Insights Help! I need an apprentice. Where do I start?
09 August 2017

Help! I need an apprentice. Where do I start?

Help I need an apprentice

Companies are progressively realising the benefits of growing their own talent in the workplace and being increasingly driven to recruit an apprentice as an option to expand. It’s easy to see why: over 80% of businesses report that apprentices have benefited their organisation. When you recruit an apprentice, you get someone developing and applying real-world skills and experience to your company – not just theory gained solely from a text book or academic lecture.

The world of apprenticeships has changed radically in the past year, opening up opportunities for employers and young people. Navigating the new system isn’t always easy. If you’re curious about hiring an apprentice or have questions about funding, here’s how it works in England:

What government grants are available for apprentices?

Apprenticeships are funded in different ways, depending on your company size. If your organisation has a payroll of more than £3m, you can draw down funds from your apprenticeship levy account. Large public sector and not for profit organisations, as well as private business, pay the apprenticeship levy – so it’s always worth checking the funding options. Your HR or finance team will be able to tell you if your organisation pays the apprenticeship levy. Funding is for the cost of the apprentice training and assessment.

If your business does not pay the apprenticeship levy, because your payroll bill is smaller than £3m, government funding is available with a 10% top-up from you. And that’s not all. If you take on a 16-18 year old apprentice, you can receive £1,000 additional funding.

Do I have to pay an apprentice?

You must pay your apprentice at least the National Apprenticeship wage. Often companies choose to pay more than this, recognising their apprentices’ value and the demand for young talent.

How can my apprentice develop?

Apprentices spend the majority of their time at work, combined with industry-related learning. This learning might be formal classroom training, one-to-one coaching, e-learning, secondment or practical training. Training can be at your workplace, or off-site. It depends on the types of apprenticeships, and what works best for you and your apprentice.

As the employer, you decide what they do day to day, on the understanding that the work helps them learn skills related to their apprenticeship. This includes allowing them to work alongside experienced staff. Your apprentice will be assessed at the end of their apprenticeship, so it’s important they can evidence their workplace skills gained throughout their time working with you.

How long will the apprenticeship last?

Apprenticeships vary in length, depending on their level, and how long the individual takes to gather the skills required. An intermediate apprenticeship might typically last 12 months, whereas degree apprenticeships could last 3-4 years.

When you employ an apprentice for the first time their initial contract must cover the length of the apprenticeship. This is usually a fixed term contract. But having developed new talent, many businesses choose to offer their apprentice a role, keen to retain their skills. Similarly, there’s no obligation for your apprentice to stay with you after their apprenticeship. But many are keen to stay with the company that’s invested in them and continue to grow.

Who decides which apprentice I get?

Apprenticeships are similar to any other job vacancy. As the employer, you get to shortlist candidates and decide who’s best for your business. Providers like Seetec offer a full apprenticeship recruitment service for free. This includes helping you develop a job advert, promoting your role, shortlisting candidates and giving them interview feedback. We then help settle your new apprentice into their learning programme.

How old does someone have to be to apply for apprenticeships?

Apprentices must be 16 or over and typically most applicants for an entry level role would be 16-24. But you’re free to hire someone older with more experience.

Who delivers the off-the-job training?

As the employer, you need to select a partner that is on the government’s register of apprenticeship training providers (RoATP) and can deliver training related to the apprenticeship. Some providers specialise only in certain types of apprenticeships, such as accountancy or customer service. Larger providers like Seetec, offer a broader range of apprenticeship training, at different levels, in a variety of industry sectors.

If you plan to recruit a large number of apprentices or apprentices in different specialisms, it might make sense to appoint one main provider who can manage other training providers on your behalf. They’ll be able to deal with paperwork, contract management and reporting on your behalf, as well as helping ensure you can draw down funding. They may also be able to offer wider services, such as workforce planning consultancy and talent attraction schemes. As the employer, it pays to shop around to see which provider can best match your needs.

Established for over thirty years, Seetec is one of the UK’s leading apprenticeship providers. From digital media and finance, to aviation and business management, we provide tailored apprenticeship recruitment and programme management services to the private, public and not for profit sector. To find out more about Seetec’s apprenticeship services, how to make the most of the Apprenticeship Levy and other funding sources, contact us today.