Employing an apprentice

More than 100,000 employers in over 160,000 workplaces, currently utilise apprenticeships to attract new talent, re-skill existing staff and tackle skills shortages. Apprenticeships are available to organisations of all sizes. Employment is a fundamental part of an apprenticeship as an apprentice must be employed in a job role with a productive purpose.

What are the benefits? Employing an apprentice can:

  • Increase productivity – Apprenticeships deliver real returns for your business by increasing productivity. Appointing an apprentice is more cost effective than hiring skilled staff, leading to lower overall training and recruitment costs.
  • Keep your workforce motivated – Apprentices tend to be motivated, flexible, and loyal to the company that has provided them with the apprenticeship opportunity. An apprentice is with you because they want to be. They have made an active choice to learn on the job and commit to a specific career.
  • Fill your skills gaps – Apprenticeships deliver skills designed around your business needs and provide the skilled workforce you need for the future. Apprenticeships also help you develop the specialist skills your staff required to help your business keep pace with the latest working practices in your sector.

What are Apprenticeships?

These are work-based training programmes designed around the needs of your business, leading to nationally recognised qualifications for the individual. You can use Apprenticeships to train both new and existing employees.

An Apprenticeship Standard will state the component parts of the programme, which usually include the Knowledge, Skills and Behaviour for that occupational role.

Entry requirements can vary for different apprenticeships e.g., to undertake the Nurse Associate Apprenticeships, the NMC (Nursing & Midwifery Council) stipulate selection, admission, and progression requirements for entry to approved nursing associate programmes.

However, the most important aspect to consider is that it is essential that you have a role for your apprentice to fulfil, you will be responsible for paying the salary for this candidate which, at the end of the apprenticeship can be offered as a substantive post, building your workforce for the future.

Anyone over the age of 16, who is not in full time education, can apply to be an apprentice.

Apprenticeships enable employers to select the most relevant apprenticeship for the requirements of the job role, therefore providing a clearly defined progression pathway.

Once the Apprentice has reached the end of their apprenticeship programme, another organisation (separate from the Training Provider organisation) called the End Point Assessment Organisation, will assess the apprentice, usually using two tests and they will provide a final grade.

An Apprenticeship Agreement which includes details of the occupation, trade or skill the apprentice is being trained for, the name of the apprenticeship that they are working towards, the start and end dates, and the amount of training that they will receive, must be signed by the Apprentice.

A commitment statement must be in place from the beginning of the apprenticeship, setting out the training content an apprentice will receive, and which elements count towards the off-the-job training. The apprentice’s evidence pack needs to demonstrate what training has been delivered against the commitment statement.

Where does apprenticeship training take place?

A modern-day apprenticeship requires only 20% off the job training meaning equates to, on average only one day a week is spent training. The other four days are spent working in your business.

There are different models of delivery in relation to meeting this 20% (depending on the occupationally area) it is therefore always advised to discuss this delivery model, with your chosen Training Provider, at the start of any apprenticeship.

Please note that anyone can start an apprenticeship, at any point in their life, whatever their age, background, or career level.

Myth busting

“My apprentice will spend a lot of time away from the workplace”

Off-the-Job training must teach new knowledge, skills, and behaviour relevant to the specific apprenticeship.  However, it can be delivered flexibly, e.g., as part of each day, one day per week, one week out of five or block release.  There may be existing training programmes or materials the organisation can use to deliver elements of this.

“Off-the-job training must be delivered by a provider in a classroom, at an external location”

This is not true.  Providers have developed a range of delivery styles to suit employer and apprentice needs. Employers work with providers to decide where and when this should take place.

“English and maths counts towards the 20% requirement for off-the-job training”

This is not true: English and maths (at level 2 or below) does not count towards the 20% off-the-job training.  Apprenticeships are about developing occupational competency and they are designed on the basis that the apprentice already has the required level (level 2) of English and maths. Training for English and maths must be on top of the 20% off-the-job training requirement.

“Off-the-job training can be done in the apprentice’s own time”

An apprenticeship is a work-based programme so all off-the-job training must take place within the apprentice’s normal working hours*.  If planned off-the-job training is unable to take place, it must be rearranged. Apprentices may choose to spend additional time training outside paid hours, but this must not be required to complete the apprenticeship.

