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Q&As

Here are a range of questions and answers regarding Apprenticeships.

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General

How are Apprenticeships different to Modern Apprenticeships?

They are one and the same thing - Modern Apprenticeships were re-branded in 2004 to ‘Apprenticeships’.

Is there an upper age limit for Apprenticeships?

No.

What does it involve?

An Apprenticeship includes the following components:

  • A knowledge based element.
  • A competence based element.
  • Transferable or Functional Skills.
  • A module on employee rights and responsibilities.
  • • A module on personal learning and thinking skills
What if I can’t find an Apprenticeship for my sector?

So far, there are more than 250 different types of Apprenticeships available offering over 1,400 job roles – and more are being developed. They have all been developed with employers and Sector Skills Councils to ensure they meet the needs of employers.

Apprenticeships are also available for a number of business support functions including business administration and finance. A full list of available Apprenticeships can be accessed here.

What do we do to find out more?

The National Apprenticeship Service has all the information you need to start an Apprenticeship.

The National Apprenticeship Service website is your one stop shop for all the information you need about how to get started with taking on an apprentice.

What is an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships refer to on-the-job training leading to nationally recognised qualifications, developed by industry.

The National Apprenticeship Service supports, funds and co-ordinates the delivery of Apprenticeships throughout England.

How long does it take?

The length of an Apprenticeship varies depending on prior skills levels of the apprentice, the qualification being obtained and industry sector. Generally, Apprenticeships take between one and four years to complete.

Is anything being done to help SMEs take on an apprentice?

Like any other business, SMEs can benefit from taking on apprentices.

The National Apprenticeship Service is piloting a number of programmes to explore how the government’s support can be enhanced, taking into account the unique cost pressures that SMEs face.

Currently the government is offering an Employer Incentive (AGE 16-24)

The AGE 16-24 is aimed at helping eligible employers to offer young people employment through the Apprenticeship programme, by providing wage grants to assist employer in recruiting a young apprentice.

Find out more about the incentive »

Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers

What are the sizes of the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers?

The Top 100 Employers are in four size categories;

Small (1-24 employees)
Medium (25-249)
Large (250-4,999)
Macro (5,000+)

There is a mix of employer sizes across the Top 100.

Will this happen every year?

The current plan is that the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers will be published for the foreseeable future.

Why is the Top 100 not ranked?

The awards and judging process aimed to identify the Top 100 Employers who excelled in the four categories and does not rank those employers in the Top 100 – they are all doing great things with Apprenticeships.

How were the Top 100 selected?

The Top 100 was selected through the NAS awards process in the employer categories. After a rigorous selection process the most outstanding Apprenticeship employers from all four Awards categories went forward to feature in the list consisting of all the very best employers. The four size categories were small, medium, large and macro employers.

The judging critieria included the following four areas:

Commitment - Demonstrating the organisation’s commitment to training the workforce and plans for future development and/or growth of their Apprenticeship programme

Business Benefits - Employers needed to describe the benefits that Apprenitceships have brought to their business

Benefits to the apprentice - Employers were required to show that apprentices are benefiting from the training the business provides and how the apprentices have added value. Clearly showing what success looks like and how it is measured.

Best practice and transfability - Employers needed to explain why they should be considered as an exemplar.

Business Benefits

My business is struggling to make ends meet as it is with the recession. How is taking on an apprentice going to help my businesses manage through it?

Even in difficult times like these, Apprenticeships are a vital way of improving the skills of staff and generating a committed and valuable workforce. When times are tough, competition for contracts is even tougher. That’s when a well-trained, extra pair of hands could make a real difference to your chances of success.

Apprentices can also help you ready your businesses for when the economy comes out of recession. By offering a flexible resource that can help your business grow, apprentices can also give you a competitive advantage to exploit new business growth opportunities.

Do I receive any monetary incentives to take on an apprentice?

