Apprenticeships are qualifications for anyone aged 16 or older who’s employed and isn’t in full-time education. This includes current staff members as well as new recruits. Apprenticeships cover all industry sectors and thousands of job roles. They are designed by employers to meet the country’s need for people to gain the knowledge, skills and behaviours which build successful careers and help their organisations to flourish.
Apprenticeships are available at intermediate, advanced, higher, degree and postgraduate levels. They last between one and six years depending on the role and level of the qualification. Employees on apprenticeships must spend 20% of their contracted working hours in off-the-job learning, training or studying. This could be one day a week, a varying amount of time each day or longer blocks of time. Training is delivered by a training provider on your premises, off-site, online, through distance learning or a combination of these.
Funding for apprenticeships is provided by the government through a levy on employers whose annual payroll exceeds £3 million. All employers can use apprenticeship funding, whether they pay into the levy or not. Employers not paying the levy may need to contribute a proportion of the costs; this is currently 5%. Each apprenticeship has a maximum level of government funding. Funds can only be used to pay for training directly related to the apprenticeship; they can’t be used to pay wages or non-apprenticeship costs.
Benefits of apprenticeships to employers
• Enhancement of skills and proficiency: apprenticeships focus on the competencies and qualities that increase people’s value and contribution to the business and develop skills at all levels to meet the demands of a competitive, flourishing economy.
• Development of the whole workforce: participation provides career opportunities across the organisation, from new hires to experienced employees moving into new roles.
• Increasing productivity and retention: by offering apprenticeships, organisations can increase staff effectiveness, raise efficiency levels and make productive people more likely to stay.
Additional information and resources about apprenticeships in England
• A short introduction to apprenticeships
• In-depth information about apprenticeships
• Making enquiries about apprenticeships
There are approximately 150 Level 2 and Level 3 apprenticeships and over 45 higher level apprenticeships available in Northern Ireland. Details are given on the website.
The apprenticeship system in Scotland is distinct from the rest of the UK. It is designed and managed by Skills Development Scotland and is based on Scottish Vocational Qualifications. There are three types of apprenticeship – foundation, modern and graduate apprenticeships:
• Foundation apprenticeships are for students in secondary education and are discussed above in the section on T Levels.
• Modern apprenticeships are primarily aimed at young people aged 16–24, but are available for older workers too. There are around 100 modern apprenticeships covering job roles from construction to digital media.
• Graduate apprenticeships are for everyone who’s aged 16 or above, is employed full-time and wants to gain an honour’s or master’s degree while they work. More information is available at Apprenticeships.Scot.
As part of the COVID response, the Scottish Government also introduced Pathway Apprenticeships, specifically aimed at young people leaving school. Referrals are currently closed but may open again.
Apprenticeship levy payers and SMEs in Scotland can also access the Flexible Workforce Development Fund, which can be used for shorter reskilling opportunities.
Apprenticeships in Wales are available at four levels: foundation, apprenticeship, higher apprenticeship and degree apprenticeship. They all follow an approved Welsh Apprenticeship Framework – there are 23 frameworks. They are for people aged 16 or over who are in full-time employment.
Incentives for employing apprentices also exist in all three devolved nations.
Scotland has the Young Person’s Guarantee, which connects 16-24-year-olds to the opportunity of a job, placement, training or volunteering. It includes financial support to employ and train young people.
Wales has also recently announced the development of a Young Person’s Guarantee.