Frequently Asked Questions by Employers

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 the industry.

What is off-the-job training (OJT)?

Off-the-job training is defined as learning which is undertaken outside of the normal day-to-day working environment and leads towards the achievement of an apprenticeship. This can include training that is delivered at the apprentice’s normal place of work but must not be delivered as part of their normal working duties.

Take a look at the myth-busting fact sheet attached

What is an Apprenticeship Framework?

Apprenticeships Frameworks are made up of a framework of qualifications. This means apprentices will achieve a range of qualifications as they progress through their training and education.

Each apprenticeship framework generally includes the following elements:

  • A knowledge-based qualification
  • A competence-based qualification
  • Functional skills in English, maths and sometimes ICT, depending on the apprenticeship framework
  • Employee rights and responsibilities
  • Personal learning and thinking skills

What is an Apprenticeship Standard?

Standards were introduced in 2015, with the intention of replacing frameworks in all sectors by 2020.  A standard contains a list of the skills, knowledge and behaviours an apprentice will need to have learned by the end of their apprenticeship. Standards are occupation-focused; they are not qualification-led. The learning happens throughout the apprenticeship. And the apprentice is assessed at the end. They need to prove that they can carry out all aspects of their job. They develop transferable skills and gain credibility too.

All apprentices undertaking a standard need to pass an End Point Assessment (EPA) before they’re awarded their qualification.

What is End Point Assessment (EPA)?

An End Point Assessment (EPA) is the final step in the apprenticeship journey for employers and apprentices. The assessment allows apprentices to demonstrate that they’ve developed all the competencies (skills), knowledge and behaviours outlined in the Standard to prove they’re able to do the job they’ve been training for throughout their programme. The End Point Assessment will be different, it depends on the qualification.

Who can study for an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are not ‘just for young people’ – anyone can study for an apprenticeship if they meet the key criteria. In April 2017, eligibility rules were altered to allow individuals to undertake apprenticeships at a similar or lower level than any previous qualifications they held, making it easier for people to retrain in a new field.

Can my current employees enrol onto an Apprenticeship?

Yes, Apprenticeship Framework & Standard qualifications are not for recruiting apprentices into your business. Many companies use Apprenticeship programmes to upskill their existing employees and include it as part of their learning and development scheme and CPD.

What is the age limit for apprentices?

There is no upper age limit. Apprentices must be 16 years old when they begin their apprenticeship and are eligible to live and work in England.

How much should I pay my apprentice?

All apprentices must be paid at least the Apprenticeship National Minimum Wage relevant to their age. Existing employees that become an apprentice would maintain the same terms and conditions of employment, with the addition of the Apprenticeship Agreement.

Can I pay them more than National minimum wage?

An employee’s status as an apprentice affects the minimum wage you can pay, but there’s no upper limit. Many of our apprentices receive pay rises and promotions prior to completing their course due to strong performance.

How much does the apprenticeship cost me?

This depends on the programme you choose, and whether your company is paying the Apprenticeship Levy or not.

If you’re not paying the Apprenticeship Levy, you pay just 5% of the total cost of apprenticeship training – the government co-invests the other 95% for you. If you are a non-levy paying employer, have less than 50 employees and the employee/new apprentice who is enrolling is 16-18 you will receive 100% funding.

What is the Apprenticeship Levy?

Apprenticeship levy – What is it?

The government has introduced the apprenticeship levy to help fund three million new apprenticeships by 2020. The levy has been applied to all industries in the UK.

As a result this applies to the largest UK employers at a rate of 0.5 percent of their wage bill. Being collected through PAYE.

Who pays the apprenticeship levy?

Employers in the UK that have an annual wage bill of £3 million and over will now need to pay the levy. This includes the public sector, charities and educational providers. Along with academies and universities.

It is estimated that 2% of all employers currently engaged in government-funded apprenticeships. Will now be required to contribute via PAYE. In addition, the same 2% will also receive a 10% top up each month from the government based on their monthly contribution.

What happens to employers who do not need to pay the levy?

