Written on: 8 November 2021
Written by: Frances Hardcastle
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Apprenticeships are a powerful tool to recruit and train skilled members of staff and bring a whole host of benefits to businesses and the rest of your team. This guide takes you through everything you need to know to hire an apprentice, from the costs and practicalities to choosing the right candidate.
An apprenticeship is a work-based training programme linked to a specific job role. There are many different levels of apprenticeship, ranging from Level 2 (entry level) to Level 7 (equivalent to a post-graduate degree).
Apprenticeship programmes follow what is known as an “Apprenticeship Standard.” This is a list of skills and technical knowledge that industry leaders have identified as being essential for the job role. There are nearly 600 Apprenticeship Standards to choose from.
An apprentice does a real job and makes a big contribution to the workplace. As part of their programme, they spend 20% of their time completing “off-the-job training” that delivers on the Knowledge, Skills, and Behaviours (KSBs) set out in their Apprenticeship Standard.
An apprenticeship leads to a recognised qualification, and typically last between 12 months and two years, but can go up to five years depending on which Level and Standard you choose.
Apprentices bring a wide range of benefits to an organisation. Apprenticeships have been shown to enhance productivity, boost staff morale, improve retention rates, increase diversity, and address skills shortages.
Apprentices can also make a strong impact on your bottom line: According to researchers, the average net benefit of an apprentice is worth £2,496 during their training period – and afterwards, you’ll have a fully-trained member of staff to continue adding value to your team.
An apprenticeship is an investment in skills and future leaders for your organisation. To hire an apprentice, you will need to budget for wages and other employment costs, along with the cost of training and assessments.
The cost of apprenticeship training can vary depending on the apprenticeship programme, the provider you choose, and the size of your organisation.
Apprenticeship training is worth up to £15,000, but for smaller businesses who do not pay into the Apprenticeship Levy, the government can fund 95% of training fees. This means you will only pay around £750 for training.
For larger organisations, the cost of training is deducted from your ringfenced Apprenticeship Levy fund.
The minimum wage for an apprentice is £4.30 per hour. This applies for apprentices aged under 19, or those 19+ during their first year of the apprenticeship.
Sticking to the minimum wage can save money on new hires and enable smaller organisations to invest in apprenticeships. However, if you can offer a higher wage, we would strongly recommend that you do so.
Higher wages tend to attract a wider range of talented candidates. Higher wages also help apprentices feel valued – by paying above the minimum wage, your apprentice is more likely to complete their apprenticeship and more likely to remain within your organisation afterwards.
Every apprenticeship provider works a little differently, but the main stages to recruit an apprentice are the same. To hire an apprentice, you will need to follow six key steps:
Think of an Apprenticeship Standard as the blueprint for building your ideal employee.
There are lots of different Apprenticeship Standards to choose from, covering everything from IT Support Technicians to Butchers, Data Analysts, Florists, and Software Developers.
In every industry, there may be several Standards to choose from. For example, a Marketing apprenticeship could align with many different Apprenticeship Standards, including Digital Marketer, Marketing Assistant, Market Research Executive, Marketing Executive, or Junior Content Producer.
You can explore Apprenticeship Standards by browsing the catalogue from the Institute for Apprenticeships.
It is a good idea to make a shortlist of Standards while you scope out training providers and narrow down your job description to get the right fit for your business.
Apprenticeship training providers come in all shapes and sizes, from local colleges offering a broad selection of programmes, to industry specialists who focus on a particular sector. For example, at Baltic, we specialise in Digital and IT apprenticeships.
You can find a list of training providers who deliver the Apprenticeship Standard you are looking for via the Government’s Find Apprentice Training webpage.
There are many different factors to consider when choosing an apprenticeship training provider. Here are some questions you may want to ask when making your decision:
A good training provider will be happy to talk you through their programmes and offer guidance around matching an apprenticeship programme to your organisation and individual circumstances. They will usually have detailed resources, including a programme outline where you can find out more about each course.
Your apprentice will need an official job description setting out their role and responsibilities, just like any other employee. The job description will also need to line up with the Apprenticeship Standard, to ensure that your learner can develop the skills they need to succeed on the programme.
Many training providers produce what is known as a Workplace Curriculum. This pulls out the knowledge, skills, and behaviours from the Apprenticeship Standard and maps them onto everyday tasks and responsibilities. This is a great place to start when creating a job description for an apprentice.
You may also want to consider some additional points that can provide candidates with the information they’ll need to see if your apprenticeship might be right for them. This could include:
Once you have chosen a training provider and agreed a job description, it’s time to attract some candidates! Many training providers will handle this part of the recruitment process for you, advertising your opportunity on the National Apprenticeship Service and other online jobs boards on your behalf.
You can also share the apprenticeship vacancy on your own website and social media channels if you wish – this can be a great way to spread the word.
Your apprenticeship training provider will usually create a shortlist of great candidates who might be a good fit. Now is your chance to meet them! Interviewing an apprentice is slightly different to interviewing for other job roles – it’s all about potential.
Typically, an apprentice will not have years of work experience to draw on. Instead, look for passion and enthusiasm and use your interview time to identify whether their attitude and career goals line up with your organisation.
When it comes to making a decision on an apprenticeship candidate, it’s important to consider your short and long-term goals.
In the short term, what will each candidate bring to your organisation? With the right support in place, will this candidate be able to start learning the ropes and add to the team?
More importantly, is this someone with the potential to grow and develop as part of your organisation in the long run? Do they have a passion for the industry and a drive to learn more? If the answer is yes, you’ve just found your next apprentice!
Before you can get your new apprentice inducted onto their programme, you will need to register them on the Digital Apprenticeship Service.
The apprenticeship service, also known as a DAS account, is an online platform operated by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). It is used by employers to reserve and manage funding for apprentices.
It can be useful to create this account early on, around the time you have made an offer, to prevent delays to your apprentice’s start date.
We hope this guide has been useful as you start your journey with apprenticeships. If you’re looking to grow your digital and IT teams with apprenticeships, we’d be happy to help. Browse our programmes, or get in touch with our friendly team.