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Apprenticeships – Frequently Asked Questions 

For Apprentices

If you’re having trouble finding the answers you’re looking for, then browse through our frequently asked questions for more information and help on Apprenticeships. If still in doubt just call us on 01202 123444 or email and we can help you. 

Frequently Asked Questions – General Questions:

Who can do an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship training is available to anyone over the age of 16 who is no longer in full time education. There is no upper age limit to starting an Apprenticeship. School leavers cannot start until after the last Friday in June of the academic year in which they have their 16th birthday. 

Apprenticeships are a great starting point, but also a good re-starting point if you are returning to work after a career break, or redundancy, or you have reached a point where you feel you need to retrain and your skills can be transferred to a different career.  The duration of an Apprenticeship depends on your current skill levels and the industry of the Apprenticeship. Generally, Apprenticeships take between one and four years to complete, dependent on the academic level of the qualification. See table 1 below. 

Apprentices can offer Apprenticeships to new entrants or use them to grow talent from among current employees. 

Duration and key details of the levels of Apprenticeship
Level of Apprenticeship  Equivalent to  Duration of training 
Intermediate – Level 2  Level 2 is GSE level and an intermediate Apprenticeship equals five GCSEs at A*, or 9  15 months to 18 months 
Advanced -Level 3  Level 3 is A level and an advanced Apprenticeship equals 2 A levels upon completion.  18 months to 2 years 
Higher – Level 4  Level 4 is the same level as a Foundation Degree  2 to 4 years 
Degree –Level 5, 6, 7  From Degree to Masters levels  Totally dependent upon the business area. 
What is an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are another way of gaining qualifications in a workplace. You get to earn as you learn and gain valuable work experience and skills. It is a genuine job with an accompanying assessment and skills development programme. The Apprentice gains this through a wide mix of learning in the workplace and off the job training. 

Do Apprentices have to be employed full time?

The minimum duration of 15 months is based on an Apprentice working at least 30 hours a week, including any off-the-job training they undertake. If the Apprentice works fewer than 30 hours a week, or where a part-time working pattern is needed, it can be agreed with the training provider to extend the Apprenticeship accordingly. This could happen with Teaching Assistant Apprentices, for example. However, in most circumstances, the normal working week will be 37.5 hours, worked as five consecutive days from Monday to Friday. These 37.5 hours, divided by the 5 working days, equates to a working day of 7.5 hours that must be worked between the hours of 7.00 am and 7.00 pm. 

What type of Apprenticeships are on offer?

There is a stereotype that Apprenticeships are only available in physical trades like construction or hairdressers, but Apprenticeships are now available in a wide range of sectors, from large national companies such as the NHS and Hitachi to smaller local companies. Over a wide number of training providers, you can choose to follow the Apprenticeship path in specific fields, from Health & Social Care to Team Leading and IT to Professional Cookery. The full list can be found here. 

Apprenticeship Training Available

Skills & Learning currently offer apprenticeship training for the following standards/roles:

  • Business Administrator
  • Customer Service Practitioner
  • Team Leader
  • Teaching Assistant
  • Early Years Educator

We are happy to consider developing training programmes for other apprenticeship standards/roles so please talk to us if you have something in mind. Please contact us on 01202 123444, or 

What qualifications do I need to enrol on an Apprenticeship?

This will depend on the industry and the requirements from the Employer. Skills & Learning offer training in English, maths and ICT alongside the qualification to comply with the Apprenticeship Standard requirements, including additional learning support if required and appropriate. 

What support does the Employer need to provide to an Apprentice?

The Apprenticeship process is combined in a three-way partnership where the Employer (line manager), Apprentice and training provider work together for success. As the Apprentice is a member of the workforce, they will follow the Employer’s normal HR policies and procedures and require access to their specific company induction and line management structures. They will be assigned to an Assessor, who will usually meet with them once a month during working hours, to review progress, coach and support the Apprentice and set new tasks for the month ahead, ensuring that they are making good progress against the required standards. It’s also important that the Apprentice receives regular feedback from their line manager, for them to improve and implement their skills effectively in the workplace.  

