Apprenticeships are a saving grace to many who struggle to find what they want to do at school or who don’t want to go to college or university.
For many, earning while learning is the name of the game, in fact in 2018/19 there were 393,400 apprenticeship starts in England. The total number of active apprenticeships was 742,400.
But they’re not only great for the individuals who take them, but for the businesses who take on an apprentice. It may feel like a big commitment but it’s a decision very few businesses regret. Afterall there are few better ways to develop home grown talent.
If you’re juggling with the idea of taking on an apprentice this article is for you. We’ll cover everything you need to know and hopefully help you make up your mind.
So, in this article we’ll cover the following:
1. What is an apprentice?
2. Apprenticeship Law
3. Apprentice Funding
4. Apprenticeship Levels
5. Apprenticeship Frameworks
6. Finding an apprentice
7. Do you need insurance?
8. How long do apprentices last?
What is an apprentice?
So, let’s start with the basics.
An apprentice is a full-time employee, employed on an apprenticeship agreement. This is a contract of service so the apprentice can undertake work for the employer.
All parties need this agreement to be in prescribed form following the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children & Learning Act 2009.
Apprenticeships can happen in two ways. Firstly, they can be directly employed under an apprenticeship agreement. Secondly, an apprentice could come via an apprenticeship training agency (ATA).
If the apprentice comes from an ATA, the employer will need to pay a fee. Employers can use apprenticeship schemes to train both new and existing employees and funding is available from the government to train apprentices.
To be eligible for an apprenticeship there’s some criteria the individual needs to meet.
- Apprentices must be aged 16 or over by the end of the next summer holidays.
- The apprentice will need to be living in England if that’s where the apprenticeship is based. The same for Wales & Scotland.
- Only people who are out of full-time education can start one.
If all the above is met it’s completely up to you to review all applications and decide on who to take on. Bear in mind an apprentice can be completely new to your business or they can be a current employee.
If you need any more information or have any questions you can contact The National Apprenticeship Service.
Telephone: 0800 015 0400.
Still sounds like a good idea? Well there’s a few more things you need to ensure you can do before hiring an apprentice.
There may be some slight differences in apprenticeship programme requirements between organisations. For the most part though you will need to make sure you can.
- Pay them the minimum wage. The National Minimum Wage for apprentices is £4.15 per hour. However, many employers pay more. It must be paid for all the time the apprentice spends working or training (that is part of the apprenticeship).
- Offer the apprentice at least 30 hours per week (including off-the-job training time)
- Off-the-job training should be at least 20% of their working hours
- Allow for normal holidays and rest breaks.
- Commit to the time needed to develop the skills required. This can take anything between one and five years (one year is the minimum)
The government also provides funding for employers who take on apprentices. The amount of funding you are eligible for varies depending on if you pay the apprenticeship levy.
The apprenticeship requires employers with pay bills of more than £3million to pay 0.5% of their annual pay bill to the levy fund. Even if they do NOT employ apprentices.
Non-levy paying companies must pay 5% of the cost of training and assessing each apprentice.
You’ll need to agree a payment schedule with a training organisation and pay them directly.
If your company has less than 50 employees, you can expect to have all training and assessment costs paid for. The levy will only be paid on annual pay bills more than £3 million, and so less than 2% of UK employers will actually pay it.
Normally you will get a £1000 boost at the start of the apprenticeship if:
- you employ an apprentice between the age of 16-18.
- or between the age of 19-24 if they’ve been in care or have a local authority Educational Health and Care plan.
You can find out more information about apprenticeship costs and grants here.
The impact of coronavirus has hit everyone, and apprenticeships are no different. So, to try and combat this, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a “brand new bonus” for employers to hire apprentices.
From August 2020 to January 2021, any firm that hires a new young apprentice aged 16 to 24 will receive £2,000. Those that hire new apprentices aged 25 and over will be paid £1,500.
There are four levels of apprenticeship available:
- Intermediate Level 2 Apprenticeships (equivalent to five good GCSE passes)
- Advanced Level 3 Apprenticeships (equivalent to two A level passes)
- Higher Apprenticeships 4, 5 and 6 and 7 (foundation degree level and above).
Choosing the right framework will be important for all parties involved in the apprenticeship. Some frameworks are longer than others, and each carries its own funding band.
You’ll need to do some extra research here but it’s pretty simple. You can see all the frameworks applicable in England on Find Apprenticeship Training. You can play around with the different options to find the right fit for you.
You’ll find a summary of each framework and a bunch of helpful documents outlining the framework, your role and assessment plans.
Finding an Apprentice
As we mentioned earlier you can use an ATA (Apprentice Training Agency) who should be able to match you with an apprentice.
You can also use traditional recruitment methods to advertise your vacancy once it has been approved.
Apprenticeship vacancies are found, in England, on the EFSA website here. So, you can look into getting your listing on there.
Do I need to insure my apprentice?
As apprentices are classed as employees you will need to have employer’s liability insurance for them.
How long does an apprenticeship last?
According to Gov.uk, apprenticeships in England must last for at least a year. Although in some cases they can go on for up to five years though, depending on the framework you’ve chosen.