Should You Take on a Welding Apprentice in 2024?

Posted by BOC

Should you take on a welding apprentice

The UK welding industry is facing a skills crisis.

Over the past five years the number of welders has shrunk by around a quarter, while half of those that remain are expected to retire by 2027.

Your own business may have found it difficult to recruit – experienced welders are in high demand, with 100 new vacancies being advertised on leading recruitment websites every month.

It may be time to think differently and look to the future. A welding apprentice could help to fill your skills gap, if you’re prepared to allow time for their training.

In this Q&A we look at apprenticeships; how they work, the potential benefits for your business, and how to get started.

1. What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship combines practical, on-the-job training, with relevant study.

Apprentices enter your business as an employee and receive all of the benefits that employment provides – wages and holiday pay, work experience, the opportunity to learn from your more experienced staff, and develop real-world skills – but they also get the time they need to train and study for their role.

2. How do apprenticeships work?

In the UK, all employers must use the Government’s apprenticeship service to access apprenticeship training to meet their needs.

Once you’ve set up an account, you’ll be able to:

  • access and manage apprenticeship funding
  • advertise your apprenticeship vacancy or find an apprentice
  • choose an apprenticeship training course and find a provider.
There are significant financial benefits to employing an apprentice. Smaller businesses share the cost of training and assessment with the Government – you only have to pay 5% while the Government pays the rest.

You can even get a further £1000 to support your apprentice in your workplace if they fall within a certain age group or have previously received local authority care.

Your apprentice will typically work within your business for 80% of their week, with 20% spent training with their training provider. This usually works out at four days per week at work, and one day out.

Apprenticeships can take any time from between one to five years – though a typical welding apprenticeship takes 18 months to complete.

3. What are the benefits of apprenticeships for welding businesses?

The fact that the Government bears 95% of the cost of training your apprentice is a significant benefit – aside from the remaining 5%, you just have to meet the cost of their wage.

According to skills organisation, The St Martin’s Group, most employers actually boost their revenue by taking on an apprentice; earning between £2,500 and £18,000 during their training period, based on the value their new skills deliver.

Beyond the financial benefits, however, is the fact that you’ll be bringing entirely fresh talent into your workshop. They’ll be learning on the job, in your environment, so you can slot them into your team and mould them according to the needs of your business. There will be no preconceptions around how things should be done; just how you would like them to be done. What’s more, when their training is over, their transition from apprentice to employee should be seamless.

4. Are there any drawbacks?

You’ll need to allow for the fact that your apprentice will spend around a day a week away from work in order to train – but view their learning as beneficial to your entire business. If your apprentices have been trained in the latest techniques and safe processes, they may help to refresh your knowledge.

Of course there’s also the possibility that once your apprentice has completed their training with you, they may leave to work elsewhere – but this is where your recruitment practices and working conditions come into play. If you offer your apprentice a healthy wage and benefits, demonstrate a clear career path and put a plan in place for their future development, there’s a very good chance they’ll stick with you.

5. How much energy will you need to put into an apprenticeship?

As with everything, you’ll get out what you put in. Their training provider won’t teach them everything, so you’ll need to create a programme of on-the-job training for when they’re at work.

Make use of your more experienced staff and assign your apprentice a mentor who is knowledgeable, good at communicating, and happy to take responsibility for their training. Set clear goals to benchmark progress and be sure to reward both your apprentice and their mentor for their efforts.

6. How do you go about setting a welding apprenticeship up?

The Government provides lots of information about hiring and training an apprentice on its website – including how to find a training provider in your area.

For more information on the benefits of apprenticeships, visit