Apprenticeship guidance for employers

Apprenticeships are an extremely cost effective, efficient and practical way of training your workforce so they have the relevant skills and qualifications to do the job.

Organisations can shape apprentices approach to work from an early age. Not only can you equip them with the basic skills needed, you get the chance to create the ideal employee for your organisation.

As a result, your organisation is more likely to:

  • improve its bottom line
  • fill skills gaps
  • keep up with the latest industry developments
  • gain motivated and satisfied workers

What is an apprenticeship?

  • Apprenticeships are work based programmes that enable young people and adults to gain nationally recognised qualifications. They do this through a mix of training off the job with the provider or college and in the workplace
  • Apprentices are either new or existing employees who have signed up to an Apprenticeship through their employer or individuals who have been matched with an employer to start a career in their chosen occupation

The benefits of an apprentice

  • The apprentice will obtain a training qualification relating to the role.
  • The apprentice will work towards the full job profile by the end of the apprenticeship
  • You can mould and shape the apprentice to your service needs
  • Recruiting apprentices enables employers to fill the skills gaps that exist within the current workforce

What is a framework or standard?

There are a number of elements to each apprenticeship and this is called a framework. This means learners will gain a range of qualifications as they progress through their training.

Each framework contains three main parts:

  • a competence based qualification
  • a knowledge based qualification
  • functional skills


Over time, all apprenticeship frameworks will be replaced by the new apprenticeship standards.

What different levels of apprenticeship are there?

There are various levels of apprenticeships available. What level you start at would depend on your current qualifications and the opportunities available in the sector you are interested in.

Intermediate Apprenticeship

(Level 2; equivalent to five good GCSE passes) : provides you with the skills and qualifications for your chosen career and allow entry (if desired) to an Advanced Apprenticeship. To be accepted you need to be enthusiastic, keen to learn and have a reasonable standard of education.

Advanced Apprenticeship

(Level 3; equivalent to two A-level passes): to start this programme, you should have five GCSEs (grade A*-C) or have completed an Intermediate Apprenticeship. This will provide you with the skills and qualifications you need for your career and allow entry (if desired) to a Higher Apprenticeship or degree level qualification.

Higher Apprenticeship

(Level 4/7; equivalent to a Foundation Degree): to start this programme, you should have a Level 3 qualification (A-Levels, Advanced Diploma or International Baccalaureate) or have completed an Advanced Apprenticeship.

Degree Apprenticeship

For Levels 6 and 7, which are intended to be equivalent to a bachelor's degree and a master’s degree respectively, the new 'Apprenticeship Standards' body is encouraging suppliers of these courses to convert them into actual 'Degree Apprenticeships', with the awarding of full undergraduate degrees as part of the programme.

How does it work?

Apprentices must be in paid employment and working a minimum of 30 hours a week before they can be offered a training programme. The maximum a 16 to 18 year old can work is 40 hours a week and this includes time out of the workplace for attending training sessions either at work or college.

How much should I pay an apprentice?

The government has accepted a recommendation from the Low Pay Commission (LCP) to introduce an Apprentice minimum wage. This is currently £3.40 an hour and is reviewed annually. The rate will apply to Apprentices under 19 and Apprentices aged 19 and over. The National Minimum Wage for age must then be paid for any consecutive years.

Can anyone over the age of 16 undertake an apprenticeship?

Not everyone is eligible to undertake an Apprenticeship. Individuals who have a Level 4 or higher qualification for example HNC, Degree, NVQ Level 4 are not eligible to access Apprenticeship funding.

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