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.

Are there different levels of apprenticeship?

There are various levels of apprenticeship available:

  • Intermediate Apprenticeship Level 2 – Apprentices gain the equivalent of five GCSEs at grades A-C
  • Advanced Apprenticeship Level 3 – Apprentices gain the equivalent of two A-Levels.
  • Higher Apprenticeship Level 4, 5, 6 and 7 – Apprentices gain the equivalent of a Foundation degree
  • Degree Apprenticeship Levels 6 and 7 – Apprentices gain the equivalent of a Bachelor’s or master’s degree

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 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 my 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 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.

What were the Apprenticeship reforms?

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 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.

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