People of any age can do an apprenticeship.
From May 2017, the government will fund 90% of the training and assessment costs for people of all ages, and more if the apprentice is aged 16-18 in a small business.
An apprentice is employed by the business and completes their apprenticeship training alongside their main job role.
An existing employee of any age can start an apprenticeship - a great way to build the skills of an existing team.
Or a business can recruit a new employee as an apprentice - the training provider will often help with the recruitment too.
Even if an individual has previously done a degree or another funded qualification, as long as they are gaining ‘substantive new skills’ the government will support it.
Gone are the days when apprenticeships were only based on trades and crafts. There are apprenticeships for job roles in nearly 200 industries, from digital to horticulture, design to maritime.
Whatever your business there is likely to be an apprenticeship to fit. Businesses are also increasingly choosing to provide apprenticeships training across all job functions including HR, accountancy, digital marketing and management.
Frameworks are more plentiful and have been in operation for many years. Frameworks have been developed by Sector Skills Councils and tend to be structured around NVQs and BTECs.
Frameworks are gradually being replaced by Standards, and will disappear completely by 2020, however that’s no reason for an apprentice not to train on a framework if it’s a good fit for the business.
Standards are new apprenticeships developed by groups of employers (Trailblazer Groups).They are built around the Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours (KSBs) required for that job.
Standards have been designed for new apprenticeships, and to replace existing (Framework based) apprenticeships.
So far there are 152 job roles available as Standards, but more are coming online all the time. By 2020 all apprenticeships will be based on Standards.
Standards have assessment at the end of the apprenticeship and are graded.
Apprenticeships are designed to fit with a career path, so an apprentice can start at a level that’s appropriate for the stage of their career. This gives an indication of which level suits which career point:
Level 2 – Entry level
Level 3 – Supervisory / Junior manager
Levels 4 to 7 - Higher / Managerial / Senior Manager
Amongst the higher levels of apprenticeships (6&7), Degree Apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly popular option.
Prior to an entry level apprenticeship, your business could consider offering a Traineeship – these aren’t an apprenticeship, but an opportunity to offer work experience alongside a fully funded training programme (six weeks to a maximum of six months).
You can of course contact a training provider direct if you are already aware of which organisations train in your region or sector.
A training provider in apprenticeships might not necessarily be your local college or similar, there are also specialist training providers, and organisations that deliver nationally, that might be the best fit for your business.
Speak to a few training providers and ask some questions to get an idea of what they can offer your business.
An alternative to a training provider is to work with an Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA) which is an intermediary organisation that manages the apprenticeship process for your business.
Sometimes they even employ the apprentice for the duration of the apprenticeship providing the option for your business to offer employment to the apprentice at the end of the apprenticeship.
When selecting a training provider to work with, don’t just go with the first one you meet. Find out the organisations background and experience in your sector and what additional services they provide.
A good apprenticeship is dependent on the success of the employer – training provider relationship, so don’t be afraid to ask questions to get it right. Here are our suggestions to get you started. A good training provider will be happy to help.
Once you’ve selected a training provider you should create a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to help build a close working relationship. The SLA should set out the responsibilities and duties of each partner, including measures and deadlines that you’ll both follow. If you’re agreeing a financial contract, you’ll need a separate contract in addition to your SLA.
Remember that an existing member of staff can do an apprenticeship, and they can be any age. Apprenticeships range from entry level to senior management, and they can be in a sector speciality, or in an area common to most businesses such as HR, Marketing, Management, or Accountancy. Apprenticeships really are the perfect all round training solution for businesses.
Once you’ve agreed to work with a training organisation, they will add your vacancy on to the Find An Apprenticeship on Gov.uk, so that prospective apprentices can search for it.
Many training providers also have many other routes to finding candidates such as their own job board, or regional job sites.
Be sure to advertise the vacancy yourselves too - add the job to your website and let your contacts know you’re recruiting an apprentice too via social media.
There are websites dedicated to promoting apprenticeship vacancies to school-leavers such as www.getmyfirstjob.co.uk and www.notgoingtouni.co.uk, but remember you can recruit any age of apprentice to benefit from 90% funded training so be sure to advertise the vacancy where your ideal recruit is likely to see it.
