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The Apprenticeship Journey

FOR SMALL BUSINESSES



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Who is the apprenticeship for?

Age

Status

Existing or New Employee?

Educational Background

Age


People of any age can do an apprenticeship.

From May 2017, the government will fund 90% of the training and assessment costs for people of all ages, and more if the apprentice is aged 16-18 in a small business.

Status


An apprentice is employed by the business and completes their apprenticeship training alongside their main job role.

Existing or new employee?


An existing employee of any age can start an apprenticeship - a great way to build the skills of an existing team.

Or a business can recruit a new employee as an apprentice - the training provider will often help with the recruitment too.

Educational background


Even if an individual has previously done a degree or another funded qualification, as long as they are gaining ‘substantive new skills’ the government will support it.

Choose an apprenticeship

What is there to choose from?

Types of Apprenticeships


What level are they at?

Traineeships

What is there to choose from?


Gone are the days when apprenticeships were only based on trades and crafts. There are apprenticeships for job roles in nearly 200 industries, from digital to horticulture, design to maritime.

Whatever your business there is likely to be an apprenticeship to fit. Businesses are also increasingly choosing to provide apprenticeships training across all job functions including HR, accountancy, digital marketing and management.

There are also now two types of apprenticeships, Frameworks and Standards.

Types of Apprenticeships: Frameworks


Frameworks are more plentiful and have been in operation for many years. Frameworks have been developed by Sector Skills Councils and tend to be structured around NVQs and BTECs.

Frameworks are gradually being replaced by Standards, and will disappear completely by 2020, however that’s no reason for an apprentice not to train on a framework if it’s a good fit for the business.

Types of Apprenticeships: Standards


Standards are new apprenticeships developed by groups of employers (Trailblazer Groups).They are built around the Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours (KSBs) required for that job.

Standards have been designed for new apprenticeships, and to replace existing (Framework based) apprenticeships.

So far there are 152 job roles available as Standards, but more are coming online all the time. By 2020 all apprenticeships will be based on Standards.

Standards have assessment at the end of the apprenticeship and are graded.

What level are they at?


Apprenticeships are designed to fit with a career path, so an apprentice can start at a level that’s appropriate for the stage of their career. This gives an indication of which level suits which career point:

Level 2 – Entry level
Level 3 – Supervisory / Junior manager
Levels 4 to 7 - Higher / Managerial / Senior Manager

Amongst the higher levels of apprenticeships (6&7), Degree Apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly popular option.

Traineeships


Prior to an entry level apprenticeship, your business could consider offering a Traineeship – these aren’t an apprenticeship, but an opportunity to offer work experience alongside a fully funded training programme (six weeks to a maximum of six months).

Choose a training provider

Call the business helpline and search on gov.uk


If you’re new to apprenticeships, discover which training providers might be right for your business by contacting the National Apprenticeship Business Support Team or by visiting Find apprenticeship training on Gov.uk.

Contact a Training Provider Directly

Apprenticeship Training Agencies (ATAs)

Questions to ask

Final Selection

Contact a Training Provider Directly


You can of course contact a training provider direct if you are already aware of which organisations train in your region or sector.

A training provider in apprenticeships might not necessarily be your local college or similar, there are also specialist training providers, and organisations that deliver nationally, that might be the best fit for your business.

Speak to a few training providers and ask some questions to get an idea of what they can offer your business.

Apprenticeship Training Agencies (ATAs)


An alternative to a training provider is to work with an Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA) which is an intermediary organisation that manages the apprenticeship process for your business.

Sometimes they even employ the apprentice for the duration of the apprenticeship providing the option for your business to offer employment to the apprentice at the end of the apprenticeship.

Great questions to ask a training provider


When selecting a training provider to work with, don’t just go with the first one you meet. Find out the organisations background and experience in your sector and what additional services they provide.

A good apprenticeship is dependent on the success of the employer – training provider relationship, so don’t be afraid to ask questions to get it right. Here are our suggestions to get you started. A good training provider will be happy to help.

Final Selection


Once you’ve selected a training provider you should create a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to help build a close working relationship. The SLA should set out the responsibilities and duties of each partner, including measures and deadlines that you’ll both follow. If you’re agreeing a financial contract, you’ll need a separate contract in addition to your SLA.

Recruit your apprentice

Upskill an existing staff member

Advertise a new vacancy

Upskill an existing staff member


Remember that an existing member of staff can do an apprenticeship, and they can be any age. Apprenticeships range from entry level to senior management, and they can be in a sector speciality, or in an area common to most businesses such as HR, Marketing, Management, or Accountancy. Apprenticeships really are the perfect all round training solution for businesses.

Prepare for the apprenticeship

The paperwork

Prepare the team and create a great support structure

Provide an induction

Health and Safety

The paperwork


If the apprentice is a new employee then the business will need to prepare like it would any other employee, e.g., ensuring there’s a place to work, the necessary equipment, and the required paperwork sent prior to joining. The only additional paperwork for an apprentice is an apprenticeship agreement. Your training provider will often assist with this.

Take a look at ACAS’s Hiring Staff templates which includes two welcome letter templates.

Prepare the team and create a great support structure


It’s a good idea to prepare the team so that they understand the apprenticeship, are happy to support, and are keen to share their skills and experience.

