Several years ago, the 4 Hour Work Week created a flood of new entrepreneurs that were cash strapped and feeling pressure to grow. The promise of cheap help had many of them creating apprenticeships.

That trend has long passed as we prepare to hire our first apprentice under the Steward brand (job posting here: Hiring a WordPress Developer Apprentice . )

Why an apprentice? And why now?

After my end-of-the year annual reflection, I decided to focus this year on trying to create more of a sense of meaning in my life. One of the causes that I care about is poverty. And one of my values is helping others grow (rather than rescuing them.) After much brainstorming, I realized that my business provided a platform that could meet both needs in the form of an apprenticeship for people from low income backgrounds.

Beyond being meaningful, there are advantages to apprentices:

  • They don’t bring industry baggage and are encultured to your business’s values and beliefs as their “normal.”
  • They enable you to get ideal employees because you’re willing to hire a “diamond in the rough” that others overlook due to their current lack of ability.
  • They’re more engaged because they want to grow and improve.

On the downside, apprenticeships are slow and require you to build the capacity to develop others.

They’re also risky, as it’s a deferred investment where you get your return over time. In researching other businesses that hired apprentices, there’s a trend of 1-3 apprentices falling away for every apprentice that graduates to becoming a stable employee.

Overall, it’s a long view strategy for building a team that is a bet on culture and relationships.

There are lots of ways you can work with people. How does your method for sourcing help affect your ability to grow and adapt?

Featured image of a medieval baker and his apprentice from from Maggie Black’s “Medieval Cookbook” used under Public Domain