Are you looking to broaden and develop your organisation’s skills base? Apprenticeships are a great place to start.
Apprenticeships can be used to give an accessible entry point for those just starting out in their careers or returning after a break. They can also be used to provide new opportunities for learning and development for your existing staff.
There are, however, certain rules that employers must abide by when taking on apprentices. Our simple guide will answer any questions you have about these regulations.
Please note this article refers to apprenticeship rules in England - other UK countries may have different rules and regulations.
What is an apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship is essentially a full-time paid position that’s accompanied by formal training and assessment. In offering apprenticeships, employers provide an opportunity for people to get real work experience, valuable training and earn a wage at the same time.
The learning is centred around the apprentices’ specific role and takes place both on and off-the-job. They can usually last between one and six years depending on the level of the apprenticeship.
How does apprenticeship training work?
As an employer, you’ll need to ensure that your apprentice spends at least 20% of their time completing off-the-job training. You may also need to provide some extra training in English and Maths if your apprentice doesn't have at least a GCSE grade C (or equivalent) in those subjects.
It’s up to you and your training provider to decide how the training is delivered. This could be as training days, workshops or even as an online course - the most important thing is that it suits the needs of both your business and your apprentice.
The off-the-job training you provide must be relevant to the apprenticeship’s standard (the outline of skills, knowledge and behaviours that are required to carry out the job role).
This doesn’t mean that it can’t include practical training, it just needs to be relevant to the apprentice’s job. You should consult with your training provider to figure out what’s best for your organisation.
When it comes to on-the-job training, it should ensure your apprentice develops the specific skills required for their role within their workplace. It’s also good practice to provide a mentor within the workplace to support them throughout their training.
How are apprentices assessed?
Recent apprenticeship reforms have changed the way in which apprenticeships are assessed.
Previously, apprentices would have been continually assessed throughout the programme; now, apprentices only complete an end-point assessment (EPA) in order to complete their qualification.
The EPA will need to be delivered by an independent end-point assessment organisation and will evaluate the knowledge, skills and behaviours your apprentice has learned and ensure that they’re prepared to excel in their role.
Each apprenticeship has different requirements for the EPA which will be outlined in the apprenticeship standard. They can take many forms including exams, portfolios of work and assignments.
Who can be an apprentice?
There are a few requirements your candidates will need to meet before they can become apprentices.
Firstly, the must be over the age of 16. However, there’s no upper age limit - the idea that apprentices must be aged between 16 and 18 is a complete misunderstanding! The government does provide more funding for this age range, but it doesn’t mean you’re limited to hiring apprentices of this age group.
Secondly, for the duration of their apprenticeship, they must spend at least 50% of their working hours in England.
Thirdly, they must not already be in full-time education.
Something else to bear in mind is that you aren’t limited to taking on new starts. You can also use apprenticeships to provide new opportunities for development for your existing staff.
What are the different levels of apprenticeships?
There are several different levels of apprenticeship available:
- Intermediate - Level 2, equivalent to 5 GCSE passes
- Advanced - Level 3, equivalent to 2 A Level passes
- Higher - Level 4, 5, 6 & 7, equivalent to a Foundation degree or above
- Degree - Level 6 & 7, equivalent to a bachelor’s or master’s degree
The different levels allow you a range of options to create apprenticeships across all areas and levels of your business. This means you’re not restricted to using apprenticeships to employ junior members of staff - another common myth about the apprenticeship system!
Who can provide apprenticeship training?
When deciding on your training provider, you’ll need to select one from the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP) and agree to a total price for the cost of the training and assessment.
You’ll also need to select a provider for the EPA from the Register of End-Point Assessment Organisation and agree on a price for this too.
It’s really important that you pick a training provider that can work with you to meet the specific needs of your organisation - they’ll play a vital role in the success of your apprenticeship so it’s essential to get it right.
How are apprenticeships funded?
Apprenticeships in England are funded differently depending on the size of your organisation.
If you’re a large employer with an annual wage bill of over £3 million, you’ll pay the apprenticeship levy, and this will fund your training costs.
If you don’t pay the levy, the government will fund 90% of your training costs on the condition that you cover the other 10%. However, plans have been announced to increase the proportion of government funding to 95% at some point in 2019.
Remember, the levy and government funds can only be used to pay for your apprentices’ training and assessment. You’ll be responsible for all other associated costs such as their wages and travel expenses.
Are there any other apprentice employer requirements?
Government rules regarding apprenticeships state that employers need to provide:
- An apprenticeship for at least a year
- A genuine job for the apprentice to work in for the duration of their apprenticeship
- An apprenticeship agreement with their apprentice for its full duration
- A commitment statement signed by all parties - the employer, the apprentice and the training provider
- A written contract for services in place with the training provider
Once you have all of this in place, you’re good to go and can start reaping the benefits of hiring an apprentice.
Looking to hire an apprentice in HR, finance or management?
Our levy-funded online apprenticeship programmes let your staff shape their learning around their everyday tasks with minimum disruption to your workplace.
Contact us today to find out more or arrange a free consultation.