An Apprenticeship is an accredited, work-based training programme for those aged 16 and over.

As an employer you can take on anyone of any age as an apprentice – even an existing member of staff or a graduate – providing that the training being offered doesn’t duplicate what they already know.

Although there are apprentices of all ages and at many different stages in their career, there are financial incentives to recruit 16-18 year olds and 19-24 year olds who are either care leavers or who have an Education Heath Care Plan.

With apprenticeships available for over 1,500 roles at three different levels (intermediate, advanced and higher), it’s highly likely that there’s a relevant apprenticeship available, whatever your business sector.

Whether you are looking to employ someone new or train one of your existing employees, most apprenticeships can be tailored to fit specific job roles and functions, giving your staff the skills that are right for your business.

An apprentice works hard
Apprentices should work for at least 30 paid hours a week but must work more than 16. They will receive on the job training from you as well as off the job training from a government-approved training provider.

All apprenticeships last a minimum of 12 months but depending on the qualification they may take up to four years.

With an Apprenticeship, neither you nor your employee is ever on their own. Your training provider will help you both juggle the demands of work and study so that you get the most out of the programme.

There’s a new apprenticeship on the block

There are now two different types of Apprenticeship training you can choose from:

Apprenticeship standards – if you’ve not taken on an apprentice recently, you may not be aware of the new Apprenticeship standards.

Each ‘standard’ covers a specific job role and sets out in detail the core skills, knowledge and behaviours required to excel in that profession.

They have been developed by employer-led groups (known as trailblazers), which help guarantee that the training is actually what a specific industry needs.

With the introduction of standards, end-point assessment is replacing the existing model of continuous assessment. This means that both the employer and training provider will need to sign off an apprentice as ready to be assessed. The assessment and the assessor must be independent of the training provided by the provider and employer.

Graded end-point assessment is a good thing because:

  • Training providers can focus on coaching and training (rather than continuously assessing).
  • Apprentices are assessed on their whole body of knowledge, skills and behaviours.
  • Employers and training providers have more flexibility in how they deliver on the job and off-site training.

Apprenticeship frameworks – Work-related vocational and professional qualifications like NVQs are the main means of assessment for apprenticeship frameworks. If there isn’t an apprenticeship standard to fill your skills gap yet, then a framework apprenticeship may well be the answer.

What are my obligations to an apprentice as an employer?

You contract, induct and employ your apprentice, paying at least the minimum apprenticeship wage. For those under 19 or in the first year of their apprenticeship, this is £3.50 per hour (from April 2017). You also pay them for their time spent training or studying, whether at work or at college.

You must also offer apprentices the same conditions as other employees working at similar grades or in similar roles. This includes paid holidays, sick pay, any benefits you offer such as childcare voucher schemes, and any support you offer such as coaching or mentoring.

A contract of employment should be given to the Apprentice after six weeks.

But don’t think of these as obligations. The more you support an apprentice in their role, the more loyal and productive they are likely to be.

Apprenticeships are not just for the traditional trades

Many people think apprenticeships are about learning a trade – hairdressing or construction for example – but actually they are a way of training and developing people in almost any type of business.

Yes, there are sector-specific apprenticeships in retail, healthcare and woodworking but there are also apprenticeships that can help all employers improve business skills such as business admin, IT, digital marketing or customer service.

City College Brighton and Hove has been providing Apprenticeship training for over 10 years. Located in the heart of Brighton, it is ideally placed to deliver Apprenticeship training to the hundreds of local businesses in the surrounding area.

The College is also in the final stages of building a new state-of-the-art Construction and Trades Centre on Wilson Avenue opening in spring 2017, its construction and trades training facilities will be the best in the South East. Students studying the different trades will be able to work together and follow each other through the construction process, mirroring real-life site conditions.