Don’t just leave apprenticeships to Alan Sugar

Our city’s employment agenda received a huge boost last month, in the form of £4.6m funding for apprenticeships.

It was reported that the Leeds City Region Partnership hopes to generate 2,500 new apprenticeships across Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Kirklees, Calderdale, York, Barnsley and North Yorkshire, by 2015. And further afield, the UK’s support for apprenticeships is really gathering pace.

Employers of all sizes are being encouraged to offer apprenticeships in a bid to tackle the country’s youth unemployment problems and provide candidates with more relevant work-based skills. Yet many organisations fear the apprenticeships route because of perceived costs and risks.

But are these concerns founded, and if so, what can Cascade do to help alleviate your worries?

As you may know, our intuitive software has been designed to remove the administrative burden associated with many HR, business and management processes and procedures. And streamlining the apprenticeships process is no different. For example:

  • Utilising Cascade’s recruitment module you can create a post for the apprenticeship, allowing candidates to apply for the position online. Both company-wide and apprenticeship-specific questions can be asked, and applicants can be automatically screened as they apply, to streamline the workload involved for HR. Some questions can even be critical, so as to automatically reject unsuitable applicants and save further valuable time.

Cascade can manage the ensuing recruitment process too, inviting shortlisted candidates to interview and ensuring they receive all relevant associated correspondence. When the best candidate has been chosen, they can be automatically converted to HR. This means the details that the individual has personally inputted are transferred across thus minimising the data inputting requirement for HR.

  • A new starter process can then be kick-started. Specific workflows can be designed for an apprentice, rather than an ordinary new recruit, with the aim as always to ensure best practice is followed by your organisation. This could begin for example with the issuing of induction documents.
  • Training plans can be devised, managed and monitored using Cascade. Such plans can either be bespoke to each individual, or an apprenticeship training profile can be devised if many recruits are to proceed down the same learning and development path.

Once courses are completed, Cascade can automatically update the employee’s skill set and store evolving skills and competencies. This clearly illustrates what jobs the individual is equipped to do as their apprenticeship evolves. This insight is also incredibly valuable when it comes to the completion of the apprenticeship – it helps to determine if there is a suitable permanent role for the employee.

  • Workflows can trigger important apprenticeship milestones/processes such as a three month review or completion of a probationary period. The software can also ensure that all relevant parties, for example the apprentice, HR representative and line manager, are engaged.
  • Cascade’s salary modelling tool can be utilised to manage any pay increases earned. If the employee is offered a permanent position at the end of the apprenticeship, salary modelling can also help to determine the individual’s pay scale.
  • The cost of apprenticeships can also be monitored against budgets set, which of course aids the business case for offering this employment opportunity. HR can work with management to assess the commercial viability of the apprenticeships route, taking into account training costs, and the fees that would have otherwise been paid to a recruitment agency for a more experienced candidate for example.

In truth these examples only touch the tip of the iceberg. Apprenticeships can be complex, but with the right tools at hand to effectively manage the process, it quickly becomes evident that apprenticeships need not be the costly burden that many companies understandably fear.

As you can see at Cascade we are very supportive of apprenticeships, so much so that we’ve even taken on some of our own – /apprentices-youre-hired/!

To speak to a member of the Cascade team about how our software can help, please contact us on 0113 255 4115 or email


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Cascade HR is a well-established, award-winning provider of fully-integrated HR and payroll software. The company is renowned as much for its quality of project management and ongoing customer service levels, as it is its dynamic technology. Over