Coventry City of Culture 2021

Employers Business Network

A practical guide to employing an apprentice.

Apprenticeships in England have changed. With government reforms the old apprenticeship frameworks and specifications are being phased out with new apprenticeship standards, often called ‘Trailblazer Apprenticeships’, replacing them in many occupational areas.

The new apprenticeship standards list the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed for the apprentice to be competent in their role. These attributes have to be assessed at the end of the apprenticeship and the result graded by an independent assessment organisation.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a real job with training, enabling learners to earn while they learn and to achieve recognition against industry standards on completing the apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are available to businesses of all sizes and sectors and can last from 12 months to four years, depending on the type or level of the programme.

Apprentices can be either new or current employees or you can employ them to perform a specific job role.  Apprenticeships not only bring professionally trained and qualified people into your company but can also be a cost-effective way of up-skilling existing staff.

What apprenticeships are available?

Various levels of apprenticeships are available depending on the individual’s current skills and qualifications:

  • Intermediate level apprenticeship – equivalent to 5 GCSEs at grades A*–C
  • Advanced level apprenticeship – equivalent to 2 A Levels
  • Higher level apprenticeship – Level 4 is equivalent to a higher national diploma; Level 5 a foundation degree; Level 7 a master’s degree.

What are the benefits of taking on an apprentice?

There are many benefits of taking on an apprentice, here are just a few.

  • Building skills – 82% of employers take on apprentices to build the skills capacity in their businesses.
  • Increased employee satisfaction – 88% of apprentice employers believe that the programme will lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce, resulting in greater loyalty and quality.
  • Lower recruitment costs – 75% of apprentice employers say the programme has helped cut recruitment costs. 80% say that apprenticeships will play a bigger part in their future recruitment policy.
  • Attractive to customers – 81% of consumers favour companies that employ apprentices.
  • Reduced staff turnover – 80% of employers feel that apprenticeships reduce staff turnover.
  • Greater productivity – 81% of apprentice employers say that apprentices make their businesses more productive.

What is the employers role?

The organisation the apprentice works for is the employer, and it’s their responsibility to:

  • Identify development and recommend suitable apprenticeships for the organisation
  • Employ the apprentice for the duration of the apprenticeship in a role that enables them to meet the requirements of the apprenticeship standard or framework
  • Support the apprentice with coaching and mentoring, line manager support and development opportunities
  • Enable 20% of the apprentice’s learning to be off-the-job training. This can be done at a college or training organisation, on your premises or online, or using a combination of these options.

What are the Terms and Conditions for hiring an apprentice?

To employ an apprentice, you need to check and meet the following terms and conditions. Your apprentice should:

  • Be 16 years old or older by the end of the summer holidays
  • Not be in full-time education
  • Work in a role that is relevant to their apprenticeship
  • Work enough paid hours each week to undertake sufficient training to achieve their apprenticeship

Apprentices can be new employees or current employees already working for you. We base the minimum duration of each apprenticeship on an apprentice working 30 paid hours a week or more. This also includes any ‘off-the-job’ training they do.

How are Apprenticeships assessed?

Assessments must be carried out by a government approved end-point assessment organisation (EPAO). Assessment must be independent, ensuring that no party (i.e. employer, manager or training provider) who was involved in the training of the apprentice can make the decision on competence and passing the end-point assessment.

The end-point assessment of all apprenticeships must be externally quality assured to ensure that they are valid, consistent and reliable across end-point assessment organisations (EPAOs).

When your apprentice successfully completes their apprenticeship, they will be awarded a certificate. This is requested by the EPAO from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

What will I have to sign?

There’s a number of agreements to sign in order to take on an apprentice, including an Apprenticeship agreement, a Commitment statement and a Contract of employment.

How will I fund my apprentice?

  • If you pay the apprenticeship levy

Employers have to pay the apprenticeship levy if their annual pay bill is more than £3 million. If you are a levy-paying employer you need to register for the apprenticeship service so you can manage your apprenticeship funds online. You will be able to pay for training and assessment from your account.

The government will apply a 10% top-up to the funds you have to spend in your account.

If you don’t have enough funds in your account to pay for apprenticeship training, you must pay 5% of any outstanding balance. The government will pay the remaining 95%, up to the funding band maximum allocated to the apprenticeship you have chosen.

If you exceed the funding band maximum, you will need to pay all the additional costs.

  • If you do not pay the apprenticeship levy

If you do not pay the levy you can fund your apprenticeship training and assessment in one of two different ways. Either using the apprenticeship service or through a contract for funding held by a training provider.

We will ask you to make a 5% contribution to the cost of training and the government will pay the remaining 95%, up to the maximum amount of funding allocated to the apprenticeship you have chosen.

If you exceed the funding band maximum, you will need to pay all the additional costs.

You will pay your 5% contribution to your training provider over the lifetime of the apprenticeship training.

For further information on our apprenticeships get in touch with Sharon Barker, our Apprenticeship Recruitment Coordinator.

To find out more about upskilling your team, take a look at our professional short courses or our part time and adult courses. To discover the benefits of bringing apprentices onboard take a look at our apprenticeships page.

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