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You’re hired! Apprenticeship guide for business

Contents What is an apprentice?..................................................3 How to apprenticeships work?......................................4 Why choose and apprentice?........................................6 Apprentices - a practical guide.....................................8 Formal NAS process....................................................10 Positives and potential negatives................................12 Things to remember.....................................................13 Apprenticeship checklist..............................................14 Case studies.................................................................15

➤➤ Written by David Joel with the support of the Business East Hants board ➤➤ Designed and produced by East Hampshire District Council ➤➤ Last modified April 2013 ➤➤ To contact Business East Hampshire about this guide, email:


You’re hired! Apprenticeship guide for business

What is an apprentice? Definition An apprentice is an employee following a programme of work based training leading to a nationally recognised qualification. Apprenticeships are open anyone over 16 years old and aimed at individuals who want to develop their prospects and build a career. They could have just left school or have been working for years and seeking to start a new career. An apprentice needs to live in England and not in full-time education. A business can use apprenticeships to train both new and existing employees.

Niall Thurston at Morgan Innovation and Technology

You’re hired! Apprenticeship guide for business


How do apprenticeships work? Apprenticeships come in 3 levels: ➤➤ Intermediate (Level 2 – equivalent to 5 GCSEs) Apprentices work towards work-based learning qualifications such as a Level 2 competence-based qualification, functional skills and – in most cases – a relevant knowledge-based qualification. ➤➤ Advanced (Level 3 – equivalent to 2 A Levels) Apprentices work towards work-based learning such as a Level 3 competence based qualification, functional skills and - in most cases - a relevant knowledge-based qualification. The advanced apprenticeship includes NVQ level 3, Key Skills and usually a BTEC. ➤➤ Higher (Level 4 and 5 – equivalent to a HNC, HND or Foundation Learning Degree) Apprentices undertake a framework at Level 4 and above which will include a competence-based qualification, functional skills and in some cases a broader vocationally related qualification, which could be a foundation degree. Depending on the sector level and job role, an apprenticeship can take anything between one and four years to complete. This represents an investment in time and cost for the business.

Other apprenticeship routes ➤➤ Pre-apprenticeship training Prepares young people for apprenticeships and vocational studies. ➤➤ The Young Apprenticeship Programme The programme enabling 14-16 year olds to work one or two days a week for a local employer whilst still studying at school or college, in order to gain a nationally recognised vocational qualifications. ➤➤ Apprenticeship for Adults An accelerated Apprenticeship for over 25s due to the range of skills and experiences already gained. 4

You’re hired! Apprenticeship guide for business

Delivery As apprenticeships are work-based training programmes, most of the training is ‘on the job’ – at your premises. The rest can be provided by a college or by a specialist learning/training provider. On the job training delivered by ➤➤ line manager ➤➤ peer employee ➤➤ training provider ➤➤ trainer/ assessor Job knowledge element delivered by a training provider ➤➤ at the employer’s premises (on-site) ➤➤ in a ‘classroom’ environment ➤➤ at the provider’s premises

Training models – depends on knowledge and skills to be developed ➤➤ Day release ➤➤ Block release ➤➤ Workplace

Funding for apprenticeships Limited funding is available to train apprentices. The Skills Funding Agency, through the National Apprenticeship Service provides a 100% contribution towards training costs for 16-18 year olds, upto 50% for 19-24 year olds and the 25 years old or over only get a contribution depending on the sector in which the business or organisation operates (subject to eligibility). For more information please visit:

You’re hired! Apprenticeship guide for business


Why choose an apprentice? The key to choosing whether to take an apprentice on is to understand why the business needs one. Common reasons for choosing an apprentice include:

Business vision, strategy and skills alignment Part of the broader vision for an organisation may be to help develop the community in which it operates in order to contribute to its own future success. Apprenticeships may form part of a business’ plan to deliver its future vision and can help ensure that the business has the skills needed to achieve that vision.

Fill your skills gap Apprenticeships deliver skills designed around your business needs, providing the skilled workers you need for now and the future.

Financial – improve your bottom line Apprenticeships deliver real returns helping companies to improve productivity and competitiveness. Training apprentices can also be more cost effective than hiring skilled staff, leading to lower overall training and recruitment costs.

Employer/employee loyalty Apprentices tend to be eager, motivated, flexible and loyal to the company that invested in them. Remember, an apprentice is with you because they want to be – they have made the choice to learn on the job and a commitment to a specific career. This can in turn motivate other parts of the workforce as the company is demonstrating commitment to its - and their - future.


You’re hired! Apprenticeship guide for business

Risk mitigation Where skills are limited locally then a potential mitigation to a skills shortage may be to grow your own. Apprenticeships provide a means to do this in a controlled manner.

Corporate social responsibility Many companies and organisations like to be seen to be putting something back into the business community.

