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What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a genuine job with an accompanying assessment and skills development programme. It is a way for individuals to earn while they learn, gaining valuable skills and knowledge in a specific job role. The apprentice gains this through a wide mix of learning in the workplace, formal off-the-job training and the opportunity to practise new skills in a real work environment. Apprenticeships benefit employers and individuals, and by boosting the skills of the workforce they help to improve economic productivity.

How do they work?

Apprentices must spend at least 6 hours per week of their time on off-the-job training. However, they may need more than this if, for example, they need training in English and maths. It is up to the employer and training provider to decide how the off-the-job training is delivered. It may include regular day release, block release and special training days or workshops. It must be directly relevant to the apprenticeship framework or standard and can be delivered at the apprentice’s normal place of work as long as it is not part of their normal working duties. It can cover practical training such as shadowing, mentoring, industry visits and attending competitions. On-the-job training helps an apprentice develop the specific skills for the workplace and they should be supported by a mentor. Once an apprentice completes their apprenticeship, they should be able to demonstrate that they can perform tasks confidently and completely to the standard set by industry.

Who are they for?

Individuals over the age of 16, spending at least 50% of their working hours in England over the duration of their apprenticeship and not already in full-time education.

Apprentices can be new recruits or existing employees, providing the apprenticeship is relevant to their job role, teaches them something new, and provides career progression.

Is there a cost to the employer?

Apprentices must receive a wage inline with NLW and NMW rates

The cost of training for 16-18-year-old apprentices is fully funded by the government. However, if the apprentice is 19 or over employers will use an Apprenticeship Levy or co-investment models to pay for the apprenticeship training. Apprentices must not be asked to contribute to this.

What are the benefits of taking on an apprentice, or upskilling existing employees?

Hiring an apprentice is a productive and effective way for any organisation to grow talent and develop a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce.

86% of employers said apprenticeships developed skills relevant to their organisation and 78% reported improved productivity. (

Other benefits that apprenticeships contribute to your organisation include:

  • 90% of apprentices stay on in their place of work after completing an apprenticeship
  • there’s a wide selection of apprenticeships available, covering lots of different job roles
  • you can adapt the training your apprentice receives according to the needs of your organisation
  • an apprenticeship allows you to diversify and freshen up your workforce
  • you can employ an apprentice who’s aged 16 up to any age and from any background

How long are apprenticeships?

Depending on the level and apprenticeship, duration varies. The minimum term is 12 months. For further guidance on duration of apprenticeship at Northeastern University London, please speak to a member of the team.

What is the Digital Apprenticeship Service?

The Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS) is designed to help employers’ access new apprenticeship standards, training providers and funding for apprenticeships through an online service account. You can spend your apprenticeship levy on training from a government approved training provider and can use it to train new AND existing employees.

The DAS puts employers in control and allows you to access funding for apprenticeship training. It also allows you to choose the type of apprenticeships you want to run, the number of apprenticeships you take on, and the training provider that suits your needs.

What you can buy with funds in your apprenticeship service account

You can only use funds in your account to pay for apprenticeship training and assessment for apprentices that work at least 50% of the time in England, and only up to the funding band maximum for that apprenticeship.

If the costs of training and assessment go over the funding band maximum, you will need to pay the difference with other funds from your own budget.

You can’t use funds in your account to pay for other costs associated with your apprentices (such as wages, statutory licences to practise, travel and subsidiary costs, work placement programmes or the setting up of an apprenticeship programme).

Read the apprenticeship funding rules for full details of what you can and can’t pay for with funds from your apprenticeship service account.

What are my responsibilities as an employer?

There must be a genuine job available with a contract of employment long enough for an apprentice to complete their apprenticeship. Employers must pay an apprentice’s wages and the role must help them gain the knowledge, skills and behaviour they need to achieve the apprenticeship with support from the employer.