What are Apprenticeships?
They are work-based training programmes designed around the needs of employers, which lead to national 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 £2.50 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.
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 knowledgebased 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 knowledgebased 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 Sainsburys, 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.
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.
A learning provider will provide an employer representative who will be able to support and guide you. They will 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 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.
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 per cent of the cost of the training; if they are 19-24 years old, you will receive up to 50 per cent; if they are 25 years old or over you may only get a contribution depending on the sector and area in which you operate.
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 £2.50 per hour and applies to time working, plus time spent training that is part of the Apprenticeship. Employers are be 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.