You could provide fantastic support for the apprentice and draw on the skills and experience of the wider team, by considering how to include these activities into the apprenticeship:

  • An employer induction – a detailed plan for their first week
  • On-the-job coaching and learning
  • Short term projects
  • Mentoring and line management support (see the mentoring course from Apprenticemakers)

Provide an induction


It’s a good idea to create work plan or schedule for the individual’s first week in their new role, this can not only introduce the business it can communicate to the whole business that this is a valued employee. Elements to include are a health and safety briefing, an overview of the business, a tour of the building (including where to get lunch), time with key colleagues, and a few achievable tasks for the first week which will also familiarise them with the business.

The induction schedule can also be a useful document to share with the new starter in a welcome pack to help them to know what to expect and to calm their nerves prior to their first day.

Health and safety


Like any new starter, you will need to provide a health and safety briefing at the beginning of your young employee’s first day, with information on what to do if they have an accident, who the first aider is, what to do if there is a fire and if they need to use any protective clothing or equipment. The employer has the primary responsibility for the health and safety of the apprentice and should be managing any significant risks. The training provider is required to take reasonable steps to ensure the employer is doing this, and often they can be a useful source of information on this area. See the Health and Safety Executive for more information.

Costs and funding

Pay rates for apprentices

Training costs and funding

Will your business pay the levy

Grants and extra provision

Pay rates for apprentices


Apprentices must be employed for at least 30 hours a week. The minimum hourly rate that must be paid is as follows:

16-18£3.50
19+ during the first year of their apprenticeship£3.50

All other apprentices must be paid at least the national minimum wage for their age. Many employers offer more than the minimum wage to attract the right candidate. There are no National Insurance Contributions (NIC) for apprentices under 25.

Training costs and funding


If your business has an annual payroll bill of UNDER £3 million, the government will pay 90% of the training and assessment costs for the lifetime of the apprenticeship, any age, any level (up to funding band maximum).

If your business has less than 50 employees and the apprentice is aged 16-18 years old, the government will contribute 100% of the apprenticeship training costs.

Will your business pay the levy?


If your business has an annual payroll bill of OVER £3 million, 0.5% of your annual payroll amount must be paid as an apprenticeship levy to HMRC, minus a £15k allowance. This can then be recouped via the online apprenticeship service for you to spend on apprenticeships training and assessment.

For example, if your annual payroll is £5m, 0.5 of this is £25k, you receive a £15k allowance bring this down to a £10k levy that you must pay over a 12 month period. You can then use this £10k, plus a 10% top up from government – so £11k, to spend on apprenticeship training and assessment. You have 24 months to spend it.

For employers that use up their full levy pot, any apprenticeships over and above this will be funded 90% by government and 10% by the employer (the same rate as for non levy paying employers).

More about the levy here

Grants and extra provision


A grant of £1000 will be given to any employer who takes on a 16-18 apprentices, irrespective of business size or payroll amount.

The government will provide extra funding to the training provider if the apprentice lives within an eligible deprived area, requires maths and English training, or has additional learning needs, such as dyslexia, learning difficulties or disabilities.

Once the apprenticeship is underway

Support your apprentice

Consider assessment

Share your experience and success

Support your apprentice


The apprentice may need additional support, especially in their early career, to help them not only get to grips with their new role but to help them achieve the learning requirements of the apprentice. Ways your business could help include:

  • Ensuring adequate time is provided for study and assignment requirements
  • Ensuring the apprentice gets access to the projects necessary to achieve their learning requirements
  • Providing On-the-job coaching and learning opportunities

One way to support with all of this is to provide mentoring support to the apprentice. It can ensure that their learning and development needs are kept in check, and that they have the support they need to address any challenges their facing. Read our guide on Mentoring Apprentices in a Small Business.

Consider assessment


If the apprenticeship is based on an apprenticeship framework, the assessment will be done throughout the apprenticeship and is likely to be handled by an assessor arranged by your training provider, who will manage the process and ensure your apprentice receives the appropriate certification at the end of the apprenticeship.

New apprenticeship standards must have an independent end-point assessment which you must also purchase independently. Your training provider should be able to advise on how this will work.

Share your experience and success


There are many opportunities for businesses to celebrate their success with apprenticeships. All regions host regional apprenticeship awards, and some training providers also hold their own events. These can be great PR opportunities and provide opportunities for businesses to enrich their credentials to attract new clients. The events can also be great networking opportunities, and a morale boost for the team. See the National Apprenticeship Awards

As well as awards, businesses can explore the potential for apprentices to get involved in national skills competitions, such as WorldSkills UK. These events are an opportunity for apprentices to enjoy public recognition of their progress as well as a platform to celebrate the support they’ve received from their employer.

When the apprenticeship ends

Continue the apprenticeship to the next level

Progress your apprentice as an employee

Recruit another apprentice

Continue the apprenticeship to the next level


Apprenticeship Frameworks and Standards often provide progression paths for the apprenticeship roles to Level 4 and beyond. In fact, higher and degree apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular as a way of completing higher education.

Progress your apprentice as an employee


If the apprenticeship has ended, you should now have a skilled and valuable member of the team that is adding real value to the business. Recognise their achievement in team communications, and identify their role and job title (if relevant) in the team.

90% of apprentices stay in employment, 71% with the same employer.

Recruit another apprentice


Businesses can recruit as many apprentices as they need for their business and still gain the apprenticeships funding, in fact, often once businesses get started and realise what a boost they are for their business, apprenticeships can become a core part of their recruitment strategy.