Employers do not receive a direct monetary incentive to take on apprentices. However, the off-job training costs are subsidised in full, or in part, by the National Apprenticeship Service.

Why would I want to take on an apprentice?

Because it is good business. Skills shortages are still one of the biggest threats to UK business. Apprenticeships can help businesses across all industries by offering a route to harness fresh talent. If you have trained staff with the right skills for the job they can do a wider range of tasks and take on new responsibilities - this can help to reduce skill shortages, minimise staff turnover and workplace accidents, and increase productivity.

Taking on an apprentice is cost effective because your people can learn while they’re on the job and the government contributes to the costs of learning.

Yes, but what is the financial benefit to me?

There are clear financial benefits to employers and their investment in Apprenticeships is repaid many times over.

A recent study by the University of Warwick Institute of Employment Research found that the costs of Apprenticeship training are recouped relatively quickly, and that where the investment is nurtured, the returns are significant.

Another study by Sheffield University measured the long term financial benefit to investing in Apprenticeships. A Level 3 Advanced apprentice will generate an additional lifetime benefit to themselves and their employer of £105,000 compared to someone who does not gain an Apprenticeship. The Level 2 additional benefit is £73,000. This represents a gain of £16 for every £1 of taxpayers’ money.

Types of Apprenticeships

Which Apprenticeships are most in demand?

Some of the most popular Apprenticeships at present are: Engineering, Business Administration, Construction and Hospitality.

How are Apprenticeships frameworks developed?

An Apprenticeship is essentially a set of qualifications called a ‘framework’. These are developed by Sector Skills Councils. Sector Skills Councils are licensed by government to work with employers to develop National Occupational Standards and design Apprenticeship frameworks for the industries they represent.

What types of Apprenticeships are there?

There are more than 250 different types of Apprenticeships available offering over 1,400 job roles, ranging from accountancy to textiles, engineering to veterinary nursing, business administration to construction.

They generally fall into one of three categories:

  • Intermediate Level Apprenticeships
  • Advanced Level Apprenticeships
  • Higher Apprenticeships

Costs and Funding

Is there a cost for employers?

Like all employees, apprentices must still receive a wage. More information on the National Minimum Wage can be found on GOV.UK.

There is also the cost of the supervision, support and mentoring that you will need to put in place to support the apprentice. These associated costs are not insignificant - however, the National Apprenticeship Service will match employer’s commitment to hiring apprentices by covering in full, or in part, the training costs.

Training and Employment

What is a Framework?

There are a number of elements to each Apprenticeship and this is called the Framework. This means you will get a range of qualifications as you progress through your training and education. Each Apprenticeship framework has three main strands:

  • A competence based element
  • A technical element
  • A skills element

The three strands are sometimes accompanied by additional qualifications to give the most relevant skills and knowledge required for the job that you are employed in.

Do apprentices take exams?

Most assessment is carried out in the workplace but there may be a requirement to take some tests.

Do apprentices pay tax and national insurance?

As is the case of all employees aged over 16, apprentices must still pay tax and national insurance on their income.

What are my responsibilities as the employer?

You must give your apprentice an induction into their role and provide on-the-job training. As with all employees, you are also responsible for the wages of your apprentice.

What are transferable skills?

Many different industry sectors share the same skill sets. These core skills are transferable across sectors and are built into the Apprenticeship to maximise flexibility and choice for employers and apprentices. They include:

  • Communication (mandatory).
  • Application of numbers (mandatory).
  • ICT.
  • Working with others.
  • Improving own learning and performance.
  • Problem solving.
Do I have to give my apprentice holidays?

Like most other employees, apprentices must be given at least 20 days’ paid holiday per year as well as bank holidays.

Are apprentices eligible for maternity leave?

Yes. Like all employees, apprentices are entitled to statutory Maternity Leave of 52 weeks with statutory Maternity Pay for up to 39 weeks.

How often do apprentices attend college or training sessions?

