Employer Guide to Apprenticeships

Our apprenticeships are a 15-24 month investment in the transformation of your business functions. This guide explains more about what apprenticeships are and how they are delivered. It will also help you understand your responsibilities as an employer of an apprentice.

Sections in this guide

What is an Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a paid job where the employee learns and gains valuable experiences. This involves the employee being on a training programme that usually lasts at least 15+ months (including the assessment period).

They must spend around 20% of their working hours completing training with an accredited provider. That’s the part we look after.

Apprentices are entitled to the same benefits and have the same rights as other employees. This means that they get:

  • a salary, paid at the same time as everyone else
  • the same number of holidays as other employees on similar contracts
  • the same incentives and perks
  • the same entitlement to paid sick leave

Each apprenticeship is a practical course that helps an employee learn about a profession. They will combine their activity with us with real-world experience in the workplace to develop their knowledge, skills and behaviours.

Why Should I Add an Apprentice to my Team?

Hiring an apprentice is a productive and cost-effective way to grow the skills within your business. Their training closely matches the role, the needs of the immediate team and of the business as a whole, enabling you to expand and upskill your workforce.

You can hire someone new or upskill a promising existing employee. And, as an employer, you can get government funding to pay for all or most of their training.

Apprentices can be at different levels, from school leavers to university graduates, to people who want to further their careers or change direction completely.

Figures from apprenticeships.gov.uk state:

  • 86% of employers said apprenticeships helped them develop skills relevant to their organisation
  • 78% of employers said apprenticeships helped them improve productivity
  • 74% of employers said apprenticeships helped them improve the quality of their product or service

As of September 2022, there are more than 650 apprenticeship standards approved for delivery by the Institute for Apprenticeships. They exist in many professions, and the likelihood is if you are looking to recruit or provide training for a member of staff there exists a standard which covers that job role.

We offer apprenticeships in sales, marketing, and communications as well as specialist government professions. A full list of standards and levels is available on our website.

Funding and Incentives

The cost to you for an apprentice is different depending on the particular apprenticeship. Where the money comes from depends on the size of your organisation.

If you pay the apprenticeship levy

Businesses with a payroll over £3m per year currently contribute to an apprenticeship levy. The levy is mandatory and is charged at 0.5% of your annual pay bill. The government tops up your levy account by an additional 10%.

25% of your levy funds can also be transferred or ‘gifted’, to support smaller, non-levy organisations with funding apprenticeships. This is done through your Apprenticeship Service account.

If you do not pay the apprenticeship levy

If your business does not pay the levy, you need to pay 5% of the total training cost, and the government will pay the remaining 95%. You will pay JGA directly on an agreed schedule.

Use your apprenticeships service account to manage funding and provider payments.

If you have fewer than 50 employees you will be eligible for 100% funding for individuals aged 16-18.

All organisations

You will need to register for an apprenticeship service account so you can manage your apprenticeship funds online and reserve funds if you are a non-levy payer.

Whether you pay the levy or not, you will then take on all associated costs for the apprentice, who should have the same terms as a normal member of staff with the exception of their wage.

Apprentices must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage. There are different rates of pay for apprentices depending on their age and what year of their apprenticeship they’ve completed.

We strongly advise you to pay better than this. Our experience is that staff paid the bare minimum rarely stay for long and this signals that the apprenticeship is not valuable.

Apprentices should be paid for:

  • their normal working hours
  • taking part in any training that is part of the apprenticeship
  • time spent studying for English and Maths, if needed

More information is available at https://www.gov.uk/employing-an-apprentice/pay-and-conditions-for-apprentices.

Current training costs

All apprenticeship standards are listed on the Institute For Apprenticeships’ website. These explain the current training costs for all approved standards and are a useful guide to how much the apprenticeship will cost.

If you are ever in doubt, speak to us and we will let you know the cost to your business. This can differ depending on the apprentice’s previous experience. This is covered more in the section on Skillscans and prior learning.


