Employer Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Apprenticeship?

Apprentices are aged 16 or over and combine working with studying to gain skills and knowledge in a specific job.

The term ‘Apprenticeship’ refers to on-the-job training which typically leads to nationally recognised qualifications, developed by industry. The National Apprenticeship Service supports, funds and co-ordinates the delivery of Apprenticeships throughout England.

Your apprentice will work as an employee of the company, often spending one day in College. They will complete all the tasks as their job role demands and is within their skill level.

What is the length of an apprenticeship?

The length of an apprenticeship depends on the course they are doing and the level of that course. This can range from 12 to 42 months. Apprentices must be employed for the full duration of their training, but they are able to start employment before their programme begins and stay on at the company should you so wish, on completion.

The term ‘Apprenticeship’ refers to on-the-job training which typically leads to nationally recognised qualifications, developed by industry. The National Apprenticeship Service supports, funds and co-ordinates the delivery of Apprenticeships throughout England.

Your apprentice will work as an employee of the company, often spending one day in College. They will complete all the tasks as their job role demands and is within their skill level.

Is there an age limit for Apprenticeships?

There is no upper age limit for apprenticeships, anyone over the age of 16 can start the course.

I have an employee who would like to do an apprenticeship. Can I still take them on as an apprentice?

Apprenticeships are not just for school leavers anymore! If you have an employee that wants to develop your skills they can absolutely start an apprenticeship. This is an excellent way to fill a skills gap and promote staff development. You will need to be willing to release them for one day a week so that they can attend their College course.

How long should an apprentice work?

The average apprentice will work a 37.5 hour week, made up of four days at work and one day at College. Apprentices must be paid for their day in College.

The minimum number of hours an apprentice must work is 30 hours per week, unless there are extenuating circumstances.

Are there grants available to my business if I take on an apprentice?

If you take on an apprentice who is aged 16-18 then there is a £1000 grant from the Government that you can apply for.

If you a company based within the Construction Industry (excluding plumbers and electricians) then you may be able to claim Apprenticeship grants through the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

How are Apprenticeships funded?

If your organisation employs less than 50 staff, for apprentices aged between 16-18 years old, the training fees will be fully-funded.

If you were to employ an apprentice aged 19 years or older, the government asks that you contribute 5% of their course fees, which may be as little as £100, and they will fund the remaining 95%.

If you do employ more than 50 staff, you would need to pay the 5% contribution regardless of the apprentice’s age.

How much do I have to pay an apprentice?

The minimum rate of pay for apprentices during their first 12 months of training, regardless of their age is £3.90 per hour.

After 12 months of training, the national minimum wage would apply to those aged 19 and above.

We would encourage you to pay more if possible to increase your chances of attracting the best quality candidates, and to compete with other roles that may be advertised at the same time.

How much annual leave is an Apprentice entitled to?

All Apprentices are entitled to statutory paid leave – 20 days plus 8 bank holidays. Depending on your annual leave policy you may give them more.

Are apprentices eligible for maternity leave?

Yes. Like all employees apprentices are entitled to Statutory Maternity Leave of 52 weeks with Statutory Maternity Pay for up to 39 weeks.

Do I have to pay into a pension scheme for an apprentice?

Your apprentice’s contract will lie with your company and therefore they are considered an employee. Therefore, the pension regulations will be the same as for your other employees.

As apprentices tend to fall into certain eligibility brackets, we would like to draw your attention to the following:

You must automatically enrol your apprentice into a pension scheme and make contributions to your pension if they are aged between 22 and State Pension age and earn at least £10,000 per year.

If they are aged 16 to 21 or earn less than £10,000, but above £6,136 (for the tax year 2019-20), you do not have to automatically enrol your apprentice in the scheme. However, they can still ask to join, in which case you can’t refuse and must make contributions.

Can apprentices take leave/holidays in term time?

Yes. We understand students are also employees and so will often take holidays that fall within term time, and that fall on College days. This is absolutely fine, we just ask that they email the person taking the course to let them know in advance and make sure they catch up on any work they have missed.

How often do apprentices attend college or training sessions?

Apprentices will usually attend college for day release one day a week, excluding term breaks. However, this can differ depending on the apprenticeship programme.

Do apprentices take exams?

Apprentices are assessed against criteria throughout their programme to ensure they are developing the required competencies.

Throughout their programme apprentices will be tasked with keeping an online log of their learning. This log is in a diary format, where students can keep track of the 20% off-the-job training requirement and evidence new skills and knowledge. At the end of the programme the apprentice will complete an End Point Assessment which is the final part of their apprenticeship. An End Point Assessment can involve;

  • A multiple choice online test
  • Professional discussion, either face-to-face or via Skype
  • Workplace observation

What counts towards off-the-job training?

The off-the-job-training can include anything from shadowing a colleague, attending a conference, through to the hours spent in College. Ultimately, it is time that the apprentice has spent not fulfilling their day-to-day duties, and learning something new or building their skills and knowledge. Hours spent fulfilling this requirement during the working day or for business purposes outside of office hours can be included, however, time outside of this, taken on an apprentices own initiative, sadly does not count.

For example, if the apprentice were to read a book over the weekend that related to their course this could not be logged, however, if they have stayed on late to complete an evening course, this is applicable.

N.B Functional Skills or Maths and English cannot be considered off the job training.

What support am I expected to provide an apprentice?

As the employer, you are expected to provide your apprentice with an induction into the workplace and necessary mentoring/supervising in order for them to adequately fulfil their role.

An Exeter College Skills Officer will also set the apprentice tasks to complete in the workplace and carry out regular reviews approximately every 8-10 weeks. The Skills Officer is also your main point of contact for any queries you may have along the way.

You will release your apprentice one day a week to the College during term time (subject to their course). When the college is closed, the apprentice should be allocated study time (which equates to approx. 6 hours per week) and you will receive guidance for how best to facilitate this during your regular Skills Officer reviews.

How do I recruit an apprentice?

Our team of recruitment experts are here to help you, as much or as little as you require. We are able to help with matching a job description to a qualification, vacancy advertising, application review, eligibility checks, interview support, and inductions.

All apprenticeship vacancies will be listed on the National Apprenticeship Service site, Indeed and our Exeter College website. We can also promote your role via our social media platforms and via internal communications to our current full-time students, who are looking for their next step. Before we post anything, we will send you a draft of your vacancy advert to review and, once approved, it can go live within 24 hours. You can also be provided with a link to your vacancy, if you wish to share on your own website and social media.

Do I have to keep an apprentice on at the end of their course?

No, you are under no obligation to employ an apprentice after their apprenticeship has finished. However, as your company has invested in an individual’s training and development to suit your business, ideally you should want to offer your apprentice a permanent position.