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The basics


What are Apprenticeships?

They are work-based training programmes designed around the needs of employers, which lead to national recognised qualifications. You can use Apprenticeships to train both new and existing employees. Funding is available to train apprentices.

Apprenticeships are designed by the Sector Skills Councils, while the National Apprenticeship Service helps to fund the training. Business representatives from the relevant industry sector work with the Sector Skills Councils to develop the course content. Because they genuinely understand your business, the training will be relevant for your industry.

Over 100,000 employers in over 160,000 workplaces offer frameworks across a wide range of industry sectors.

Depending on the sector and job role an Apprenticeship can take anything between one and four years to complete. It is a package of on-the-job training and qualifications.

Facts in numbers

  • Over 80% of those employers who employ apprentices agree they make their workplace more productive.
  • 81% of consumers favour using a company which takes on apprentices.
  • The National Minimum Wage for apprentices is £2.60 per hour. Many employers prefer to pay more however, and research shows that the average salary is approx £170 per week.
  • Employers who take on a 16-18 year old apprentice only pay their salary. The Government will fund their training.
  • There are more than 200 different types of Apprenticeships available offering over 1,200 job roles.
  • 92% of employers who employ apprentices believe that Apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce.
  • 83% of employers who employ apprentices rely on their Apprenticeships programme to provide the skilled workers that they need for the future.
  • One in five employers are hiring more apprentices to help them through the tough economic climate.


There are three levels of Apprenticeship available:

1 - Intermediate Level Apprenticeships

  • Apprentices work towards work-based learning qualifications such as a Level 2 Competence Qualification, Functional Skills and, in most cases, a relevant knowledge-based qualification.

2 - Advanced Level Apprenticeships 

  • Apprentices work towards work-based learning such as a Level 3 Competence Qualification, Functional Skills and, in most cases, a relevant knowledge-based qualification.

3 - Higher Apprenticeships

  • Apprentices work towards work-based learning qualifications such as a Level 4 Competence Qualification, Functional Skills and, in some cases, a  knowledge-based qualification such as a Foundation Degree.

Find out more about the current range of Higher Apprenticeships available, developing new frameworks and the Higher Apprenticeship Investment Fund.

 Types of Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are available in a wide range of industry sectors with employers from large national companies such as Sainsburys, BMW and Orange to smaller local companies.

There are more than 200 different types of Apprenticeships available offering over 1,200 job roles within a variety of industry sectors ranging from accountancy and engineering to veterinary nursing and floristry.

There a whole section of this website outlining the different types of Apprenticeship framework currently available. To view the current list simply click on the 'Apprenticeships' tab at the top of the page or alternatively click on the link below.

Training and Employment

As Apprenticeships are work-based training programmes, most of the training is ‘on the job’ – at your premises. The rest can be provided by a local college or by a specialist learning provider, or you could deliver everything yourself.

As the employer you must give your apprentices an induction into their role and provide on-the-job training. You are also responsible for paying your apprentices’ wages.

Employment must be for at least 30 hours per week, except in the minority of circumstances where the learner cannot complete the full 30 hours. In these cases employment must be for more than 16 hours per week.

A learning provider will provide an employer representative who will be able to support and guide you. They will work with you to:

  • help you decide which Apprenticeship is right for you;
  • explain the way that Apprenticeships might work for you and if funding is available;
  • agree a training plan with your apprentice;
  • recruit an apprentice or support your existing staff into Apprenticeships;
  • manage the training and evaluation; and
  • ensure that national quality standards are met and deliver integrated, coherent training.

If you wish to find a learning provider yourself we have a facility that allows you to search for a provider in your area by sector or Apprenticeship framework.


Apprenticeship funding is available from the National Apprenticeship Service. The size of the contribution varies depending on your sector and the age of the candidate. If the apprentice is aged 16–18 years old, you will receive 100 per cent of the cost of the training; if they are 19-24 years old, you will receive up to 50 per cent; if they are 25 years old or over you may only get a contribution depending on the sector and area in which you operate.

This is paid directly to the organisation that provides and supports the Apprenticeship; in most cases this will be a learning provider. Large employers with a direct contract with the National Apprenticeship Service may receive the funding themselves.

National Minimum Wage

A National Minimum Wage for apprentices was introduced on 1 October 2010. The wage applies to all apprentices aged under 19; and apprentices aged 19 or over in the first year of their Apprenticeship.

The apprentice minimum wage is currently £2.60 per hour and applies to time working, plus time spent training that is part of the Apprenticeship. Employers are be free to pay above the new wage and many do so, but employers must ensure that they are paying their apprentices at least the minimum wage.

