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. This includes their assessment period, which will be covered later.

They must spend at least 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 skills.

Funding and Incentives

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

If you pay the apprenticeship levy

Businesses with an employer 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.

If you are a levy-paying employer you need to register for the apprenticeship service so you can manage your apprenticeship funds online.

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.

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

A £1,000 cash incentive is also available to all employers with any turnover size if a newly recruited apprentice is aged 16-18.

All organisations

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.

The current minimum wage for an apprentice is £4.81 for people in the first year of their apprenticeship. After this apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage of National Living Wage rate for their age.

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

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.

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

20% Off-the-job Training

It is a requirement of the government that over the course of the apprenticeship that apprentice spend at least 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.

As you would expect, an apprentice’s off-the-job training will include learning resources and activities provided and delivered by JGA, but it can also include learning opportunities that happen 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.

As part of the apprentice’s monthly reviews, we will advise and guide them through how to log this training. We will also help them understand what is, and isn’t, classed as off the job training. We will help them map their training to their apprenticeship standard, ensuring that everything they do is counted towards their qualification.

We log this activity in an online portfolio system called OneFile. This shows the apprentice how many hours they have completed, and how many are remaining in order to hit their 20% minimum target.

Functional Skills

In order to pass an apprenticeship, apprentices must have achieved at least a pass – either a grade C or grade 4 – in English and Maths 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. They must achieve these qualifications before the end of the apprenticeship otherwise they can’t pass.

Other reasons that employees 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 ESFA

To help apprentices pass these qualifications, we hold 10 sessions of 1 hour 30 minutes with them. These are all delivered remotely, but must take place during normal working hours. These sessions are tailored to meet individual needs, and we have a specialist functional skills tutor who provides ongoing support.

KSBs

KSBs are knowledge, skills, and behaviours. All apprenticeship standards have them, and they are what your apprentice is assessed against. They need to demonstrate all of them throughout their training and in the workplace in order to achieve their qualification.

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 all of the standard’s KSBs in their job role in order for an apprenticeship to be successful.

Skillscans (and prior learning)

Before any learner starts on an apprenticeship programme we undertake a check of their current knowledge in the subject area. We call this a Skillscan.

All apprentices complete these self-assessments so that we can check they are going to study at the right level for their experience. It also helps us establish the apprentice’s starting point so that we can be aware of any additional help they may need as they are studying.

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.

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 to be submitted to End-Point Assessment.

At this point we hand them over to the appropriate End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO). The EPAO has the job of assessing the level the apprentice is working at and assigns them a grade of fail, pass, merit, or distinction.

Learners can be assessed in a variety of ways. The most common include:

  • a multiple choice exam
  • a professional discussion with the examiners
  • delivering a presentation
  • completing and documenting a real project in the workplace
  • submitting a portfolio of work

Apprenticeships can be assessed in several ways. It is not unusual for an apprentice to need to complete multiple assessment methods to gain their final grade. This could include an exam, followed up by a work-based project, and ending with a professional discussion about what they have learned during their project.

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. We also hold mock interviews to check whether an apprentice is ready before we submit them for End-Point Assessment.

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. These are submitted to the ePortfolio system OneFile and marked by tutors before being returned.

Learners will have monthly meetings with their designated skills coach. These will work one-on-one with the learner to develop their skills in their chosen career path. One of the skills coach’s main responsibilities is to prepare the learner for End-Point Assessment and notify the EPAO when they are ready to be submitted.

Once a quarter the apprentice’s line manager will also be invited to attend a quarterly review with the apprentice and the skills coach. This is a chance to keep everyone up to date with the apprentice’s progress towards their End-Point Assessment and address any issues or concerns there may be.

Workplace Training Plan

At the start of an apprenticeship all learners will complete a workplace training plan. This document is unique to each apprentice and includes information on how they will make progress towards the KSBs in the workplace. These can include:

  • 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 training 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, which are checked at each meeting.