What is an Apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships refer to on-the-job training leading to nationally-recognised qualifications, developed by industry. The National Apprenticeship Service supports, funds and co-ordinates the delivery of Apprenticeships throughout England.

How long does an Apprenticeship take?
The length of an Apprenticeship varies depending on prior skill levels of the apprentice, the qualification being obtained and industry sector. Generally, Apprenticeships take between 1 and 4 years to complete.

What is the difference between Apprenticeships and Modern Apprenticeships?
Modern Apprenticeships were re-branded in 2004 to ‘Apprenticeships’, they are the same thing.

Is there an upper age limit for Apprenticeships?

Is anything being done to help SMEs take on an Apprentice?
The Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE) is available dependent on eligibility. The grant is currently worth £1,500 each for up to 10 Apprentices employed during 2013.

What if I can’t find an Apprenticeship for my sector?
So far, there are more than 250 different types of Apprenticeships available offering over 1,400 job roles – and more are being developed. They have all been developed with employers and Sector Skills Councils to ensure they meet the needs of employers. Apprenticeships are also available for a number of business support functions including business administration and finance. 

My business is struggling to make ends meet due to the recession. How is taking on an Apprentice going to help my businesses manage through it?
Even in difficult times like these, Apprenticeships are a vital way of improving the skills of staff and generating a committed and valuable workforce. When times are tough, competition for contracts is even tougher. That’s when a well-trained, extra pair of hands could make a real difference to your chances of success. Apprentices can also help you prepare your businesses for when the economy comes out of recession. By offering a flexible resource that can help your business grow, Apprentices can also give you a competitive advantage to exploit new business growth opportunities.

Do I receive any monetary incentives to take on an Apprentice?
The off-job training costs are subsidised in full, or in part, by the National Apprenticeship Service and you may be eligible for a grant of £1,500, click here for more information.

Why would I want to take on an Apprentice?
Because it is good for business. Skills shortages are still one of the biggest threats to UK business. Apprenticeships can help businesses across all industries by offering a route to harness fresh talent. If you have trained staff with the right skills for the job they can do a wider range of tasks and take on new responsibilities - this can help to reduce skill shortages, minimise staff turnover and workplace accidents, and increase productivity. Taking on an Apprentice is cost-effective because your people can learn while they’re on the job and the government contributes to the costs of learning.

What is the financial benefit to me?
There are clear financial benefits to employers and their investment in Apprenticeships is repaid many times over. A recent study by the University of Warwick Institute of Employment Research found that the costs of Apprenticeship training are recouped relatively quickly, and that where the investment is nurtured, the returns are significant. Another study by Sheffield University measured the long-term financial benefit to investing in Apprenticeships. A Level 3 Advanced Apprentice will generate an additional lifetime benefit to themselves and their employer of £105,000 compared to someone who does not gain an Apprenticeship. The Level 2 additional benefit is £73,000. This represents a gain of £16 for every £1 of taxpayers’ money.

Which Apprenticeships are most in demand?
Some of the most popular Apprenticeships at present are: Engineering, Business Administration, Construction and Hospitality.

How are Apprenticeships frameworks developed?
An Apprenticeship is essentially a set of qualifications called a ‘framework’. These are developed by Sector Skills Councils. Sector Skills Councils are licensed by government to work with employers to develop National Occupational Standards and design Apprenticeship frameworks for the industries they represent.

What types of Apprenticeships are there?
Please see ‘Apprenticeships Browse Subjects’ page to find out about the Apprenticeships Swindon College offers.

So what support can I expect from the National Apprenticeship Service?
The National Apprenticeship Service covers the training of apprentices depending on their age. 

Costs and Funding 
The government provides the funds to cover the full cost of the mandatory training required to complete the framework as determined by the relevant SSC for a young person aged 16-18 on an Apprenticeship. If employers or providers choose to deliver additional qualifications or courses as part of the delivery of the overall framework then these courses will not be funded and will need to be paid for by the provider or employer. Swindon College also supports employers through the process of recruiting and training an Apprentice.

Is there a cost for employers? 
Like all employees, Apprentices must still receive a wage. The National Minimum Wage for Apprentices is £2.73 per hour. However, as skills develop, many employers tend to increase wages – in fact, research has found that Apprentices earn an average of £170 net pay per week. Click here for further advice on the National Minimum Wage Rates.
There is also the cost of the supervision, support and mentoring that you will need to put in place to support the Apprentice. In addition there are some fees employers need to pay when they take on a 19+ apprentice.

I have an employee keen to do an Apprenticeship. Can I still take them on as an Apprentice? 

Are Apprentices eligible for maternity leave? 
Yes. Like all employees, apprentices are entitled to statutory Maternity Leave of 52 weeks with statutory Maternity Pay for up to 39 weeks.

What is a Framework? 
There are a number of elements to each Apprenticeship and this is called the Framework. This means you will get a range of qualifications as you progress through your training and education.

Each Apprenticeship framework has three main strands: 
  • A competence based element 
  • A technical element 
  • A skills element 

The three strands are sometimes accompanied by additional qualifications to give the most relevant skills and knowledge required for the job that you are employed in. 

What are my responsibilities as the employer? 
You must give your Apprentice an induction into their role and provide on-the-job training. As with all employees, you are also responsible for the wages of your Apprentice.

Do Apprentices take exams? 
Most assessments are carried out in the workplace but there may be a requirement to take some tests.

Do I have to give my Apprentice holidays? 
Like most other employees, apprentices must be given at least 20 days’ paid holiday per year as well as bank holidays.

Is there a limit to the number of Apprentices that an employer can take on?
No. They can take on as many as they need – and often in more than one framework. The employer will be responsible for giving the Apprentice an induction into their role as they provide on-the-job training.

Do Apprentices pay Tax and National Insurance? 
As is the case of all employees aged over 16, Apprentices must still pay Tax and National Insurance on their income.

What are transferable skills? 
Many different industry sectors share the same skill sets. These core skills are transferable across sectors and are built into the Apprenticeship to maximise flexibility and choice for employers and apprentices. They include:
  • Communication (mandatory)
  • Application of numbers (mandatory) 
  • ICT 
  • Working with others 
  • Improving own learning and performance 
  • Problem solving.

How often do Apprentices attend college or training sessions? 
This varies from programme to programme; some Apprenticeships can be completely delivered in the workplace, while some require day release at college a week, or a block release.

What’s the role of Swindon College? 
Swindon College is responsible for an Apprentice's off-the-job training. When you take on an Apprentice they will appoint a Training Coordinator who will work with you to make sure that the training is well planned. Once the Apprentice begins work, the Training Coordinator will follow their progress, ensure their qualification criteria are being met and deal with any issues that may arise