A £1,000 cash incentive is also available to all employers of any turnover size if a newly recruited apprentice is aged 16-18 or is both aged 25 or below and had an education, health & care plan or used to be in care.

Employers of apprentices under the age of 25 will also no longer be required to pay secondary Class 1 National Insurance contributions. This incentive is a saving up to 13.8% on everything the apprentice earns over £8,840 a year.

There are also occasional incentives from the government for businesses who recruit an apprentice. We will advise you of these when they are announced.

How Does an Apprenticeship Work?

An apprenticeship is made up of three different stages.  

We deliver the On-Programme Delivery phase which is made up of teaching and training to support the apprentice’s development.  

Gateway is used for the apprentice, yourself, and the Skills Coach to confirm readiness and competence against the requirements of the apprenticeship and job role.  

Finally, End-Point Assessment is an independent check and test of this competence to confirm the award of the qualification.

Diagram showing flow of stages from on programme delivery, through gateway to end point assessment

Functional Skills

Apprentices must have achieved at least Level 2 in English and Maths (equivalent to grades A-C or 4-9 in GCSE) by the time their training ends. If they do not have these qualifications at the start of their apprenticeship, they will have to study functional skills alongside their training.

Other reasons that employees may need to study functional skills during their apprenticeship include:

  • Not being able to find the original exam certificates
  • Achieving English and Maths qualifications with an exam board that is not recognised by the Government

We understand functional skills is often difficult for apprentices and a pain point for employers. So, we have developed provision that is tailored to meet the individual needs of each apprentice and has very high satisfaction rates amongst apprentices and our employer partners. This delivery consists of 10 teaching sessions, each of 1 hour and 30 minutes delivered by a specialist functional skills tutor. These are all delivered remotely but take place during normal working hours.

Off-the-job Training

Apprentices need to spend around 20% of their time completing learning activities which are not part of their day-to-day job role. This is called off-the-job training.

It is a requirement of the government that this is at least 6 hours a week, but most courses require a bit longer to complete – around 1 day a week. The total hours required are referred to as the planned hours.

Apprentices who started a programme before August 2022 are required to complete a minimum of 20% of their working hours on off-the-job training.

As you would expect, the off-the-job training will include learning resources and activities provided and delivered by JGA, but it can also include learning opportunities that occur naturally within the workplace.

Examples of off-the-job training include:

  • Attending a classroom or online seminar as part of their apprenticeship
  • Doing their own research into their subject area, either by watching videos, listening to podcasts, or reading
  • Attending webinars with external companies
  • Work shadowing, mentoring, or visits

To qualify as off-the-job training, activities must:

  • be directly relevant to the apprenticeship standard
  • teach new knowledge, skills, or behaviours
  • take place within the apprentice’s normal working hours

Off-the-job training can take place either in the apprentice’s usual place of work, at home, or at any other location. Studying for an English or Maths qualification at level 2 does not count as off-the-job training.

We will advise and guide the apprentices through the process of logging off-the-job training and help them map their training to their apprenticeship standard, ensuring that everything they do is counted towards their qualification.

This is recorded in an online portfolio system called OneFile, which shows the apprentice their progress against the planned off-the-job hours they need to complete.


All apprenticeship standards outline the knowledge, skills, and behaviours (KSBs) that a person in that relevant occupation will be expected to demonstrate. An apprenticeship, therefore, will upskill an apprentice over the duration of the On-Programme Delivery to be competent and confident with demonstrating these KSBs. The apprentice must be able to demonstrate all of the KSBs by the end of the programme in order to achieve the apprenticeship.

We develop training programmes that will impart knowledge, teach skills, and help apprentices develop behaviours that will benefit them throughout their careers. They should have the opportunity to work on and demonstrate the KSBs in their job role in order for an apprenticeship to be successful. Some apprenticeship standards also have occupational duties that outline the tasks the apprentice should undertake to ensure the KSBs are applied in their role.

End-Point Assessment

When an apprentice has demonstrated all of the knowledge, skills, and behaviours that are associated with their standard, they will be ready for End-Point Assessment.

