How To Employ An Apprentice

Now that staying in education is mandatory up to the age of 18, more school leavers who are eager to work instead of going to college are looking to kick-start their career by becoming an apprentice. Provisional government data for the full 2014/15 year, released in October 2015, reveals that there has been a 12% increase since the previous year with 492,700 new apprenticeship starts in England. 73% of all apprenticeships started were concentrated in the following three sectors:

  • Business, Administration and Law
  • Health, Public Services and Care
  • Retail and Commercial Enterprise

Find out how your business can benefit from hiring an apprentice!

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The Benefits Of Employing An Apprentice

Many employers are sceptical about the value an apprentice can bring to their business, thinking that their lack of experience could be a burden and that they will have to find an employee to constantly “babysit” the young apprentice fresh out of school. This just isn’t the case. Many young people seeking apprenticeships do so because they already have a passion or interest for the type of apprenticeship work they are looking for. During the interview process, you might be surprised by how knowledgeable, mature and keen to get their career going some of these apprentices are.

The apprenticeship scheme helps young people get their foot through the door, gaining real life work experience in jobs that they may otherwise be considered too inexperienced for. In return, employers are given a cost-effective way of hiring enthusiastic young people to work for them as they gain skills specific to the job role you need to fill. All training can be given at a training centre so you won’t have to dedicate anyone to educate your new apprentice in-house. Apprentices can add immediate value to your business, as they take on the simpler tasks and work their way up to the more complex tasks as they learn the ropes of your business first-hand and gain experience. Once your apprentice has completed their training and passed their assessments, they should be fully qualified to take on the role awaiting them at your business.

It can also be an extremely rewarding experience for you as an employer, as you pass along your skills and passion to someone who is eager to learn.

How To Employ An Apprentice

1) Find an apprenticeship that suits the job role you are looking to fill. You can browse through the apprenticeships frameworks library to see what apprenticeship qualifications are available. There are apprenticeship courses for everything from software development to animal care; you will be amazed.

2) Register your interest with the National Apprenticeship Service, to find out more details in regards to employing an apprentice.

3) Find a local apprenticeship training provider that can deliver training specific to the apprenticeship course you are interested in. For example, there may be colleges that specialise in tech-related apprenticeships, or beauty schools that provide apprenticeships in things like massage, nail art and hairdressing. An apprenticeship training provider can handle all of the apprentice’s training and assessments to help them gain their qualification. Alternatively, if you feel that you are equipped to provide the apprentice’s formal study in addition to being their employer, you can apply for funding to cover the costs of the training and qualification, which would usually be given straight to the training organisation.

  • Apprentices aged 16-18: All course costs covered up to the Advanced level qualifications (Level 3)
  • Apprentices aged 19-23: Half of their course costs
  • Apprentices aged 24+: You may only receive a contribution toward the costs

4) Apply for any grants that you may be eligible for. If your apprentice is between the ages of 16-24 and you have less than 50 employees, you may be eligible for £1,500 Apprenticeship Grant for Employers. You can only obtain this grant for up to 5 apprentices.

5) Advertise your apprenticeship role as you would usually when looking to hire. You can advertise the vacancy on your website, on job search websites, on social media, in the paper – or take a back seat and ask the apprenticeship training organisation you’ve signed up with to take full control in advertising.

6) Interview potential candidates and select the one most suitable. An apprenticeship agreement will need to be typed up and signed, as well as all other necessary paperwork required.

What Should You Know About Employing An Apprentice?

Apprentices work to earn an NVQ (National Vocational Qualification). There are various levels of NVQs to distinguish the difficulty of the course and therefore the professional competency of the apprentice:

  • Level 2 (Intermediate Apprenticeship) is equivalent to 5 GCSE passes
  • Level 3 (Advanced Apprenticeship) is equivalent to 2 A Level passes
  • Level 4+ (Higher Apprenticeship) is equivalent to degree level qualifications

The higher the level, the more time may be required to complete the apprenticeship, with the minimum being a year.

Apprentices will be required to attend their training centre or college on a regular basis (may be anywhere from once a week to once a month) for further training, to complete unit work under observation and be assessed. You must pay your apprentice for time spent training, even if they are away from work and training at the college. Apprentices must be paid at least the apprenticeship minimum wage (£3.30 per hour as of October 2015). If the apprentice is 19 or over, the apprenticeship minimum wage only applies for the first year of the apprenticeship, then they are entitled to the regular minimum wage for their age bracket.

Apprentices are still entitled to the same work conditions as other employees in similar roles, including: paid holidays, sick pay and any other support or benefits you offer. Apprentices don’t just have to be new employees, it may be the case that one of your existing employees feels that they could benefit from taking on an apprenticeship while working in their current job role.


National Apprenticeship Week 2016 takes place from 14th until 18th March and celebrates how far apprenticeships in England have come over the years, providing young people with great career opportunities and positively impacting businesses and the wider economy.

Don’t forget to make sure your business insurance is up to date to include information about your new apprentice. If this is your first employee, you will have to purchase Employers Liability Insurance cover as a legal requirement.

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