Different types of apprenticeships

Examples of different types of Apprenticeships can be found on the The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) website. Enter either the title of the Apprenticeship or the Standard Reference Number, e.g. ST0310 and you will find out more about this particular Standard.

If you are unsure of relevant apprenticeships for the role, then this website is really useful to identify relevant occupational group: Occupational Maps / Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

Further information on specific types of apprenticeships and related topics

T Levels:

T-Levels – HASO (

Functional Skills:

2022.05.20-National-FS-Employer-Guide-V2-1.pdf (

Information related to Primary and Social Care:

Apprenticeship Standard Series:

The Apprenticeship Standards Factsheets show the variety of apprenticeships available in occupations such as Nursing, Ambulance Services, Allied Health Professions, Radiography and Healthcare Science. Click on the below links to find out more about a particular area.

Resources – HASO (

Nursing Associates:

Become a nursing associate – Nursing Associates (

Nursing Associate –  Resource Pack

Nursing associates | Health Education England (

Interested in becoming a nursing associate? – Nursing Associates (

Why employ a nursing associate.pdf (

Are there different levels of apprenticeships?

Yes, there are many levels of Apprenticeship available and these are available for candidates aged 16 and over.

Intermediate (level 2) Level 2 is usually 12 – 18 months.

Advanced (level 3) Level 3 is usually 18 – 48 months

Higher (level 4, 5) Levels 4, 5 are usually 24+ months

Degree (level 6, 7) Levels 6, 7 are usually 24+ months


The apprenticeship levy was introduced in 2017 and paid by large employers with a pay bill of over £3 million (they pay 0.5% of their total annual pay bill).   Currently, only 2% of employers pay the apprenticeship levy, but this funding has helped directly support almost 50% of all apprenticeships in 2017/18.  Levy paying employers access their funds through the online apprenticeship service. The levy is there to fund apprenticeship training for all employers.  Any unspent levy funds are used to support existing apprentices to complete their training and to pay for apprenticeship training for smaller employers.

How can I access funding for apprenticeships?

There are three ways to access funding to pay for apprenticeship training, this funding does not cover salary costs – you will have to fund the apprentice’s salary. Setting up an ESFA Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS) account is the first step and guidance on this can be found at How to register and use the apprenticeship service as an employer – GOV.UK (

Funding and Levy – HASO (

1. Apprenticeship levy (The apprenticeship levy)

Employers with a pay bill over £3 million each year, pay the apprenticeship levy. Levy paying employers can spend their apprenticeship levy funding on apprenticeship training. 

2. Reserve government co-investment (Reserving apprenticeship funds – YouTube)

If you don’t pay the apprenticeship levy you can reserve funding, where the government pays 95% of the training costs and the employer pays the remaining 5%. If you have no funds remaining in your levy account, these will automatically become funded by the co-investment route, until funding is available again. However, there is another way to fund apprentices, via Levy transfers.

3. Levy transfers (Apprenticeship levy transfer options)

Levy paying employers can transfer some of their annual levy to other employers. These transfers cover 100% of the training costs of the apprenticeship (you still need to cover salary). If you are employed within an organisation within BSW, please contact the BSW Apprenticeship Lead for more information on Levy Transfers. More details on this funding route within BSW can be found below:

ESFA apprenticeship funding rules for employers

Apprenticeship funding rules – GOV.UK (

Levy transfer – SLA and structure V5.0 (Update Nov 2021)


Levy Transfer Application form (Updated Nov 2021)


Levy Transfer Q&A (updated November 2021)


Next steps

Step 1 – What is your workforce development need?

Identify the skills gaps of your workforce and vacancies, and their current qualification level, relating to their role. Consider any vacancies that could be a future apprentice role. Estimate how much salary funding you have to spend on apprenticeship roles.

Speak to your regional Training Hub contact* or your ICS Apprenticeship Lead*, to find out what is happening locally around apprenticeships.

Step 2 – Choose an apprenticeship:

First look on the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education website to look at the Occupational Maps / Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

Step 3 – Visit the Apprenticeship Standards page

Then, once you have identified an apprenticeship, which fits the occupational area: follow this link to The Apprenticeship Standards page

Step 4 – Talk with a training provider

Follow the links to ‘Find an Apprenticeship‘, and talk with a local training provider(s) who will offer the right apprenticeship qualification and assess your apprentice over the duration of their qualification or alternatively contact your ICS Apprenticeship Lead*, who can advise on procured providers within BSW.

