Apprenticeships – what are they and how could they work for me?

We provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions by business owners.
5 January 2018

Wondering what an apprenticeship involves and how it may benefit your organisation? Here are our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

What does an apprenticeship involve?

An apprenticeship is a job which includes training. Apprentices not only carry out work, but also earn recognised qualifications. These are the areas the training usually covers:

  • An English, maths and sometimes ICT (Information Communication Technology) qualification 
  • A skills-based element
  • A module on personal development

How long does the apprenticeship take?

It depends on the prior knowledge of the apprentice, the qualification and industry sector. But generally, apprenticeships take between one and four years to complete.

What levels are there?

There are various levels of apprenticeship. It all depends on the candidate’s skills and qualifications. They are:

  • Intermediate apprenticeship (level 2)
  • Advanced apprenticeship (level 3)
  • Higher apprenticeship (levels 4-7)
  • Degree apprenticeship (levels 6-7)

What financial support is offered to employers?

There is a large amount of support available from government that reduces the cost of taking on an apprentice significantly.

If your business has a wage bill of less than 3million, you will have to contribute just 10% towards the cost of training and if your apprentice is under the age of 19 and you have less than 50 employees there will be no cost for training at all.

Alternatively, if your business has a wage bill of more than 3million, you will now be required through the Apprenticeship Levy to pay 0.5% of your payroll (minus a £15,000 allowance) into your apprenticeship service account, from which you can then draw, after a 10% top-up from the government, for apprenticeship training.

In addition, if you hire an apprentice under the age of 25 you may also be able to claim back your National Insurance Contributions for them.

If you are a SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises or businesses) of less than 50 employees you may also be eligible for the AGE (Apprenticeship Grant for Employers) grant of £1,500. Read the government's AGE employers fact sheet [PDF] for more information.

Why take on an apprentice?

Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to develop business-specific skills, find and mould new talent or upskill existing staff.

In addition, taking on an apprentice can also help your business to:

  • Improve productivity and performance
  • Improve team morale by showcasing your commitment to career development
  • Reduce wage bill costs
  • Reduce skills-gaps
  • Tailor skills sets
  • Enhance your reputation 

How much are apprentices paid?

An apprentice needs to be employed for at least 30 hours per week for a minimum of 12 months and be paid the apprentice wage of £3.50 per hour, although many employers pay more.

Central YMCA works with many employers across the UK helping them find apprentices that fit their business needs. 

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