Thinking About Taking On An Apprentice?

Running a Business
Thinking about taking on an apprentice?

Apprentices are a great way to develop and expand your business. With many businesses struggling to recruit and skills shortages across a large number of industries, apprentices can provide the solution to support UK business grow. 

Apprenticeships combine studying, for nationally recognised qualifications, and working within the industry they are studying. Apprenticeships can support companies to develop employees with the practical skills and qualifications that their business needs to stay competitive within their industry. 

What is an apprentice?

An apprentice is a full employee, with many of the same rights as a normal employee within your business. They will be aged 16 or over, not in full time education, and could be an existing or new employee. 

Companies that have utilised apprenticeships have noted the commitment, increased loyalty and motivation of many apprentices that they have invested in. With the individuals having made the choice to study a specific role within the business and develop their skills whilst gaining industry experience.

In order to support an apprentice your business must be able to provide them with the opportunity to learn job specific skills, work with experienced staff and be allowed time to study within their working week. Apprenticeship durations can vary from a minimum of one year and up to five years depending on the training programme, business and individual. 

Are there different types of apprenticeships?

Yes. Apprenticeships are available at a variety of equivalent academic levels, from GCSE through to Masters degree level. The four levels of apprentice are as follows:

  • Level 2, Intermediate – five good GCSE passes
  • Level 3, Advanced – two A Level passes
  • Level 4, 5 & 6, Higher – foundation degree and above
  • Level 7 & Degree Apprenticeships – Bachelor’s or Masters degree

What planning and processes need to be in place to hire an apprentice?

Before you can consider an apprentice there are some terms and conditions that your business and the apprentice will need to meet in order to begin. Many of these requirements are based on the individual’s contract terms and include:

  • The offer of employment for a minimum of 30 hours per week, including study time. 
  • Study time should be at least 20% of their working hours. 
  • Apprentices must be paid the National Minimum Wage for Apprentices of £3.90 per hour. Although many employers choose to pay more. The pay includes all the time spent working and training, as part of their apprenticeship. 
  • Provide a fixed term contract of employment that allows sufficient time for the individual to complete their apprenticeship successfully – this must be a minimum of one year.

Linking to the learning and experience you will be providing the apprentice; your business must ensure that you are able to provide the following: 

  • Provide a role(s) that enable the apprentice to gain the skills, behaviours and knowledge needed to succeed in their training and for the future. 
  • Allow for a combination of learning in the workplace with formal off-the-job training, that usually takes place away from the normal working environment. 

Once you are happy that your business can satisfy the above requirements you will need to select an Apprenticeship Training Agency or training provider for the delivery of the apprenticeship training and consider the contract terms of your Apprenticeship Agreement (more information to follow on this).

When considering your training provider partner, you must ensure they are able to provide recognised and approved apprenticeships within your industry and at the appropriate level you require. The relationship with your training provider is very important, and you will need to agree a price for the total cost of each apprenticeship, including all training costs and any potential subcontracted training required. 

If you would prefer to employ an apprentice without the responsibility of running the apprenticeship scheme you can seek a suitable Apprenticeship Training Agency, who will recruit, employ and arrange training for your apprentice. 

Terms of Employment for Apprentices

Apprentices are employed under a contract called an Apprenticeship Agreement that outlines the terms of employment, as well as the training requirements of the apprenticeship. Many of the terms of employment are highlighted above, however for instances following the completion of the apprenticeship, dismissal or incompletion of the apprenticeship, businesses have the following rights to include in the agreement:

  • Dismissals;

Apprentices can be dismissed for the same reasons as normal employees within your business. For apprentice’s whose employment is not renewed, on completion of their training, they will be treated as having been dismissed. As the apprentice is employed on a fixed term contract there would be no need to provide a notice period. 

  • Employment following completion of the apprenticeship;

Of course, if you are happy and able to continue to provide employment for the apprentice you have invested in then you are able to do so on completion of their apprenticeship. However, you are not legally required to provide any form of employment at the end of the apprenticeship, nor do you have a duty to redeploy the apprentice to a suitable alternative. 

  • Apprenticeship repayment;

Should the apprentice choose not to complete or leave the apprenticeship scheme before completing the training programme you are within your rights to ask the apprentice to repay all or part of the expenditure on their training, as long as these terms are included within their Apprenticeship Agreement. 

How do I employ an apprentice?

An apprentice can be employed directly by the business, through an Apprenticeship Agreement, or they can be employed through an Apprenticeship Training Agency who will directly employ the apprentice. In this instance the employer would pay a fee to the Training Agency for the apprentice’s training and work. 

All apprenticeship programmes are delivered alongside a recognised framework, by colleges, employers and training providers, to ensure that all programmes are delivered consistently, to the same standards and include the named qualifications and duration of the apprenticeship. 

Following the completion of an apprenticeship, as identified through the Apprenticeship Agreement, the apprentice must meet the standard completion conditions as recognised by the apprenticeship framework agreed with your business and training provider. 

The apprentice must have completed the full course of training for the qualifications outlined within the chosen framework and met all the requirements specified in order to achieve their apprenticeship certificate.  

Is there funding available to help me?

Yes. The government is keen to support the development and investment in apprenticeships, although the amount of funding available to your business will vary. 

For businesses with a pay bill over £3 million per year, you will pay 0.5% of your annual pay bill into the Apprenticeship Levy Fund. This will allow you to access funding for apprenticeships, using an online account, using approved providers with the government providing a 10% top-up to your business’s fund. The funds from the Levy expire after 24 months and this has been reported to be a hugely under-utilised funding pot across all businesses and industries in the UK. 

For businesses that are not required to pay into the Apprenticeship Levy Fund the government will provide 95% of the funds required for your apprenticeships, asking your business to pay the outstanding 5% costs. As a business you will be responsible for agreeing a payment schedule with an approved training provider and paying them directly. 

There may be additional funding that your business is able to access specific to your circumstances or that of the apprentice’s you wish to employ.

For more information, support and/or advice on taking advantage of the benefits of hiring an apprentice, please get in touch with Byte Accounting.

T: 0116 478 3420


Paul Kennedy Written & Posted by
Paul Kennedy
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