Dean Linegar, apprentice at AMK

You’re hired! Apprenticeship guide for business


Apprentices a practical guide A number of BEH members have taken on apprentices directly. The following are key considerations when taking on an apprentice.

Be clear why you want an apprentice ➤➤ What do you want them to do? ➤➤ Align business needs with apprentice requirements. ➤➤ Remember the recruitment of apprentices is not a short-term solution to business resourcing issues!

Consider ways to fund the apprenticeship post ➤➤ Private funding – company meets the costs ➤➤ Grants and other sources of funding available to businesses

Find appropriate training providers ➤➤ Engage with providers of the skills your apprentices will need. ➤➤ They can advise on costs and levels of subsidy for training your chosen programme may attract. ➤➤ Providers may not be local for the skills you require. ➤➤ Engage with the providers before you begin the recruitment process (failure to do so may limit your ability to get funding support from the NAS scheme)

Select your approach to apprentice recruitment ➤➤ National Apprentice Service route ( ➤➤ Direct route (open market) ➤➤ Other (e.g. independent apprentice provider such as PETA, Catch 22 etc)


You’re hired! Apprenticeship guide for business

Recruit your apprentice Establish how you are going to recruit (i.e. directly or through third parties such as colleges, apprenticeship providers, NAS or agencies)

Support your apprentice ➤➤ When you recruit your apprentice, remember that it is just the start of your journey together. ➤➤ A business needs to have processes and people in place that champion the apprentice commitment. This should include some form of training plan. ➤➤ The purpose of this support is: ➤➤ To ensure that the business gets the best from the apprentice. ➤➤ The apprentice feels the commitment of the business and knows his or her obligations. ➤➤ To motivate and inspire the apprentice. ➤➤ To liaise with the training provider. ➤➤ To monitor and record the apprentice’s on the job learning. ➤➤ A training plan can be as comprehensive as getting the apprentice to formally work in every area of the business and gaining sign off from each department once the apprentice completes an assignment. It could be as simple as having an apprentice supervisor who allocates the apprentices time and activities as required. ➤➤ Whoever is made responsible for the apprentice needs the following attributes: ➤➤ Time and a desire to do it ➤➤ Enthusiasm and commitment to the company ➤➤ Can be both a teacher and leader ➤➤ Inspirational and leads by example

You’re hired! Apprenticeship guide for business


Formal National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) process The NAS website describes the process of apprentice recruitment as very straight forward. However, the process does make many assumptions about the individual business’ approach to apprenticeships and also assumes that the business will work exclusively through the NAS route. The NAS process is outlined below along with Business East Hants (BEH) member’s experience Step

NAS Process

BEH Member Experience


A National Apprenticeship Service representative will call to discuss your specific needs.

This is a key step. Before talking to the NAS, be clear as to why you would like to follow the apprentice route.


We will help you identify a suitable training provider.

Depending on the type of business you are and the skills the business is trying to develop, the training providers may be local or may be much further afield. We recommend that the business does its own research on the location and suitability of potential training providers before engaging the NAS process.


You confirm the number of current employees and new recruits you want to start an apprenticeship.

This has to be based upon your plans for your business and needs to be thought out in advance.


You’re hired! Apprenticeship guide for business


NAS Process

BEH Member Experience


Start the recruitment process. Vacancies are advertised on Apprenticeship Vacancies on the NAS website, where suitable applicants can apply.

This is a possible route for recruiting but also any of your traditional methods may be employed for example: direct advertising, agencies, and relationships with local schools, skills fairs, colleges or good old fashioned word of mouth!


You choose your ideal candidates and then your apprentices start.

The step is described in a very simplistic way. Recruiting apprentices is the same process as recruiting any employee in your organisation. At the end of the process the potential apprentice will be required to sign an Apprenticeship Training Agreement

Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA)? Apprenticeship Training Agencies (ATAs) offer a unique approach to the recruitment of apprentices. The ATA model is intended to support the delivery of a high quality Apprenticeship programme with a focus on small employers who wish to use the services of an ATA to source, arrange and host their Apprenticeships. This could be for a number of reasons including them not being able to commit to the full framework, short term restrictions on employee numbers, or uncertainty about the value of an Apprenticeship. For more information on the NAS and Apprenticeship Training Agencies, go to

You’re hired! Apprenticeship guide for business


Positives and negatives The decision to take on an apprentice, like any business decision, has advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the positives and potential negatives of taking on an apprentice based on Business East Hants members’ experiences.

