Skip to content.

Safeguarding young apprentices: your future business stars

Last updated: 15 Feb 2024 Topics: Blog
An adult and an apprentice look at a computer

By Christian McMullen, Professional Learning Services Director at the NSPCC

Welcoming new, young apprentices to your business can be an exciting time for all, but protecting these potential future star employees requires thinking about their needs as young people and not just work colleagues

Apprenticeships are a great way for forward-thinking organisations to connect with ambitious young people. Your organisation will have spent a lot of time, effort and money attracting the right candidates, but for everyone to get the most out of the experience you’ll want to make sure they stay safe and well once they’re part of the team.

Protecting these new team members doesn’t just mean making them aware of health and safety procedures or workplace hazards. Young people are often more vulnerable to abuse, neglect and harm in their working and personal lives, so it’s important that you and your organisation know what you need to do to look after your new apprentices.

Starting out can be a tricky time

For many young people, taking up an apprenticeship will be the first time they’ve been in a work environment, lived away from home or had to manage a salary. They’ll have a huge amount of talent and potential but will need support and guidance in making what can be a difficult transition to adulthood.

Some may be experiencing harm outside the workplace or be at heightened risk because of physical or mental health, communication or cognitive difficulties that require additional support from others. Others may be at particular risk of abuse simply because there is an imbalance of power between them and their employer or colleagues.

Simple steps can help make the workplace a safe and welcoming environment for young people and ensure any concerns about their safety or wellbeing are identified and acted upon early.

Supporting young people

Whether the apprenticeship programme is for one year, four years or more you’ll have to understand the unique needs of the young people you’re working with and support them throughout their time with you.

Some businesses have a safeguarding lead whose job it is to keep on top of your responsibilities as an employer and who can keep an eye on issues young people may be facing. Whether or not you employ a safeguarding lead, it’s important that everyone in your organisation is aware of what to look out for and knows what to do if there’s an issue.

Protecting young people from harm is everyone’s responsibility, and if you’re going to do it right, your people will need the right training.

NSPCC is here to help

That’s where the NSPCC can help. As well as providing consultancy and training on safeguarding and child protection, we’ve created our online course Keeping 16- to 25-year-olds safe from abuse.

Developed by our safeguarding experts, it helps everyone in your business to:

  • recognise signs of possible abuse
  • respond appropriately to these signs and provide a response that’s best for the young person
  • understand the correct procedures for reporting any concerns and know who to report to
  • know how to record your observations
  • know the safeguarding responsibilities of individuals and your organisation.

The training is suitable for small, medium or large businesses across all four nations of the UK.

The course is made up of six modules. Each module takes around 30-45 minutes to complete and includes a series of practice scenarios and follow-up questions so that learners can put their knowledge to the test and build their confidence. By embedding training like this into your apprenticeship programme, you can be sure that you're empowering your staff to keep the young people in your organisation safe.

Supporting apprentices goes beyond just offering them their first job: they’ll need your help, guidance and protection every step of the way.

> Find out more about our Keeping 16- to 25-year-olds safe from abuse elearning course


About the author

Christian McMullen is the Professional Learning Services Director for the NSPCC, working to provide expert safeguarding and child protection training and support to external professionals and organisations.