3548-HEE-Apprenticeship-Procurement-Toolkit-v4-interactive-for-web.pdf (

Step 5 – Access funding

Either via the levy (if you have a wage bill over £3 million), reserve government co-investment or find a levy transfer, as described above.

Speak to your regional Training Hub contact* or your ICS Apprenticeship Lead*, to find out more about accessing Levy Transfer funding, if you are a non-levy paying employer.

Step 6 – Advertise a vacancy

You can work with your training provider to help with advertising and shortlisting. They can also help you identify existing employees, as well as recruit new apprentices.

Step 7 – Provide ongoing support for the apprentice

Including, helping new apprentices to adjust to the workplace and planning workload to provide the necessary opportunities to complete practical tasks in line with training goals.

Where can I find out more?

Toolkit – HASO ( This toolkit from Skills for Health is designed to support you through the process described above.

Taking on an apprentice: Apprentice wage rate increase – taking on an apprentice – HASO (

You can download a Primary and Social Care Information pack full of useful hints and tips to support you on your apprenticeship journey here.

Please email the BSW ICS Apprenticeship Lead* (Petra Freeman)

Or the BSW Training Hub*

Or you can contact individual partner organisations, within our local apprenticeship network.

Please also follow the links below to local and national websites.

Extra support, information, advice, and guidance within BSW:

The BSW Apprenticeship Network

The membership of this group includes Health, Social Care, Primary Care, Local Authorities and Charity Organisations, and local Hospices.

This is a collaborative network, formed to work across the footprint of BSW and avoid duplication of tasks, recognising necessaries economies of scale.

This ensures the availability of apprenticeships, using BSW wide contracts where appropriate, especially where they are barriers to uptake.

The network offers a joint procurement platform for all network members, offering greater negotiation power, when designing bespoke BSW specific apprenticeships. Working with a network of training providers, this informs quality assurance across programmes within our area.

The network supports system wide workforce development through the levy transfer process

The aim is to expand the number and breadth of apprenticeships offered, therefore developing apprenticeship pathways at all levels to provide career progression opportunities across BSW.

The network meets on the third Monday or Tuesday of every month.

For details of the next meeting dates, please contact BSW ICS Apprenticeship Lead* (Petra Freeman) on

The BSW Nurse Associate Steering Group

This is a separate group for organisations who either currently employ or who wish to employ a Nursing Associate.

The membership of this group includes Health, Social Care, Primary Care, Local Authorities and Charity Organisations, including local Hospices.

In addition to similar objectives, to the apprenticeship network:

The purpose of this group is to support and encourage collaborative working and shared learning among network members

To develop the placement capacity across employers and the creation of learning placement opportunities to support contrasting placements.

The network meets bimonthly.

For details of the next meeting dates, please contact BSW ICS Apprenticeship Lead* (Petra Freeman) on

Further information

Primary care links

Apprenticeships –

Social care and local authority links

About Us – Wiltshire Care Partnership

WS Care Skills > Home Page (

Apprenticeships | Jobs and careers | Bath & Northeast Somerset Council (

The apprenticeship family | Your options at 16 | Swindon Borough Council

Learning and Development blog – Virgin Care

Apprenticeship – Wiltshire Council

NHS links

Royal United Hospitals Bath | Work experience (

Apprenticeships – Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (

Apprentices (

Apprenticeships – Wiltshire Health and Care

National resources and website links

About Us – Amazing Apprenticeships

About / Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education


Home – HASO (

Apprenticeships (

Further education and skills: Apprenticeships – detailed information – GOV.UK

A guide to apprenticeships – GOV.UK (

NHS Apprenticeships – NHS Employers

Apprenticeships in health | Health Careers

Pay Apprenticeship Levy – GOV.UK

Levy Transfer Resources – HASO (

Examples of our staff within BSW, who have completed their apprenticeship(s):

Sharon – Level 5, Healthcare Assistant Practitioner Apprentice

“My manager has been very supportive and the support I get from my colleagues is brilliant.”