Employers Area

The Basics

What are Apprenticeships?

They are work-based training programmes designed around the needs of employers, which lead to nationally recognised qualifications. You can use Apprenticeships to train both new and existing employees. Funding is available to train apprentices.

Apprenticeships are designed by the Sector Skills Councils, while the National Apprenticeship Service helps to fund the training. Business representatives from the relevant industry sector work with the Sector Skills Councils to develop the course content. Because they genuinely understand your business, the training will be relevant for your industry.

Facts in numbers

  • 80% of those employers who employ apprentices agree they make their workplace more productive.
  • 81% of consumers favour using a company which takes on apprentices.
  • The National Minimum Wage for apprentices is £3.40 per hour. Many employers prefer to pay more, however, and research shows that the average salary is approx £170 per week.
  • Employers who take on a 16-18-year-old apprentice only pay their salary. The Government will fund their training.
  • There are over 85,000 employers offering Apprenticeships in more than 130,000 locations; there are almost 200 frameworks suitable for hundreds of job roles.
  • 88% of employers who employ apprentices believe that Apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce.
  • 83% of employers who employ apprentices rely on their Apprenticeships programme to provide the skilled workers that they need for the future.
  • One in five employers are hiring more apprentices to help them through the tough economic climate.

Levels

There are three levels of Apprenticeship available:

1 – Intermediate Level Apprenticeships

  • Apprentices work towards work-based learning qualifications such as an NVQ Level 2, Key Skills and, in most cases, a relevant knowledge-based qualification such as a BTEC. These provide the skills you need for your chosen career and allow entry to an Advanced Apprenticeship.

2 – Advanced Level Apprenticeships 

  • Advanced apprentices work towards work-based learning qualifications such as an NVQ Level 3, Key Skills and, in most cases, a relevant knowledge-based certificate such as a BTEC. To start this programme, the applicant should ideally have five GCSEs (grade C or above) or have completed an Apprenticeship.

3 – Higher Apprenticeships

  • Higher apprentices work towards work-based learning qualifications such as an NVQ Level 4 and, in some cases, a knowledge-based qualification such as a Foundation degree.

In some cases, apprentices can also progress to higher education, including university degrees.

Types of Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are available in a wide range of industry sectors with employers from large national companies such as Sainsbury’s, BMW and Orange to smaller local companies.

There are nearly 200 types of Apprenticeships suitable for hundreds of job roles within a variety of industry sectors ranging from accountancy and engineering to veterinary nursing and floristry.

Training

As Apprenticeships are work-based training programmes, most of the training is ‘on the job’ – at your premises. The rest can be provided by a local college or by a specialist learning provider, or you could deliver everything yourself.

As the employer, you must give your apprentices an induction into their role and provide on-the-job training. You are also responsible for paying your apprentices’ wages.

As a learning provider, we can provide an employer representative who will be able to support and guide you. We can work with you to:

  • help you decide which Apprenticeship is right for you;
  • explain the way that Apprenticeships might work for you and if funding is available;
  • agree on a training plan with your apprentice;
  • recruit an apprentice or support your existing staff into Apprenticeships;
  • manage the training and evaluation; and
  • ensure that national quality standards are met and deliver integrated, coherent training.

Funding

Apprenticeship funding is available from the National Apprenticeship Service. The size of the contribution varies depending on your sector and the age of the candidate. If the apprentice is aged 16–18 years old, you will receive 100 percent of the cost of the training. Please note that since the introduction of the Advanced Learner Loan, funding for Level 3 and above qualifications for those aged 19 and over is no longer available. For more information on loans, please click here.

This is paid directly to the organisation that provides and supports the Apprenticeship; in most cases, this will be a learning provider. Large employers with a direct contract with the National Apprenticeship Service may receive the funding themselves.

National Minimum Wage

A National Minimum Wage for apprentices was introduced on 1 October 2010. The wage applies to all apprentices aged under 19, and apprentices aged 19 or over in the first year of their Apprenticeship.

The apprentice minimum wage is £3.40 per hour and applies to time working, plus time spent training that is part of the Apprenticeship. Employers are free to pay above the new wage and many do so, but employers must ensure that they are paying their apprentices at least the minimum wage.

If an apprentice is on a higher wage, the employer must continue to pay that for the remainder of the training or until the apprentice becomes eligible for the full national minimum wage.

The Business Benefits

Apprenticeships can help businesses across all sectors by offering a route to harness fresh new talent.

UK businesses consider skills shortages and recruitment difficulties a bigger threat to performance than soaring oil prices and declining consumer spending, and more than a quarter of these rates this form of vocational training higher than any other qualification.

Apprenticeships ensure that your workforce has the practical skills and qualifications your organisation needs now and in the future. The mixture of on and off job learning ensures they learn the skills that work best for your business.

Over 130,000 workplace offer apprentice places because they understand the benefits that apprentices bring to their business – increased productivity, improved competitiveness and a committed and competent workforce.

Improve your bottom line

Apprenticeships deliver real returns to your bottom line, with Apprenticeships helping them to improve productivity and to be more competitive. Training apprentices can also be more cost-effective than hiring skilled staff, leading to lower overall training and recruitment costs.

Fill your skill gaps

Apprenticeships deliver skills designed around your business needs providing the skilled workers you need for the future. They also help you develop the specialist skills you need to keep pace with the latest technology and working practices in your sector.

Motivate your workforce

Apprentices tend to be eager, motivated, flexible and loyal to the company that invested in them. Remember, an apprentice is with you because they want to be – they have made an active choice to learn on the job and a commitment to a specific career.

What do employers say?

Business leaders from a range of industries and backgrounds across England give their support for Apprenticeships and voice their ambition to help grow the number of places available.

Benefits in numbers

Earlier research, conducted in February 2008 by Populus on behalf of the LSC to launch the first National Apprenticeship Week revealed:

  • 77% of employers believe Apprenticeships make them more competitive;
  • 76% say that Apprenticeships provide higher overall productivity;
  • 80% feel that Apprenticeships reduce staff turnover;
  • 83% of employers rely on their Apprenticeships programme to provide the skilled workers that they need for the future;
  • Two-thirds of respondents believe that their Apprenticeship programme helps them fill vacancies more quickly, whilst
  • 88% believe that Apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce;
  • 59% report that training apprentices are more cost-effective than hiring skilled staff, with 59% believing that Apprenticeships lead to lower overall training costs and 53% feeling that they reduce recruitment costs;
  • In terms of the return on investment linked to Apprenticeships, 41% say that their apprentices make a valuable contribution to the business during their training period, while a further third (33%) report that apprentices add value within their first few weeks (or even from Day One);
  • 57% report a high proportion of their apprentices going on to management positions within the company;
  • Over three-quarters of respondents expect apprenticeships to play a bigger part in their recruitment policy in the future.

Further Research

A study carried out by the University of Warwick Institute for Employment Research (IER) demonstrated that Apprenticeships are an investment by employers and where the investment is nurtured, the returns to the employer are significant.

Based on detailed employer case studies in seven sectors the study was commissioned and scrutinised by the business leaders who form the Apprenticeships Ambassador Network (AAN).

The study showed that the costs of training are quickly recouped upon completion of the Apprenticeships. Other benefits include; retention within the company, understanding of company values, and progression to become managers and supervisors.

Public Sector Skills Challenge

It is not just the Private Sector who can benefit from taking on apprentices. Many public sector organisations could be taking advantage Apprenticeships, as a way of unlocking talent within their local communities and ensuring that they have a workforce equipped with the skills it needs for today and tomorrow.