, apprentice or work experience participant on to your team can be a shrewd long term decision, but it can also pay dividends in the short term. First, let's run through the differences between the three and the benefits that they could bring to your business.


Internships usually last between one and six months, but sometimes for as long as a year. Many blue chip companies have long running internship schemes set up to scoop the cream of the graduate talent, but internships can be just as useful for SMEs. While the period can provide very useful productive meaningful experience for the intern, your company can also benefit from having young interconnected people who bring new skills and fresh ideas to the table. By bringing an intern in for a specific project or as additional much needed resource, you will have sufficient time to examine the potential of the individual for a possible temporary or permanent role.

The average annual salary for an undergraduate intern or sandwich placement in the South West in 2015 was £16,968 according to researchers at Rate My Placement. In the past most interns were unpaid but in order to attract the top candidates this is no longer the case

Work experience

While interns are usually under or post graduates, those on work experience are usually of school or college age. Work experience typically lasts for one to two weeks, and in most cases the individual will want to work at your company as it is closely related to the field of their studies. Many companies have built mutually beneficial relationships with local schools and colleges based around an annual work experience arrangement with pupils, and it has been known for pupils to become full time employees at a firm once their studies have ended. Offering social media savvy millennials a chance to experience the world of business can be satisfying for an employer and also provide great PR for your company if they have a positive experience.

The most employers are obligated to pay work experience participants is a sum to cover expenses.


An apprentice is a junior, inexperienced team member brought on board to 'learn the ropes' at a company, often while continuing to work towards an academic or appropriate work based qualification such as NVQs The government has partnered with UK businesses to set up a range of apprenticeship schemes from an intermediate apprenticeship (level 2) all the way up to a degree apprenticeship (levels 6-7). Companies can often access funding and support to enable them to take on an apprenticeship. Offering an apprenticeship is a long term investment as the apprenticeship can last one to four years and requires employers to be a coach and mentor to the apprentice. However, the benefits are training someone in your company environment, helping recruit and train the ‘hard to recruit for’ or specialised roles and ensuring a level of succession planning.

The average UK apprentice salary varies depending on age although the government can provide financial support to apprentices in the first three months of their schemes.

Which is for me?

Depending on your company's main objectives, you could feasibly employ a combination of all three positions at any one time, given the space and the budget. A work experience participant is a good choice to help with tasks which may require more effort than skill. Internships are useful if you are genuinely looking for a new employee, but wish to see their work first hand over a period of time. Meanwhile apprentices could be for you if you have the infrastructure and training time to mould an employee that initially has more enthusiasm than skills.

If you'd like help deciding which of these three options would be best for your company, contact Partners in HR today for some expert advice and support.

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