Non-levy paying employers are now required to make a 5% contribution (direct to the provider of choice and not via PAYE) for the training that each of their apprentices receives. The government will provide the 95% balance.

What is AS (Apprenticeship Service)?

This new online portal is now accessible for all levy payers. AS lists all of the employer’s funds available to spend on apprenticeship training.

The employer will select their provider of choice through AS from a list of approved apprenticeship providers.

If you are a levy paying employer and are yet to register, follow the link below to get started: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/manage-apprenticeship-funds

Access for non-paying levy employers will roll out from 2018.

Latest official government updates can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apprenticeship-levy-how-it-will-work/apprenticeship-levy-how-it-will-work

Still unsure if your organisation will be liable for the new apprenticeship levy tax?. If you are, do you know how much you will have to contribute via PAYE?.

Use this simple online tool to get your answers! (You’ll need to know your organisation’s annual UK payroll)

We have a dedicated ‘reforms’ inbox for our customers. Email reforms@smarttar.co.uk with any queries you have regarding these new changes. A response will be with you within 1 working day.

The new apprenticeship reforms have brought with them some exciting employer incentives, to find out more information, please visit our Funding & Costs page.

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 to include:

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

What are my responsibilities as an employer?

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 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
  • apprentices who are paid a wage consistent with the law for the time they are in work and in off-the-job training, updates on progression and average weekly hours and changes to working patterns must be logged and checked with the training provider.

How did the Government reforms affect apprenticeships?

The government has reformed the way apprenticeships are delivered and funded in England. Its ambition is to increase the number of high-quality apprenticeships that meet the needs of employers.

As part of the reforms, apprenticeships are more rigorous, better structured, independently assessed and more clearly aligned with the needs of employers. The reforms address the skills shortages reported by many industries and help keep the UK internationally competitive. Most importantly, apprenticeships offer high-quality opportunities for people to develop their talents and progress in their careers.

Recent legislation has come into effect which changes the minimum English and maths requirements needed to complete an apprenticeship for people with a learning difficulty or disability. The changes will lower the English and maths requirements for these apprentices to an Entry Level 3 qualification. It will make completing an apprenticeship more achievable for those who are able to meet all the occupational requirements to be fully competent in their role, but who may struggle to achieve English and maths qualifications at the level normally required.

‘T levels’ are new technical study programmes that will sit alongside apprenticeships from September 2020. The reforms are at the heart of a skills partnership between government, business and training providers – a partnership that will create the skills revolution needed to meet the needs of our business and education and training providers – a partnership that will create the skills revolution needed to meet the needs of our economy. The government is doubling the annual level of apprenticeship spending between 2010 to 2011 and 2019 to 2020 to £2.5bn, which will be funded by the new apprenticeship levy.

Can I hire more than one apprentice?

Yes, you can hire as many apprentices as you want – there’s no limit.

How do I know if I have the right training solution for my organisation?

Smart Training and Recruitment can meet with you to discuss your individual business needs and create a bespoke/tailored training package. Our dedicated consultants will also maintain regular contact with you to support the delivery of training and ensure that your workforce is being developed effectively.

How do Apprenticeship Levy Transfers work?

Transfers are being introduced to give levy-paying employers more flexibility in how they spend their apprenticeship service funds. They can now be used to fund apprenticeships in another organisation. Funds will be transferred monthly for the duration of the apprenticeship. This means that levy-paying employers can work with another employer to help them take on apprentices, increasing the skills base in their supply chain, sector or local area.

How many hours/days does the learner need to attend college with you?

Unlike many other training providers, our courses are delivered at your workplace without the need for learners to leave their place of work to complete the course.

What happens when a recruited apprentice finishes their qualification?

Once an apprentice completes their course, you are able to decide whether you wish to continue employing them as a full-time member of staff. If you decide to do so, you will be required to increase their salary to that of a full-time member of staff in-line with standard NMW requirements. If you would like to continue training your apprentice, you can enrol them onto a further training course at a higher level.

What happens when my employee finishes their qualification?

Once your employee has finished their course they will receive their certificates to certify their course completion. If you would like to continue training your employees, you can enrol them onto a further training course at a higher level.