What are apprenticeships?

Apprenticeship programmes are a great way for employers to develop the skills of their existing workforce and recruit new staff. Essentially, they are structured training programmes for anyone over the age of 16, delivered to meet a recognised national standard.  Apprenticeship standards have been designed by senior sector employers to ensure they meet the needs of a specific role –  Prison Officer, Healthcare Worker or Customer Service Practitioner.

Apprentices are employed by an organisation and at the same time, undertake a training programme which must last a minimum of 12 months.  Training can be provided by either the employer or a training provider, however, 20% of the training provided must be off-the-job training.  The off-the-job training can be delivered either at the employer’s workplace or off-site e.g. in a classroom or from home via distance learning, as part of a blended learning approach.

Apprenticeship programmes have been proven to help organisations to build a more qualified and better-trained workforce with the right knowledge, skills and behaviours.


There are benefits for both the employer and apprentice.

For an employer, apprenticeship programmes will:

• Create a skilled and competent workforce by providing structured training for staff that directly relates to a nationally agreed standard recognised by the industry.  This may be delivered directly by the employer or by a training provider working with the employer.
• Support the recruitment of staff to fill skills gaps by training people to have the exact skills, knowledge and behaviours for the organisation.
• Provide a cost-effective way to train new and existing staff.

As an apprentice you can:

• Be employed and get qualified at the same time through a structured learning programme that relates directly to your job role
• Achieve formal recognition of your learning and the achievement of a nationally recognised standard.
• Progress within your current job by developing your skills and knowledge.

Apprenticeships – where to begin?

Employers can get involved by:

• Employing an apprentice.
• Using apprenticeship programmes to develop the skills and knowledge of their staff.
• Becoming part of a ‘Trailblazer’ group to develop new apprenticeship standards.
• Responding to consultations

These are the steps to follow when recruiting an apprentice and/or sourcing suitable apprenticeship training programmes for existing staff:

1. Choose an apprenticeship framework or standard for an apprenticeship in your industry. The latest apprenticeship standards and those under development can be found on the Institute for Apprenticeships website here.

2. Once the employer has identified the most appropriate apprenticeship standard, they have two options which are to either work with a training provider or to deliver the apprenticeship themselves (if they are an approved employer provider). Approved apprenticeship providers can be found on the Government website https://findapprenticeshiptraining.sfa.bis.gov.uk. Alternatively, if there is a sufficient business case for the employer to become their own apprenticeship provider, they can apply to join the register of apprenticeship training providers (RoATP). More information and guidance on the RoATP application process can be found on the Government website here.

3. Advertise the apprenticeship, if a new position a training provider will do this through the find an apprenticeship service here.

To find out more about employing an apprentice visit the Government website https://www.gov.uk/take-on-an-apprentice.

What is an Apprenticeship Standard?

In response to government reforms, apprenticeship training is transitioning from frameworks to standards.  Apprenticeship Standards have been designed by employer-led ‘trailblazer’ groups to increase the effectiveness of training to meet specific industry needs.

Apprenticeship Standards contain an ‘on-programme’ element leading to a ‘gateway’. The ‘on-programme’ element can be made up of continuous assessment to track the learning of new skills, knowledge and behaviours and may also include completion of a relevant qualification. The training provider (or employer if an approved provider) will deliver the on-programme element leading up to the gateway.

Once the apprentice has completed all the requirements of the standard up to gateway they will then be ready for the end-point assessment (EPA). The EPA may be in the form of a presentation, an interview, a workplace observation or via other methods depending on the requirements of the apprenticeship standard. The End-Point assessment must be delivered by an organisation that has not been involved in the training delivery and who is an approved End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAOs).

The latest standards that have been approved or are under development can be found on the Institute for Apprenticeships website.

If you find there is no apprenticeship standard suitable employers can start to develop an apprenticeship standard. Guidance on apprenticeship standards development can be found on the Institute for Apprenticeships website.

Funding apprenticeships – maximising your levy

Significant changes affecting the funding of apprenticeship training were introduced in May 2017.  These included the introduction of the apprenticeship levy and co-investment funding.

Employers with a pay bill over £3 million each year will now pay an apprenticeship levy that will equate to 0.5% of their annual pay bill.  This levy will be held in a digital account and can be used to fund apprenticeship training programmes for new and existing staff.

From July 2018, levy paying employers are able to transfer up to 25% of their apprenticeship levy funds to multiple businesses, for example, employers in their supply chain.

You can find out more about funding apprenticeship training here.

We can help with your apprenticeship needs

Apprenticeship programmes, Standards and End-Point Assessment may be new to many employers, however, we have many years of experience in developing apprenticeships and can offer facilitation and consultancy to:

• Develop a cost-effective apprenticeship strategy to meet the needs of your business as well as maximise the use of your levy.
• Develop or review apprenticeship standards
• Design and deliver an End-Point Assessment Service.

Find out more about End-point assessment.