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How Apprenticeships Can Benefit Your Company's Bottom Line Training entry-level workers is a rare win-win for workers and their employers.

By John Boitnott

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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A recent report by McKinsey found that approximately 14.7 million U.S. workers under may face job displacement due to automation by 2030. Younger folks entering the workforce have traditionally turned to jobs in retail and food service, and both of these sectors are due to turn toward automation to replace human employees. That means a significant portion of the population will be out of a job.

While apprenticeships are already well known as a job-training opportunity for electricians and others with skilled trades, they can also be a solid alternative to technical college or other classroom instruction. Apprenticeships not only benefit employees in a changing world, but also can be beneficial for companies.

Here are a few reasons why small business owners should leverage apprenticeship training to help their business.

1. An apprenticeship system builds a skilled workforce.

By taking on entry-level workers as apprentices, you'll be able to further the professional development of your workforce, especially young people. You can take this opportunity to train professionals not just in their chosen field, but specifically for your organization. By the time they're full-time employees, apprentices will not just develop job skills in your industry. They'll be familiar with how your company operates, best practices and skills specific to your organization.

Related: For Entrepreneurs, Apprenticeship Is the Ideal Solution

2. Improve job satisfaction.

Engaged employees are happy employees, and happy employees tend to stick around. Employee turnover is expensive, as organizations have to spend time, energy and money identifying and interviewing job seekers for open positions. Moreover, high turnover rates point to internal problems with company culture and a lack of job satisfaction among staff. You can use apprenticeship opportunities as a way to improve job satisfaction and, as a result, worker retention rates. A study conducted by the UK government found an average of 73 percent of former apprentices stayed with the company that trained them.

Essentially, apprentices tend to be loyal to the organization that taught them important skills. This type of workforce development also boosts employee engagement and morale. When people are constantly learning, they end up more enthusiastic and faithful to the people providing that education.

3. Consider apprenticeships a trial run.

Many companies put timelines on apprenticeships and other training programs. They're run as a program with a specific timeframe, whether that's six weeks, six months or a year, depending on the field. During that time, you'll create a high-quality workforce ready to work for you for the long haul.

If you offer apprenticeship programs, you'll be able to see who may be a future fit for your company. You don't have to risk making a bad hire on an unknown quantity. You're not obligated to hire someone after they've gone through an apprenticeship. Simply use it to evaluate who might make a good hire or who should work elsewhere. This is why most small business owners tend to like the return on investment with these programs. By the time you offer a position to a stellar apprentice, you'll know all about their work ethic, skill level, personality and how they contribute to your organization.

Related: Where to Intern If You Really Want to Be an Entrepreneur

4. Save money.

Apprenticeships save companies money, and not just because organizations don't have to rely as much on the costly process of hiring new employees. Because they're in training, companies pay apprentices less than they would full-time employees. This can save you money immediately, while still providing concrete benefits to the company. You'll save money on wages and reap what you sow as you train future staff members.

Make no mistake -- sponsoring apprenticeships requires investment on your end. You'll need to establish a mentorship program, develop training materials and apprenticeship standards and work with people new to the field. If you're offering youth apprenticeships, participants may be new to the workforce entirely. Look at these young people as a return on investment, too. You save money while helping them get college credits, lower their student debt and gain valuable skills. Once the program is over, you have a young employee who's ready to hit the ground running.

In all of these ways and more, you can use apprenticeships to train your team and improve company performance. It creates a positive environment that can help keep your company in the black for years to come.

John Boitnott

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Journalist, Digital Media Consultant and Investor

John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist living in San Francisco. He's written for Venturebeat, USA Today and FastCompany.

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