At this time, we hand the apprentice over to an independent End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) which has the job of assessing the apprentice’s level of competence and assigns them a grade, usually distinction, pass, merit or fail.

In order to achieve a rounded view of the apprentice, End Point Assessment usually involves two or three methods, each of which contributes to the final grade. For example, an exam or multiple-choice test, followed up by a work-based project, and then a professional discussion about what they have learned during their apprenticeship.

We work with and coach apprentices to be more comfortable writing reports and delivering presentations so that they are not as daunted at End-Point Assessment. Mock interviews check whether the apprentice is ready before they go to End-Point Assessment.

Some of the common assessment methods include:


This will involve the independent assessor observing the apprentice completing their normal duties in the workplace. The observation will also feature questioning that may take place during and following the observation.

Knowledge Test

Tests are included to predominantly assess an apprentice’s knowledge. This may be in the form of multiple choice, written response or a mixture of both.

Professional Discussion

A professional discussion is a two-way discussion between the assessor and the apprentice. It aims to assess the apprentice’s in-depth understanding of their work through a formal conversation. Often underpinned by the evidence in the portfolio, the apprentice will proactively contribute to the discussion to confirm their competency across the KSBs.


In this assessment method, the apprentice will respond to set questions that will assess competence against the KSBs. The assessor leads the interview to enable a structured assessment.

Presentation and Questioning

The apprentice will produce and deliver a presentation to the independent assessor on a particular topic. The presentation will then be followed by some questions for the apprentice to answer.


With a project, the apprentice completes a significant and defined piece of work. As part of this, they may also be required to produce a report or presentation to be submitted alongside the work products. The project may be a simulated exercise or could be a workplace project that meets the needs of the business. It may then be followed by questioning, discussion, or interview, depending on the standard.

Our Delivery Method

We deliver our apprenticeships remotely using Microsoft Teams. This means learners no longer have to spend time and money travelling to centres and allows us to have a range of learners from across the country in one digital classroom.

Seminars take place at regular intervals depending on the standard. This could be:

  • once every two months
  • once a month
  • twice a month

All courses are structured so that there is work for apprentices to complete before and after each seminar. The work is uploaded to the OneFile eportfolio system and marked by tutors who return their feedback.

Diagram showing the learner journey stages of enrolment, seminars, one to one support and progress reviews

Apprentices will have regular 1-2-1 meetings with their designated skills coach. The line manager is invited to take part for the first few minutes. The coach will work with the apprentice to develop job skills and to prepare for End-Point Assessment.

Once a quarter the apprentice and their line manager will attend a formal progress review with the skills coach or a dedicated progress adviser. This is a chance to keep everyone up to date with the apprentice’s progress and address any issues or concerns there may be.

Apprentices use an online eportfolio system called OneFile to build a portfolio of evidence to confirm that they have achieved the KSBs. It is also used to set tasks, track progress and provide access to virtual learning resources and recordings of seminars. Line Manager’s are given accounts to OneFile so they can monitor the progress of their apprentice(s) and sign the quarterly progress reviews.

Prior Learning and Skill Scans

When enrolling onto one of our apprenticeships, we establish the prior learning and experience of the apprentice. Through a Skill Scan, we can understand the apprentice’s starting position to ensure the apprenticeship is tailored to meet individual training needs.

All apprentices complete these self-assessments so that we can check they are going to study at the right level for their experience. If a learner already has a reasonable level of knowledge in some of the KSBs they may be able to bypass some assessment elements. If this is the case, then the training costs for that apprentice could be lower.

Workplace Development Plan

At the start of the apprenticeship, we will work with the line manager and apprentice to produce a workplace development plan. This document is unique to each apprentice and includes information on how they will make progress towards the KSBs in the workplace.

  • shadowing other teams or members of staff
  • undertaking placements in other departments
  • a recognition of additional skills they will need to develop to succeed at work

The workplace development plan is reviewed regularly by the skills coach and learner to check progress. At each quarterly review, learners set SMART targets for their learning objectives too. These are reviewed at each meeting.