Hire an apprentice

Welcome to our apprenticeship pages for employers, where you can find everything you need to know about hiring an apprentice.

What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships have existed in one form or another for centuries. There are now hundreds of apprenticeships available across a wide range of sectors. More and more employers are using these programmes to build their talent pipeline, upskill their workforce and enhance succession planning.

Apprenticeships combine practical experience in paid employment with a recognised apprenticeship programme which is normally delivered by an independent training provider or college. Apprenticeships balance on-the-job learning with off-the-job training and are a great way of developing skills which are relevant to your organisation and enable people to earn while they learn.

Apprenticeships are available for:

  • Existing employees who require upskilling in the workplace to support progression in their role
  • New entrants to the workplace looking for an apprenticeship opportunity; a job that combines an apprenticeship training programme as part of the terms of employment.

How long do apprenticeships last?

Apprenticeships must last for at least a year plus the time needed to complete the end-point assessment (usually around three months). They can last up to five years depending on the level the apprentice is studying. Usually the higher the level, the longer the apprenticeship. Your training organisation will work with you in identifying a length of stay that meets the needs of the apprentice.

How are apprenticeships delivered?

Each apprenticeship will be delivered differently dependent on the subject area and model of delivery agreed with yourself and the training provider. However, you should expect a blended model of delivery to include online learning, one-to-one sessions and structured training either online, via one-to-one coaching or workshops at a provider’s centre or at your own, subject to the numbers of learners you have enrolled.

What does the apprentice achieve?

Many intermediate, advanced and higher apprenticeships will give the apprentice the opportunity to obtain qualifications such as diplomas in areas relevant to their field of work as well as the apprenticeship standard itself. All apprenticeships require the apprentice to achieve, if they are not exempt, functional skills in English and maths. You can see exactly what the requirements are of the apprenticeship via the Institute of Apprenticeship and Technical Education website or the apprentice can speak directly to their training provider.

What does an apprenticeship consist of?

  • Knowledge – the theory behind the practical application of the occupation. Having knowledge of how to do something does not necessarily mean that the individual can do it, even if they understand the steps and what should happen
  • Skills – the practical application of knowledge needed to successfully undertake the duties that make up the occupation. They have to be learned through on and/or off-the-job training or experience
  • Behaviours – mindsets, attitudes or approaches required for competence, generally across the entire occupation
  • An accredited qualification – some, but not all apprenticeships require the apprentice to achieve an accredited qualification as part of their overall achievement of the apprenticeship. For example, a certificate, diploma or other certificated course
  • Functional skills – the apprentice must achieve functional skills in maths and English up to level 2. They may be exempt from this part of the apprenticeship programme if they can show certificates that match the exemption criteria. For example, GCSE Grade 4-9, A-C or equivalent
  • End-point assessment – the apprentice must achieve a final grade through an assessment of the skills, behaviours and knowledge learned during the apprenticeship.

Why hire an apprentice?

Apprentices can:

  • Bring new ideas, creativity and vibrancy to all kinds of employers, both large and small
  • Enhance your succession planning by progressing through the ranks to become the managers and directors of the future
  • Enable you to develop people in a way that addresses a specific skills gap. Therefore, investing in the future of your staff and your organisation
  • Boost productivity – Centre for Economics and Business Research study found that, on average, each apprentice brings a gain in productivity of more than £10,000 per year for their employer, with even higher figures for some sectors
  • Help you to compete in the modern marketplace – in an industry research, 77% of employers agreed that apprentices helped to make their organisations more competitive while more than 8 out of 10 customers prefer to buy from companies employing apprentices.

Developing existing staff

It’s also possible to offer apprenticeships to your existing staff as a way to help them upskill, progress into a new role (e.g. management) and boost their productivity as well as improve retention. Apprenticeships can be tailored to the needs of your organisation and balance learning on-the-job with off-the-job training.

How are apprenticeships funded?

As an employer you can fund apprenticeships by using the Apprenticeship Levy.

National Insurance (NI) contributions

If you employ apprentices under the age of 25, you may not need to pay Class 1 NI contributions on their earnings below £827 a week (£43,000 a year). Read more on government’s website.

How much do you pay a new apprentice?

The current minimum wage rate for an apprentice is £4.30 per hour. This rate applies if the apprentice is under 19, or if they are aged 19 or over and are in their first year. Apprentices must be paid the national minimum wage for their age if they are an apprentice aged 19 or over and have completed your first year.

The current National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage rates are:

  • 23 and over – £8.91
  • 21 to 22 – £8.36
  • 18 to 20 – £6.56
  • Under 18 – £4.62
  • Apprentice – £4.30.

Please note that these pay rates are minimums only. Most employers will often set their salaries at higher rates, depending on company policy, the sector and the role, to make their apprenticeship opportunities competitive.

It is important to set a realistic living wage that both attracts and retains the apprentice. As the employer you may want to, working with the training provider, add incremental wage increases aligned to completion of components of the apprenticeship programme that will support motivation of the apprentice through the placement.

Steps to hiring an apprentice

  • Choose an apprenticeships standard for an apprenticeship in your industry and at a suitable level. Our apprenticeship team can help you identify the appropriate apprenticeship aligned to your needs
  • Source your apprenticeship provider using government’s find a training provider tool for the apprenticeship standard you’ve chosen. Alternatively, ask our apprenticeship team to support you in identifying appropriate local providers for your apprenticeship role
  • Agree a service level agreement with the training provider and the cost of the provision and employer contribution, if required
  • Advertise your apprenticeship – your training organisation will do this for you through the find an apprenticeship service. We can also help by advertising on our website and connecting you to people looking for an apprenticeship
  • Select your apprentice using your normal selection process and provide them with a contract of employment. Additionally, you will need to make an apprenticeship agreement and commitment statement with them. The training provider will lead on this, but you must agree its content, individual support needed and how you are committed to the support and development of the apprentice.

Get in touch for help

If you are an employer and are considering offering an apprenticeship role with your organisation, our apprenticeship team can help with free advice and guidance.

Contact us if you would like to know more about:

  • The opportunities that apprenticeships can bring to your business
  • Setting up an apprenticeship role and recruiting to your vacancy
  • How staff can undertake training through apprenticeships
  • How to utilise your apprenticeship levy funding.

You can contact us via email apprenticeships@ealing.gov.uk or phone 020 8825 6234. Our line is open Mon – Fri between 9am – 5pm. If the line is busy, please leave your name and phone number and we will return your call.