This varies from programme to programme. Some of the training can be in the work place and other sessions could be in college or with a learning provider. Depending on the type of job being done, or the elements of training being undertaken, it could be one day a week or a block release.

Is there a limit to the number of apprentices that an employer can take on?

No they can take on as many as they need – and often in more than one framework. The employer will be responsible for giving the apprentice an induction into their role as they provide on-the-job training.

What’s the role of learning providers?

A learning provider is usually a local college or specialist training organisation responsible for an apprentice's off-the-job training. When you take on an apprentice they will appoint a mentor who will work with you to make sure that the training is well planned. Once the apprentice begins the mentor will follow their progress and deal with any issues that may arise.

I have an employee keen to do an apprenticeship. Can I still take them on as an apprentice?

Yes.

Apprenticeship vacancies - General

What is Apprenticeship Vacancies?

Apprenticeship Vacancies is an online service whereby employers and learning providers can advertise and manage vacancies, and potential apprentices can search, apply and then manage their applications for Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships opportunities anywhere in England.

The system is an important part of our commitment to make services simpler and less bureaucratic to access. It is free and available on the Apprenticeships website at: www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

Who is Apprenticeship vacancies for?

The system is free and available to anyone wanting to be an apprentice or for any employer or learning provider who want to advertise their placements.

Can learners search for Apprenticeships by sector?

Yes.

Will the vacancies posted have to be real jobs with training?

Yes – providers cannot post vacancies that are not linked to a real post.

I would like to upload a vacancy onto Apprenticeship vacancies and specify an age range. Can I do this?

No. We operate an all-age service through the online vacancy system and endorse vacancies and recruitment based upon an individual’s ability and merit. Rejecting an application from an otherwise suitable candidate on the basis of age is likely to amount to unlawful discrimination on the grounds of age. Specifying age would be lawful if there was a genuine occupational requirement for someone of a particular age, for example someone under 18 is not be permitted to work in a bar or betting shop and therefore specifying that applicants had to be over 18 in these circumstances could be justified.

Searching for providers

I'm trying to find a learning provider to work with

The Search for Learning Provider page has been simplified to make it easier for you to see information about what the provider is offering. You can search in two different ways. To search for providers offering a particular Apprenticeship you must specify one Occupation Type (Sector) for your business and if necessary, the Job Type that you interested in offering an Apprenticeship. This would restrict the results to providers offering training in that occupational area. If you select 'All' against Job Role you will see information on the whole sector.

In addition you must specify a location. This can either be a full postcode such as CV1 2WT, or part code such as CV1, or just a location such as Coventry. If a drop-down menu appears, select the relevant location.

Please note that the Learning Provider search may return an address that is not located in the area you have searched for. However, the Learning Providers listed will deliver within your specified search location. For details of all the Apprenticeship Frameworks and delivery locations please refer to the Provider Details page.

The second way to search if by provider name. If you know the name of a particular provider, you can enter all or part of their name.

Search results display the learning provider name, a link to their website and the sector success rate. In addition to the location you selected, you have the option to view your results for the wider region that location falls within. You will also see providers who offer training nationally.

You can request further help or advice about the providers in your area Employer Enquiry form.

I’ve searched and no Leaning Providers matching my criteria
You could make your search criteria a bit less specific and search again. Alternatively you can request further help or advice to find a Provider in your area through our Employer Enquiry form.
The learning provider details show 'NEW' next to their success rate. What does this mean?

If the provider has indicated 'NEW', it means that the provider has not delivered Apprenticeships in this sector before and so does not yet have a success rate % available. As soon as the provider has a success rate, this will be displayed.

You can request further help or advice about the providers in your area through our Employer Enquiry form.

The learning provider details show 0% success rate. Is this a bad Provider?

No, that is definitely not the case. There are two reasons why this might happen. If the provider has not been offering this framework for very long, they may not have any success figures available yet. This could also happen because there have been recent changes to how the Sectors and Frameworks set up on the system and this provider has not yet updated their figures to match the new structure.

