Apprenticeships – What you need to know

What is an Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is first and foremost a job and comes with substantial training and the development of transferable skills, offering a uniquely valuable opportunity to gain in-work experience, develop industry specific skills and achieve a recognised qualification.


Apprentices receive the majority of their training in the work environment whilst being supported by a training provider to achieve qualifications. There are four levels of apprenticeship available: Intermediate, Advanced, Higher or Degree, and can take between one and four years to complete.


Who are Apprenticeships for?

Apprenticeships are for ambitious people of all ages and abilities who want to earn while they learn, gaining real skills and knowledge. (Minimum age 16, no upper age limit)


Apprenticeships can be used to recruit new staff to roles or from existing employees who may be moving into a new or changed job role and need to learn new skills.


Why should you recruit an Apprentice?

Apprenticeships bring a huge number of tangible benefits and is an effective and cost efficient way of succession planning and developing the workforce, but it is important that it is not seen as a cheap way of bringing in labour.


Some of the key benefits include;


  • The opportunity to attract new talent, offer progression and develop a motivated, loyal, enthusiastic, skilled and qualified workforce with a fresh perspective.
  • Helps to strengthen and diversify our workforce providing a future talent pipeline tailored to our business needs.
  • Apprenticeships can help us to reduce training and recruitment costs and improve retention
  • Enable us to carry out effective and informed succession planning
  • Contributing to our corporate social responsibilities
  • Provide leadership opportunities for existing staff
  • Improve team motivation and morale


How is an Apprenticeship different from any other post?

The expectations on the recruited person are no different to any other employee. We expect them to fulfil the duties of the role, perform effectively and behave in ways that are concurrent with the organisational polices and Trust Values.


Supporting an Apprentice

When you recruit an apprentice you are making a commitment to support completion of their training. You must ensure that their learning time is protected and make adequate provision to cover absences within your team without compromising the learning of the individual. For example not allowing the apprentice to attend college on their agreed training day because of staff shortage is not acceptable; provision should be made to manage this situation in an alternative way.


How much do we pay an apprentice?

An apprentice who joins the Trust currently, irrespective of age is paid the Minimum National Apprenticeship Wage (currently £3.30 per hour).


In the second year the amount will remain the same if under 19. If they are over the age of 19 the amount must be at the National Minimum Wage set for that age group.


If the apprentice is an existing member of staff they will continue to be paid on their current rate and will not drop down to the National Apprenticeship Wage.


Full information about the National minimum wage rates can be found at GOV.UK


What is the Apprenticeship Levy and how will it affect us?

In spring 2017 the way the government funds apprenticeships in England is changing. The Government is introducing an apprenticeship levy on 6 April 2017. The levy requires all employers operating in the UK, with a pay bill over £3 million each year, to invest in apprenticeships. The levy will be 0.5% of our pay bill and will be paid through our PAYE. The Levy can only be used for apprentices training.


To find out more about the Levy please click here for the Apprenticeship Levy Factsheet.


Apprenticeship Standards

Apprenticeship standards have now been published for a range of roles that are relevant to our Trust, including healthcare science assistants, healthcare support workers, and assistant practitioners, business and administration, procurement and hospitality to name just a few. New standards are being worked on all the time so there will most likely be one that suits your business needs for your department. For the most up to date list of standards please visit:


Think Future, Think Apprenticeship

It is an exciting time ahead of us. Employer-led apprenticeship reforms are improving the quality of apprenticeships, providing the skills that employers need to secure a talented workforce for the future. Higher and degree apprenticeships are providing higher level technical skills and are seen as a beneficial alternative to university, for example, a degree-level nursing apprenticeship standard has been approved which employers can offer to new or existing staff from September 2017.


Opening up employment opportunities for young people is of particular benefit, given the ageing NHS workforce and concerns around certain skill shortages. Widening the pool of people employed within the NHS also links to the Equality and Diversity and Widening Participation agendas.


Click here for the NHS employers Apprenticeship Guide.