When someone mentions apprenticeships, most people’s minds wander to learning a physical trade, such as becoming a plumber, scaffolder or electrician. Once upon a time, this would have been absolutely correct, but apprenticeships have changed significantly.
The Merriam Webster online dictionary describes apprenticeships as:
“An arrangement in which someone learns an art, trade, or job under another.”1
This definition seems a rather reductionist description. To further explain, apprenticeships allow an individual to access on-the-job training in almost any industry whilst studying for a formal qualification in the relevant field. The course is split between 80% of time undertaking normal work tasks and 20% developing skills in their chosen subject, either in the workplace, at a training centre, or an online learning platform. Apprenticeships aren’t just available to new starters. They can also be offered to existing staff, in order to develop their skills and give them additional career development opportunities.
Apprenticeships are available in varying levels ranging from intermediate to degree standard. As the level of an apprenticeship increases, additional qualifications are required to be accepted onto the course.
|Apprenticeship Level||Grade Equivalence||Entry Requirement|
|Level 2 (Intermediate)||5 GCSE Passes||Minimum age 16 and having an interest in the subject.|
|Level 3 (Advanced)||2 A-levels||Employers usually seek 3 GSCEs (including English and Maths)|
|Level 4 (Higher)||Foundation Degree||GCSEs and Level 3 qualifications, experience in a relevant subject is likely to be desired.|
|Level 5 (Higher)||Bachelor’s Degree||Same as level 4, but with higher minimum grades and previous experience required.|
|Level 6 (Degree)||Bachelor’s Degree||Same as level 5, but with higher minimum grades.|
|Level 7 (Degree)||Master’s Degree||A bachelor’s degree or equivalent level 4 qualifications, with a number of years’ experience.|
Apprenticeship courses are funded through the apprenticeship levy, which is paid by all companies with a payroll bill of more than £3 million. Companies that contribute to the apprenticeship levy don’t need to pay any extra for the apprenticeship training. Non-levy paying employers can also offer apprenticeships too, contributing just 5% towards the cost of the course. The remaining 95% is paid out of the apprenticeship levy pot.
It is important to note that the Government do not fund Apprentices’ wages. It is the employer’s responsibility to pay their workers, including apprentices. The rate which the apprentice receives is at the discretion of their employer, but the minimum wage for apprentices is lower than the normal rate:
|Age||During First Year of Apprenticeship||After First Year of Apprenticeship|
|23 and over||£4.30||£8.91|
Most employers pay over the minimum wage for their apprentices, in order to secure the best candidates available. As with recruiting all new employees, the rate depends on their experience, the skills required, and the type of work the apprentice is expected to complete.
The company that takes on the apprentice usually does so with the aim of them becoming a permanent staff member after the completion of their course. Whilst this is good practice, some companies prefer not to offer an apprentice a position after their course ends in order to keep employing further apprentices below the normal minimum wage.
In order for apprenticeship schemes to be funded, employers must choose a training provider which is accredited by the government. The list of accredited providers can be found on the Government website.2 The apprenticeship training provider tailors the apprentice’s learning to focus on a specific vocation, and it is the employer that decides what skills are needed in their team.
Studies have found that the introduction of an apprenticeship scheme can have a significant positive impact in the workplace with 78% of employers stating apprenticeships helped them improve productivity.3
The most popular types of apprenticeship courses being: 4
- Business, Administration and Law apprenticeships
- Health, Public Services and Care apprenticeships
- Retail and Commercial Enterprise
- Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies
- Construction and Planning
We at Exceed, believe in the opportunities that apprenticeships offer. Our employees have completed, are actively pursuing or are about to embark on apprenticeships in Marketing (level 4 and level 6), Payroll (level 3), Sales (level 4) and HR (level 3).
Jenny Nicholson at Exceed Outsourcing has recently completed a level 3 apprenticeship in HR Support. She said:
“Apprenticeships give you the chance to develop new skills. One factor I really liked about the apprenticeship course that I recently completed was that it allowed me to begin the transition into a role I had never worked in before, whilst still being able to do my day-to-day job.”
Timea Hirsch, Payroll Administration Apprentice at Exceed Outsourcing, replied:
“I wanted to learn something new, as well as study a subject that complements my maths skills and previous job experience within the financial sector. Hence, I want a qualification that can consolidate my knowledge and will enhanced my career.”
Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to offer individuals entry to a new industry, as well as progress their careers. Employers can benefit greatly from training apprentices as they offer a fresh perspective to the company outlook and are able to increase the diversity of skills within the workforce, at minimal cost.