What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are a form of education that is accompanied with a full time job. It is a way for individuals to earn while they learn, gaining valuable skills and knowledge in a specific job role. The apprentice gains this through by learning in the workplace, formal off-the-job training and to practise new skills in a real work environment. Apprenticeships benefit employers and individuals by boosting the skills of the workforce, helping to improve economic productivity.

How do they work?

Every apprentice will be paired with a tutor from a grade 1 or 2 rated Ofsted training provider, guiding them through their apprenticeship journey. Depending on the qualification they are completing, some apprentices will have weekly online sessions with industry leading tutors. Apprentices must spend at least 20% of their time on off-the-job training. This will be the time that the apprentice can complete their coursework, attend online sessions, complete exams and more. However, they may need more than this if for example, they need training in English and maths.

Apprenticeship Levels

Equivalent to GCSE level

A good starting point for anyone with no GCSEs or at a younger age (16)

Equivalent to A – Level

For any apprentices looking to for a qualification at level 3, they must not have A-Levels or higher qualifications in that same field

Equivalent to Foundation degree and above

For anyone looking to continue down the apprenticeship route or up-skill within the workplace. Management and team leading apprenticeships start here.

Equivalent to Bachelors or Masters Degree

The highest level apprenticeship that can currently be completed in England

Depending on the course, it may include regular day release, block release and special training days or workshops. It must be directly relevant to the apprenticeship framework or standard. Some of these training may be able to be completed in the work place. For the rest of the working week the apprentice will do On-the-job training. This is where the apprentice can do their day to day duties gain the skills needed in their sector. Once an apprentice completes their apprenticeship, they should be able to demonstrate that they can perform tasks confidently and completely to the standard set by industry.

Who are they for?

Any individuals over the age of 16 and not in full-time education can apply for an apprenticeship. Employers can offer apprenticeships to new entrants or use them to grow talent from among current employees. However, the chosen candidate must not have a higher qualification in that field. Anyone who applies for an apprenticeship but has A-Levels, BTEC or a Degree in that sector (e.g. Business Administration, Digital Marketing), would not be able to apply.

 What Apprenticeships are Available?

There are now 600 available apprenticeship standards across England. Depending on your business and the role you want covered, there is no shortage. Here at 360 Apprenticeships we specialise in the following areas:

  • Business Administration
  • Customer Service
  • Digital Marketing
  • IT – Infrastructure and Software
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Childcare

Previously apprenticeships were carried out by a scheme known as a Framework. Designed by sector bodies that focused more on the qualification, frameworks were created for the apprentice to complete an NVQ and a BTEC. The disadvantage is there was no end point assessment, with no way of knowing if the apprentice had the skills needed to progress further in that role. Now all apprenticeships are delivered via the Apprenticeship Standard. This is a nationally recognised programme that is now developed by industry leading employers.

Myths and Facts

There are a number of myths that surround the apprenticeship. Here a just some that many believe to be true:


My apprentice will spend a lot of time away from the workplace

That is not the case. Apprenticeships are now completed within the workplace, some with online tutor sessions. Depending on the course, the apprentice may require training outside of the workplace but only for day sessions.

Off-the-job training must be delivered by a provider in a classroom, at an external location

Off the job training is all done within the workplace. Off the job refers to set times that the apprentice can complete any apprenticeship work such as:

  • • Courswork
  • • Exams
  • • Online tutor sessions

20% of the apprentices time should be given for off the job training. This equates to around 1 hour daily / 1 full day a week

I need to document all of the apprentice’s off-the-job training

The apprentice is the one who will document all their off the job training. They do this through an online portal set up by City & Guilds. Here they document what they have done in that time, which can include:

  • • Research
  • • Online tutor sessions
  • • Exams
  • • Training days

Any for of training that is not part of their daily duties should be documented on the online portal.

Off-the-job training can be done in the apprentice’s own time

NO. Everything must be done within the workplace. An apprenticeship is a work-based programme so all off-the-job training must take place within the apprentice’s paid contracted hours. If planned off-the-job training is unable to take place, it must be rearranged.

Benefits of hiring apprentices

Hiring an apprentice is a productive and effective way for any business to grow talent and develop a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce. Employers with an established apprenticeship programme reported that productivity in their workplace had improved by 76%. Whilst 75% reported that apprenticeships improved the quality of their product or service.

Other benefits that apprenticeships contribute towards include:

  • increasing employee satisfaction – reducing staff turnover
  • reducing recruitment costs
  • bringing new and fresh ideas from the outside

 Hiring an apprentice may also bring benefits that could be unique to your business.

Employer responsibilities

There must be a genuine job and contract of employment long enough for an apprentice to complete their apprenticeship. Every apprentice no matter age or skills must be paid; and the role must help them gain the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to achieve the apprenticeship.

Employers need to have:

  • an agreement in place with their apprentice for the duration of the apprenticeship
  • a commitment statement signed by the apprentice, their employer and the provider
  • a written agreement with providers for employers who pay the apprenticeship levy and use the apprenticeship service, they will need to have a contract for services with their main provider
  • a minimum apprenticeship of 1 year
  • the apprentice on the correct wage for their age, for the time they are in work, in off-the-job training and doing further study

Additional payments and funding which may be available

Employers are not required to pay National Insurance Contributions for apprentices under the age of 25. As long as they are on earnings below the higher tax rate of £827 a week (£43,000 a year).

£1,000 payment to both the employer and provider when they train a 16 – to 18-year-old. £1,000 payment to both the employer and provider when they train a 19- to 24-year-old who has previously been in care or who has a local authority education, health and care plan.

  • 16 – 18 – £2000 (on top of the £1000 you already receive)
  • 19 – 24 – £1,500
  • 25+ – £1000

Due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, there is extra funding for all hired apprentices. any employer who hires an apprentice will get the following for training purposes:

The apprenticeship levy

The Apprenticeship Levy is a fund from the government to employers for apprenticeship recruitment, to help improve training and existing skills within workforces. The levy is only payable to employers who pay an annual amount of £3 million through payroll, or have over one hundred employees.

Why should I use the Levy?

  • you can decide what skills would be beneficial to your business development and the apprentice employee you employ.
  • up-skilling your current workforce – for example, enrolling an administrator on a Level 4 Business Administration course to improve their skills in the role, or give a current employee the opportunity to complete a Leadership and Management course to set them up for promotion.
  • many university graduates with existing skills are looking for apprentice-ships to gain experience, their transferrable skills could be beneficial to your business.

What about non-levy-paying employers?

Any employers with a pay bill of less than £3 million a year will not need to pay the levy. 90% of non-levy-paying employers’ apprenticeship training and assessment costs in England will be paid for by the government. The government will ask these employers to make a 5 – 10% contribution to the cost paid directly to the provider, and the government covers the rest (up to the maximum agreed funding band).