As part of the package of the Apprenticeship training, there will be a need for the Apprentice to have 20% off the job training and this must be recorded. This can be a mix of Training Provider activities and some Employer led. Commitment to this programme will form part of the agreement that is issued under the guidance of the Government funding rules. In practice, these guidelines are useful to ascertain what can be counted in this 20%. See Does this Count and Myth Busters.

Who pays for the training?

The Government or the Employer. The amount will depend on the level of the Apprenticeship, the age of the Apprentice and the size of the company.  

There is also an additional financial incentive for employers, with grants of £3000 per apprentice.

What is the wage rate for an Apprentice?

All Apprentices are employed and most will have a contract of employment for at least 30 hours per week. An Apprentice Wage Rate of £4.30 per hour applies to all Apprentices under 19 years of age and for those over 19 years who are in their first year of learning. Employers may pay above this rate at their discretion. 

Apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage for their age if they are aged 19 or over and have completed the first year of their Apprenticeship, as outlined below: The table below is provided as a guideline to outlines the minimum wages, below which Apprentices should not be paid.

Age From 1 April 2021 (current) Rate per hour
23 and over £8.91
21 to 22 £8.36
18 to 20 £6.56
Under 18 £4.62
Apprentice (all apprentices under age 19 AND any apprentice, regardless of age, in first year of apprenticeship) £4.30

How does an Apprenticeship compare to a degree?

Apprenticeships start at level 2 and go up to degree level (level 4-7) which means you can gain a fantastic qualification and lots of on-the-job experience but without a student loan or debt. Skills & Learning currently offer up to level 5.  

If I've got a university degree can I undertake an Apprenticeship?

Yes, you can do an Apprenticeship, as long as you are learning new skills, knowledge and behaviours. It can be at the same level as your university degree or even at a lower level if you can prove this is the case.  

Will my Employer cover my travel expenses?

This is to be agreed between you and the Employer, but usually travel costs will not be provided as they pay you a wage. 

When, where and how will I be paid?

Paydays are generally related to the administrative day of the week, or more likely month that your Employer has chosen. Your Employer will pay your money straight into your bank account. Each time you are paid, you will receive a payslip explaining how your pay has been calculated, or as many Employers are using paperless systems, you will be able to see this on your Employer’s version of the HR  database. Your tax deductions will also show on this, as you are earning over the tax threshold, a certain percentage will be taken through the Pay as You Earn system, (PAYE). This tax goes to the Government. 

The Employer is only allowed to make deductions from the salary for income tax and National Insurance contributions with prior consent. However, where relevant (e.g. pension plans, tool purchase, laundry schemes, etc.), as an Apprentice, you may authorise Employers to make other deductions from your wages, as required. 

What if I am sick?

If you become ill or suffer an injury during your Apprenticeship, and are unable to work, you must let your Employer and Training Provider, (the Tutor Assessor) know immediately. If you are unable to ring your Employer, you should get parents, a relative or a friend to do it for you as soon as possible. Any payment for sickness will be subject to the Employer’s policy. 

What about holiday and paid leave?

Like all employees, you will be given at least 20 days paid holiday, plus time off for bank holidays, each year. The exact details will be written into the contract of employment and training agreement. You may also be able to take some time off for study leave, on top of the usual paid leave. 

Do I have to pay anything to become an Apprentice?

No. Your Employer pays you a salary and supports you during your training. The National Apprenticeship Service will pay for the costs of your training depending on your age. 

What if I have additional needs?

This isn’t a problem, just let us know in advance of the initial assessment and we will get a support assistant to assist you as appropriate and allow extra time if that is something you have had before. We will do our best to ensure that the assessments are fair, authentic and realistic. We have the structure in place to ensure that if you put the work in, you will succeed. 

What is in it for me?
  • Getting paid while you learn 
  • Gain skills and knowledge to help you achieve your qualifications faster 
  • You learn at your own pace 
  • You receive support and mentoring 
  • It can set you up in a job or help you move onto better positions 
Are you an apprentice that has been affected by redundancy?

The Redundancy Support Service for apprentices provides advice, guidance and access to a range of support services for apprentices affected by redundancy. If you are an apprentice who has been affected or know someone who has then get in touch with our Business Outreach Officers to see how we can help.

Teresa Barton – Business Outreach Officer:

Julia Markus – Business Outreach Officer: 

The Education Skills Funding Agency has released a short video to help explain the support that is available here.