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Apprenticeships: FAQs

Jen Robson for <a href='' target='_blank'>North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP)</a>

Created by Jen Robson for North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP), 7th March 2018


What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a genuine job with an accompanying assessment and skills development programme. It is a way for individuals to earn while they learn gaining valuable skills and knowledge in a specific job role. The apprentice gains this through a wide mix of learning in the workplace, formal off-the-job training and the opportunity to practise new skills in a real work environment. Apprenticeships benefit employers and individuals, and by boosting the skills of the workforce they help to improve economic productivity.

How do they work?

Apprentices must spend at least 20% of their time on off-the-job training, however, they may need more than this if, for example, they need training in English and maths. It is up to the employer and training provider to decide how the off-the-job training is delivered. It may include regular day release, block release and special training days or workshops. It must be directly relevant to the apprenticeship framework or standard and can be delivered at the apprentice’s normal place of work as long as it is not part of their normal working duties. It can cover practical training such as shadowing, mentoring, industry visits and attending competitions.

On-the-job training helps an apprentice develop the specific skills for the workplace and they should be supported by a mentor.

Once an apprentice completes their apprenticeship they should be able to demonstrate that they can perform tasks confidently and completely to the standard set by industry.

Are there different apprenticeship levels to study?

Yes and they are:

  • Intermediate Level 2
  • Advanced Level 3
  • Higher Level’s 4, 5 ,6 and 7
  • Degree Levels 6 and 7

To find out more on degree and higher level apprenticeships, click here.

Who are apprenticeships for?

Individuals over the age of 16, spending at least 50% of their working hours in England over the duration of their apprenticeship and not in full-time education can apply for an apprenticeship.

Employers can offer apprenticeships to new entrants or use them to grow talent from among current employees.

Apprenticeships equip individuals with the necessary skills, knowledge and behaviour they need for specific job roles, future employment and progression.

What are the benefits of hiring apprentices?

Hiring an apprentice is a productive and effective way for any business to grow talent and develop a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce.

Employers who have an established apprenticeship programme reported that productivity in their workplace had improved by 76% whilst 75% reported that apprenticeships improved the quality of their product or service.

Other benefits that apprenticeships contribute towards include:

  • increasing employee satisfaction
  • reducing staff turnover
  • reducing recruitment costs

What are the employers responsibilities?

There must be a genuine job available with a contract of employment long enough for an apprentice to complete their apprenticeship. Employers must pay an apprentice’s wages and the role must help them gain the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need to achieve the apprenticeship with support from the employer.

Employers can select a training provider from the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers and agree a total price for the cost of training and assessment. For an apprenticeship standard, this should include the cost of the end-point assessment which must be agreed with the provider selected from the Register of End-Point Assessment Organisations.

Employers need to have:

  •  an apprenticeship agreement in place with their apprentice for the duration of the apprenticeship
  •  a commitment statement signed by the apprentice, their employer and the provider
  •  a written agreement with providers, for employers who pay the apprenticeship levy and use the apprenticeship service, they will need to have a contract for services with their main provider
  •  an apprenticeship in place for at least one year
  •  the apprentice on the correct wage for their age, for the time they are in work, in off-the-job training and doing further study

We have produced a step-by-step guide for employers who want to start recruiting apprentices.

What is the apprenticeship levy?

If you’re an employer with a pay bill over £3 million a year, you must pay the apprenticeship levy from 6 April 2017. You will report and pay your levy to HMRC through the PAYE process.

The levy will not affect the way you fund training for apprentices who started an apprenticeship programme before 1 May 2017. You’ll need to carry on funding training for these apprentices under the terms and conditions that were in place at the time the apprenticeship started.

Less than 2% of UK employers pay the levy. Levy funds will create opportunities for young people across the country, delivering the skills British businesses need.

The levy will give employers control of their training, agree a total price for each apprenticeship, which includes the costs of training and assessment.

In England*, the government will top up employers’ levy with an extra 10%, paid directly to employers’ apprenticeship accounts.

An employer’s pay bill is made up of the total amount of the employees’ earnings that are subject to Class 1 National Insurance contributions, such as:

  • wages
  • bonuses
  • commissions
  • pension contributions

We cover the basics of apprenticeship levy in this infographic.

What about non-levy-paying employers?

Employers with a pay bill of less than £3 million a year will not need to pay the levy.

At least 90% of non-levy-paying employers’ apprenticeship training and assessment costs in England will be paid for by the government. The government will ask these employers to make a 10% cash contribution to the cost, paid directly to the provider, and the government covers the rest (up to the maximum agreed funding band).

How do I get started?

There are a number of steps you need to take, including choosing the right providers, funding for your apprenticeship and contracts. We outline these steps in this infographic.

Further support (The Apprenticeship Service)

Through the apprenticeship service on employers can plan and manage their apprenticeship programme, giving them greater control over their apprenticeships and account funds.

The apprenticeship service is made up of the following:

  • Estimate my apprenticeship funding allows employers to calculate whether they will pay the apprenticeship levy or not, and how much they will have available to spend on apprenticeships. It also shows all employers how much the government will contribute towards the cost of training.
  • Find apprenticeship training gives employers easy-to-digest information on the choices available to them. They can easily search for and find a standard, framework and training provider, and compare one provider with another.
  • Recruit an apprentice is a new platform through which training providers can post vacancies and manage applications for apprenticeships and traineeships. This will be opened up to employers at a later date.
  • Find an apprenticeship and Find a traineeship are the recruitment sites that enable employers to advertise their vacancies for free and find candidates who match their criteria.
  • Manage apprenticeships allows registered levy-paying employers to view their account balance, manage their apprentices and approve funds to pay for their apprenticeship training.

*Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive a share of the levy – the Devolved Administrations will receive £460 million. As skills is a devolved matter it will be for them to decide how levy funds should be used in their administrations.

Ready to get started? We have a number of apprenticeship providers listed on our Business Support pages and you can access other resources and tools to help you on your apprenticeship journey on our Apprenticeship Toolkit.

Jen Robson for <a href='' target='_blank'>North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP)</a>

Created by Jen Robson for North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP), 2 years ago, [last edited 1 year ago]