You can request further help or advice about the providers in your area through our Employer Enquiry form.

National Minimum Wage (NMW)

What is the Apprentice National Minimum Wage rate?

The National Minimum Wage rate per hour depends on the workers age and whether they are an apprentice.

Full information on the National minimum wage rates can be found on GOV.UK

Will my apprentices be entitled to the new apprentice minimum rate for the entire length of their Apprenticeship?

Not necessarily. The apprentice NMW applies to all 16 to 18 year olds and to those aged 19 and over in the first year of their Apprenticeship.

If they reach the age of 19 and have completed the first year of their Apprenticeship you must pay them at least the full NMW rate for those aged 18 to 20.

If they are already 19 and have completed the first year of your Apprenticeship they must be paid at least the NMW rate for their age.

The Apprentices National Minimum Wage does not apply to Higher Apprentices.

What does this mean for me as an employer?

Employers must comply with National Minimum Wage legislation as set by HMRC. As an employer you must make sure all your Intermediate Level or Advanced Level apprentices are being paid at least the national minimum wage. This includes time working plus the time spend training both on and off the job. This includes time at college. Apprentices aged 19 or over who have already spent a year on their Apprenticeship must be paid at least the full National Minimum Wage (NMW) rate appropriate to their age.

The Apprentices National Minimum Wage does not apply to Higher Apprentices.

Agricultural workers have different minimum wage regulations.

I have an apprentice aged 19 who had been on an Apprenticeship for over a year. What NMW rate should I pay?

If they are 19 or over and have completed the first year of their Apprenticeship they must be paid at least the NMW rate for their age.

Why are non-employed apprentices excluded?

The NMW only applies to employees who are paid. Those on Government funded programmes who are unwaged are not entitled to the NMW or the apprentice minimum wage.

Why is on- and off-the-job training included in the definition of hours for the Apprenticeship NMW?

An Apprenticeship is a package of work and on and off the job training. It is right that apprentices are paid for all the time they are on the Apprenticeship. That includes training time.

Is evening class/study in the evening counted towards the hours for which the NMW is paid?

Yes if it is study as part of the Apprenticeship.

I pay my apprentices more than the NMW, should I cut their wages?

There is no reason for you to cut their pay. It is a minimum below which they should not be paid – it is not a standard rate, nor rate for all Apprenticeships.

I call my trainees apprentices, are they eligible for the Apprentice NMW?

Only if they are employed on a contract of Apprenticeship; or they are on a publicly funded Apprenticeship programme and aged 16-18 or 19 and over in the first year of their programme.

All others must be paid at least the NMW appropriate to their age.

Why has the previous weekly minimum (£95 per week) been replaced by an hourly minimum rate? (England only)

The NMW is based on hourly rates. The Government has accepted the Low Pay Commission’s recommendation of a minimum hourly rate. This will mean a simpler single system for employers.

Who does it apply to?

The NMW applies to all new and existing apprentices aged 16 to 18 and those aged 19 or over in the first year of their Apprenticeship. The NMW does not affect those apprentices aged 19 or over who have already completed a year of their Apprenticeship – they will continue to be entitled to be paid at least at the full NMW rate appropriate to their age.


Learners on the Access to Apprenticeships pathway are not employed so the NMW does not apply to them.

Can any benefits-in-kind, such as tips, accommodation, meals, or childcare vouchers, count towards the statutory minimum wage for apprentices?

In-kind benefits such as meals, tips and childcare vouchers will not count towards the apprentice NMW. We are looking at deductions for the provision of accommodation and will announce a decision in 2011.

The hourly rate is too low. Why? When will it be increased?

The rate is set to be consistent with current arrangements in parts of the UK. The Low Pay Commission has recommended a rate that is fair to apprentices and does not discourage employers from offering Apprenticeships. The Government has accepted the rate recommended. The rate is a minimum, employers can pay more – and many do so.

The NMW rates are reviewed each year by the Low Pay Commission.

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