If an apprentice is on a higher wage, the employer must continue to pay that for the remainder of the training or until the apprentice becomes eligible for the full national minimum wage.

 Small Employer Incentive

On 16th November 2011, the government announced a new incentive to encourage thousands of small firms that don’t currently employ apprentices to take on a young apprentice aged 16 to 24. This will support up to 40,000 new Apprenticeships.

The incentive is for employers with up to 50 (and in some cases up to 250) employees and comprises a payment of £1,500 payable in two stages. It will be available to small firms in all industries and for Apprenticeships at all levels from April 2012.

The business benefits

Apprenticeships can help businesses across all sectors by offering a route to harness fresh new talent.

UK businesses consider skills shortages and recruitment difficulties a bigger threat to performance than soaring oil prices and declining consumer spending, and more than a quarter of these rate this form of vocational training higher than any other qualification.

Apprenticeships ensure that your workforce has the practical skills and qualifications your organisation needs now and in the future. The mixture of on and off job learning ensures they learn the skills that work best for your business.

Over 130,000 workplace offer apprentice places because they understand the benefits that apprentices bring to their business – increased productivity, improved competitiveness and a committed and competent work-force.

 Improve your bottom line

Apprenticeships deliver real returns to your bottom line, with Apprenticeships helping them to improve productivity and to be more competitive. Training apprentices can also be more cost effective than hiring skilled staff, leading to lower overall training and recruitment costs.

 Fill your skills gaps

Apprenticeships deliver skills designed around your business needs providing the skilled workers you need for the future. They also help you develop the specialist skills you need to keep pace with the latest technology and working practices in your sector.

 Motivate your workforce

Apprentices tend to be eager, motivated, flexible and loyal to the company that invested in them. Remember, an apprentice is with you because they want to be – they have made an active choice to learn on the job and a commitment to a specific career.

 What do employers say?

Business leaders from a range of industries and backgrounds across England give their support for Apprenticeships and voice their ambition to help grow the number of places available.

Return on Investment Calculator

The Return on Investment (ROI) calculator has been designed to help you understand the returns you can possibly gain on investing in Apprenticeships.

Drawing on research from the Warwick Institute for Employment Research (‘The Net Benefits to Employer Investment in Apprenticeship Training’ – November 2008) into the costs and benefits of Apprenticeships, the ROI calculator has been made available to help employers make the right decisions.

The ROI calculator estimates the average costs of employing and training an apprentice against the gains that come when their ‘additional productivity’ impacts on the business.

Benefits in numbers

Earlier research, conducted in February 2008 by Populus on behalf of the LSC to launch the first National Apprenticeship Week revealed:

  • 77% of employers believe Apprenticeships make them more competitive;
  • 76% say that Apprenticeships provide higher overall productivity;
  • 80% feel that Apprenticeships reduce staff turnover;
  • 83% of employers rely on their Apprenticeships programme to provide the skilled workers that they need for the future;
  • Two-thirds of respondents believe that their Apprenticeship programme helps them fill vacancies more quickly, whilst
  • 88% believe that Apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce;
  • 59% report that training apprentices is more cost-effective than hiring skilled staff, with 59% believing that Apprenticeships lead to lower overall training costs and 53% feeling that they reduce recruitment costs;
  • In terms of the return on investment linked to Apprenticeships, 41% say that their apprentices make a valuable contribution to the business during their training period, while a further third (33%) report that apprentices add value within their first few weeks (or even from Day One);
  • 57% report a high proportion of their apprentices going on to management positions within the company;
  • Over three-quarters of respondents expect apprenticeships to play a bigger part in their recruitment policy in the future.

Further Research

A study carried out by the University of Warwick Institute for Employment Research (IER) demonstrated that Apprenticeships are an investment by employers and where the investment is nurtured, the returns to the employer are significant.

Based on detailed employer case studies in seven sectors the study was commissioned and scrutinised by the business leaders who form the Apprenticeships Ambassador Network (AAN).

The study showed that the costs of training are quickly recouped upon completion of the Apprenticeships. Other benefits include; retention within the company, understanding of company values, and progression to become managers and supervisors.

Public Sector Skills Challenge

It is not just the Private Sector who can benefit from taking on apprentices. Many public sector organisations could be taking advantage Apprenticeships, as a way of unlocking talent within their local communities and ensuring that they have a workforce equipped with the skills it needs for today and tomorrow.

We dispel the myths and provide a whole range of case studies of public sector organisations who have benefited from Apprenticeships.