How do apprenticeships benefit employers?

Demand for digital skills is high. In 2018, Deloitte found that only 16% of executives believe their talent pool has enough knowledge and expertise to deliver their digital strategy. Traditional HE programmes are not delivering the skills that are most in demand, so companies are broadening the areas from which they recruit.

This is where apprenticeships come in. 86% of employers said apprenticeships developed skills relevant to their organisation and 78% reported improved productivity. Moreover, you can adapt the training your apprentice receives according to the needs of your organisation, focusing on the areas where your digital skills need a boost.

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What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships can feel like a new phenomenon, but they actually date back to the Middle Ages. Young people would work for a skilled craftsperson in exchange for tuition in their chosen trade, plus food and lodgings.

More recently, in 1994, the government launched Modern Apprenticeships (MAs) to boost work-based training in England and Wales. By 1998, almost 250,000 people had started an apprenticeship.

In 2012, the Government commissioned the Richard Review, which recommended that apprenticeships were more employer-orientated. This led to the Trailblazer apprenticeship standards we know today being introduced.

An apprenticeship today combines a real job with training, allowing junior talent to earn while they learn and achieve an industry-recognised qualification. Unlike in the 1300s, apprenticeships are not just open to young people. Anyone over the age of 16 who is not enrolled in full-time education can complete an apprenticeship.

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How do apprenticeships work?

Are you looking to hire a new team member or do you have someone in mind? If you’ve already got someone on board, you may want to skip to the next section. Otherwise, keep reading.

Step 1: We work with you to recruit an apprentice. We’ll advertise your vacancy, conduct the initial screening and telephone interviews and set work-related challenges at no extra cost, before passing promising candidates to you for interview. Candidates range from school and college leavers to graduates to those with some work experience under their belt.

Step 2: You interview a selection of candidates and make the hiring decision. The apprentice is employed by you and works within your business. They spend 20% of their time (approx. 1 day per week) on off-the-job training, working towards their qualification.

Step 3: We coach your apprentice through their exams and coursework and help them apply their new knowledge and skills in the workplace. This coaching can be delivered at one of our training venues, online or at your premises.

Step 4: As your apprentice develops their skills, they start adding huge value to your team and bring a fresh perspective to business challenges.

Step 5: Your apprentice undertakes End Point Assessment and successfully completes their apprenticeship.

How are apprenticeships funded?

If your business has an annual payroll bill of more than £3m you will already be paying the apprenticeship levy. Introduced in May 2017, the apprenticeship levy is a 0.5% payroll tax that can only be used on approved apprenticeship training. Any money not spent at the end of the year reverts to the government.

Once your levy fund has been spent, or if you have a PAYE bill of less than £3m, the government pays 95% of the apprenticeship cost and you pay the remaining 5%.

The biggest cost to hiring an apprentice is their salary. Although minimum wage for apprentices is £4.15 per hour, a higher entry-level salary is usually needed to attract the right people to your role. We’ll be able to help you define this during the recruitment process.

Do companies get paid for taking on apprentices?

Yes. The government offers a £1,000 incentive payment if your apprentice is aged 16-18 or 19-24 with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.

On top of this, the government has introduced Covid response incentives, valid for starts until 31st January 2021. This entitles you to an additional £2,000 when you employ an apprentice aged 16-24 or £1,500 if the apprentice is over 25.

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Yes. When you take on an apprentice they become an employee of your company. This means they have the same employee rights as other team members. Your apprentice will be entitled to national minimum wage, including on college days.

Yes. An apprentice is an employee of your company, so should have an employment contract. In addition to this, an apprenticeship agreement must be signed by the apprentice and the employer at the start of the apprenticeship, to confirm the role the apprentice is being trained for and which apprenticeship standard it relates to.

Yes. Apprentices usually work 30-40 hours per week, including time spent at college or on off-the-job training. Part-time hours can be agreed between you and your apprentice at a minimum of 16 hours per week. This may be beneficial where apprentices have caring responsibilities. Where apprenticeships are part time, training will be completed over a longer period and completion dates recalculated.

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