Positive ➤➤ Develop the skills that your business needs. ➤➤ Allows you to shape staff into what you want them to be (skills, values, culture). ➤➤ Alignment of skills and business strategy. ➤➤ Cost effective in the long term giving bottom line benefits in the future. ➤➤ Apprentices are productive whilst being trained. ➤➤ Engenders loyalty from the apprentice. ➤➤ Good for the business community. ➤➤ Demonstrates corporate responsibility. ➤➤ Allows the business to effectively try before you buy. ➤➤ Ultimately more efficient staff. ➤➤ Lower cost and risk than hiring off the street.

Negative ➤➤ It requires effort, it looks easier than it is ➤➤ It is not free (you pay the apprentice whist going through on-thejob training) ➤➤ Training providers for the skills you need may not be on your doorstep. ➤➤ Need to plan for an apprentice (process, mentor, coach). ➤➤ Long-term investment (with some short-term gains). ➤➤ The trained apprentice may leave at the end of their apprenticeship.


You’re hired! Apprenticeship guide for business

Things to remember An apprentice is not ➤➤ A means of getting lucrative government grants ➤➤ Cheap labour ➤➤ A short term fix to labour problems ➤➤ Exempt from employment law

The employer’s responsibilities The employer has some fundamental responsibilities: ➤➤ You must give your apprentices an induction into their role and provide on-the-job training. ➤➤ You are responsible for paying your apprentices’ wages. ➤➤ Employment must be for at least 30 hours per week, except in the minority of circumstances where the learner cannot complete the full 30 hours. In these cases employment must be for more than 16 hours per week. ➤➤ Since 6 April 2012, all apprentices must be employed under an Apprenticeship Training Agreement (see National Apprentice Service (NAS) website or training provider for details).

Recruiting an apprentice ➤➤ The NAS approach is not the only approach to taking on apprentices. A business may take the NAS route and explore the funding support options for apprentices. Alternatively, a business may elect to ignore the NAS approach and it’s associated funding. ➤➤ Businesses may proceed on their own or work with independent apprenticeship providers. There is no right way but all routes have points to consider.

You’re hired! Apprenticeship guide for business


Apprenticeship checklist Identify the skills requirements ➤➤ What work do you want the apprentice to do?

Develop a job description and person specification ➤➤ What kind of person are you looking for?

Contact training providers to identify suitable courses/programmes and costs Secure funding and other resource requirements Advertise your apprenticeship ➤➤ Open market ➤➤ Jobcentre Plus website ➤➤ The training provider advertises the post on the NAS website

Interview apprentices Sign Apprenticeship Agreement* Health and Safety ➤➤ For candidates age 18 or under, you will need to complete a risk assessment form for young people at work * To find out more about Apprenticeship Agreements, go to


You’re hired! Apprenticeship guide for business

Case studies

Morgan Innovation & Technology Ltd Specialists in research, design and manufacture of medical equipment. Currently employ 24 staff. Howard Clarke, Chairman and Research Director: “For us, the process was rather tortuous due to lack of information at the time. We were looking to recruit an A-level student and it took us a long time to identify an appropriate course and Training Provider (TP). However, we are now very happy with both our Apprentice and TP and we are getting a lot out of the scheme. We would therefore advise any company looking to take on an apprentice, especially at the highest level to not only have a full person specification but to have identified the course and the provider before starting the process.”

AMK Chauffeur Group One of the UK’s biggest independent mini-coach operators. Employ 240 staff. Graeme Fraser – Managing Director “There’s little more satisfying as an employer than to see your staff succeed on a professional and personal level. With an apprentice, you get the opportunity to help to develop a young persons’ confidence and skills from the very beginning. At AMK we have employed a number of apprentices over the years and, for a relatively small investment, we’re helping to ensure their future and the future of our business.” Dean Linegar – Master Technician NVQ Level 4 “I always wanted to be a mechanic, but after a year at college I decided that full-time education wasn’t for me. The apprenticeship scheme gave me the chance to earn money and gain experience whilst obtaining the skills and training needed to become a qualified technician. After finishing my apprenticeship, I was given the opportunity to continue my training and recently achieved an NVQ Level 4 to become a certified Master Technician.”

You’re hired! Apprenticeship guide for business


Key contacts Alliance of Sector Skills Councils ➤➤ 0845 072 5600 ➤➤

Alton College Old Odiham Road, Alton, Hampshire, GU34 2LX ➤➤ 01420 592200 ➤➤

Business East Hants Business Partnership Team, Economic Development Service, East Hampshire District Council Offices, Penns Place, Petersfield, GU31 4EX ➤➤ 01730 234165 ➤➤ ➤➤

East Hampshire District Council Penns Place, Petersfield, GU31 4EX ➤➤ 01730 266551 ➤➤

National Apprenticeship Service ➤➤ Telephone: 08000 150 600 ➤➤

Useful links: Training providers and courses - Recruitment/Employment agency -

You're Hired! Apprenticeship guide for business  

A guide to developed with local businesses to give you advice on taking on an apprentice.

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