If the apprentice is a new employee then the business will need to prepare like it would any other employee, e.g., ensuring there’s a place to work, the necessary equipment, and the required paperwork sent prior to joining. The only additional paperwork for an apprentice is an apprenticeship agreement. Your training provider will often assist with this.
Take a look at ACAS’s Hiring Staff templates which includes two welcome letter templates.
It’s a good idea to prepare the team so that they understand the apprenticeship, are happy to support, and are keen to share their skills and experience.
You could provide fantastic support for the apprentice and draw on the skills and experience of the wider team, by considering how to include these activities into the apprenticeship:
It’s a good idea to create work plan or schedule for the individual’s first week in their new role, this can not only introduce the business it can communicate to the whole business that this is a valued employee. Elements to include are a health and safety briefing, an overview of the business, a tour of the building (including where to get lunch), time with key colleagues, and a few achievable tasks for the first week which will also familiarise them with the business.
The induction schedule can also be a useful document to share with the new starter in a welcome pack to help them to know what to expect and to calm their nerves prior to their first day.
Like any new starter, you will need to provide a health and safety briefing at the beginning of your young employee’s first day, with information on what to do if they have an accident, who the first aider is, what to do if there is a fire and if they need to use any protective clothing or equipment. The employer has the primary responsibility for the health and safety of the apprentice and should be managing any significant risks. The training provider is required to take reasonable steps to ensure the employer is doing this, and often they can be a useful source of information on this area. See the Health and Safety Executive for more information.
Apprentices must be employed for at least 30 hours a week. The minimum hourly rate that must be paid is as follows:
|19+ during the first year of their apprenticeship||£3.50|
All other apprentices must be paid at least the national minimum wage for their age. Many employers offer more than the minimum wage to attract the right candidate. There are no National Insurance Contributions (NIC) for apprentices under 25.
If your business has an annual payroll bill of UNDER £3 million, the government will pay 90% of the training and assessment costs for the lifetime of the apprenticeship, any age, any level (up to funding band maximum).
If your business has less than 50 employees and the apprentice is aged 16-18 years old, the government will contribute 100% of the apprenticeship training costs.
If your business has an annual payroll bill of OVER £3 million, 0.5% of your annual payroll amount must be paid as an apprenticeship levy to HMRC, minus a £15k allowance. This can then be recouped via the online apprenticeship service for you to spend on apprenticeships training and assessment.
For example, if your annual payroll is £5m, 0.5 of this is £25k, you receive a £15k allowance bring this down to a £10k levy that you must pay over a 12 month period. You can then use this £10k, plus a 10% top up from government – so £11k, to spend on apprenticeship training and assessment. You have 24 months to spend it.
For employers that use up their full levy pot, any apprenticeships over and above this will be funded 90% by government and 10% by the employer (the same rate as for non levy paying employers).
A grant of £1000 will be given to any employer who takes on a 16-18 apprentices, irrespective of business size or payroll amount.
The government will provide extra funding to the training provider if the apprentice lives within an eligible deprived area, requires maths and English training, or has additional learning needs, such as dyslexia, learning difficulties or disabilities.
The apprentice may need additional support, especially in their early career, to help them not only get to grips with their new role but to help them achieve the learning requirements of the apprentice. Ways your business could help include:
One way to support with all of this is to provide mentoring support to the apprentice. It can ensure that their learning and development needs are kept in check, and that they have the support they need to address any challenges their facing. Read our guide on Mentoring Apprentices in a Small Business.
If the apprenticeship is based on an apprenticeship framework, the assessment will be done throughout the apprenticeship and is likely to be handled by an assessor arranged by your training provider, who will manage the process and ensure your apprentice receives the appropriate certification at the end of the apprenticeship.
New apprenticeship standards must have an independent end-point assessment which you must also purchase independently. Your training provider should be able to advise on how this will work.
Apprenticeship Frameworks and Standards often provide progression paths for the apprenticeship roles to Level 4 and beyond. In fact, higher and degree apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular as a way of completing higher education.
If the apprenticeship has ended, you should now have a skilled and valuable member of the team that is adding real value to the business. Recognise their achievement in team communications, and identify their role and job title (if relevant) in the team.
90% of apprentices stay in employment, 71% with the same employer.
Businesses can recruit as many apprentices as they need for their business and still gain the apprenticeships funding, in fact, often once businesses get started and realise what a boost they are for their business, apprenticeships can become a core part of their recruitment strategy.