Frequently Asked Questions for Employers
Are you an employer looking for apprenticeship information and guidance? Stockport College has developed considerable apprenticeship knowledge after developing as a leading training provider in Greater Manchester.
We have brought together common queries about every aspect of apprenticeships. From funding and recruitment to compliance and retention rates, find the answers to your apprenticeship questions below. If you have any more questions use our Call Back request form at the bottom of this page.
Benefits of apprenticeships
Are apprenticeships a good return on investment?
An investment in apprenticeships is an investment in your staff team.
Research published by the Department of Education found 97% of employers reported at least one major business benefit from apprenticeships. 86% of employers highlighted the benefit of developing relevant skills in their team, whilst 78% reported an improvement in productivity because of apprenticeships.
Measuring the impact of apprenticeships
There has been research into the financial benefits of apprenticeships, considering the increase in productivity against wage and training costs. A recent report found that young hospitality apprentices provided an average net annual benefit of £2,380 to their employer whilst still in training. The same report says the rise in productivity of apprentices benefited the hospitality sector by more than £40 million.
Improving apprenticeship return on investment
Aligning apprenticeship programmes with key business aims is a way of both focusing and measuring the impact of apprenticeships on your business. Alongside this there are financial incentives to minimise training costs and therefore improve return on investment.
Employers will receive a £1,000 government incentive for young apprentices aged 16 to 18, which further offsets the cost of training. Companies with less than 50 employees can get training fully funded for young apprentices aged 16 to 18 and will still receive the £1,000 incentive.
Plus, employers can save up to £691 a year through no employer National Insurance contributions for 16 to 24-year-old apprentices.
What are the benefits of apprenticeships for employers?
From improved retention rates to a higher employee satisfaction level, there are many benefits of supporting apprentices within your organisation. Whether you’re a levy-paying business or not, it’s worth understanding the value an apprenticeship programme can bring your business.
Apprenticeships are an investment in all levels of your team, from entry-level to manager and beyond.
Improved retention rates
Apprentices across every industry are more likely to stay within your business compared to other team members. Apprenticeships offer learners structured career progression and increased confidence, resulting in fulfilled team members.
In fact, 80% of companies that have invested in apprenticeships report an improvement in staff retention.
Government incentives for young talent
Employers will receive a £1,000 government incentive for each apprentice employed between 16 to 18-years-old. The incentive is also available if the apprentice is up to 24 years old and has previously been in care. This cash incentive is to help with costs relating to a business taking on a younger, less experienced team member.
It is a clear benefit for any employer looking to bring on young talent.
Save on National Insurance contributions
If the apprentice is younger than 25 and earns below £827 per week, employers won’t have to pay class 1 National Insurance contributions. The employee will still pay their share, so this is a benefit purely for employers. The money saved only adds extra value to employing an apprentice.
Upskill your workforce at all levels
From new starters to management, there are apprenticeships for every level of your team. By mapping your apprenticeship programme to internal career progression, learners can understand their next step clearly.
Utilising your apprenticeship levy towards training your existing staff means a more engaged and skilled team.
Improve talent attraction
Around 75% of applicants applying through Lifetime Training’s recruitment service do so specifically because it’s an apprenticeship. Earning an accreditation alongside industry-leading training attracts driven, forward-thinking applicants. A candidate that is seeking to learn and develop is an asset to any employer.
Free recruitment services
Employers can cut the cost of the recruitment process by utilising Stockport College's apprenticeship recruitment service. Applicants are screened against criteria set by our clients, with the final decision being made by the employer.
Industry-leading skills and behaviours
New apprenticeship standards are industry-led and are developed by employers in your sector. This means the skills, knowledge and behaviour developed by apprenticeships are made to be the best in your industry. Introducing apprenticeships means your business is up to date with the best practice behaviours in your sector.
Apprenticeship Wage and Agreements
How much do you have to pay an apprentice?
As an employer you can choose how much to pay your apprentice, but it must be above the minimum rate set by the government. The minimum amount you must pay depends on the age of the apprentice, and how far along the apprentice is on the programme.
Apprentices under 19 or on their first year of apprenticeship are entitled to the minimum apprentice rate of £3.90 per hour.
If the apprentice is over 19 and finishes the first year of the apprenticeship, pay must be in line with National Minimum Wage for their age group.
Remember, the apprentice rate of £3.90 is the minimum an apprentice can be paid, and many companies pay a higher wage in line with similar roles. The average apprentice earns around £200 a week, and the rate will naturally differ with the level of apprenticeship.
What is the apprentice minimum wage?
The apprentice rate is currently £3.90 per hour and is the minimum amount an apprentice can be paid. An apprentice must be paid at least this rate if they are under 19 or in the first year of their apprenticeship.
If over 19, following the first year of apprenticeship the apprentice is entitled to the minimum wage for their age group.
This is a minimum amount, and many employers pay the National Minimum Wage or more to their apprentices.
National Minimum Wage*
|Apprentice Rate||18 to 20 years||21 to 24 years||25 and over|
*Accurate as of April 2019
What is an apprenticeship agreement?
An apprenticeship agreement is signed by the employer and apprentice before the start of the programme and outlines key details about the apprenticeship.
It’s a legal requirement and acts as a contract of employment between the apprentice and employer. Apprentices younger than 18 will need to get a parent or guardian sign on their behalf.
The agreement is one of two documents that all apprentices will need to sign before starting the programme. The other required document is called the apprenticeship statement committment, which is an agreement between the apprentice, employer, and Stockport College as a training provider.
What does an apprenticeship agreement contain?
An apprenticeship agreement will contain details about employment arrangements, working conditions, and the apprenticeship programme itself. Both the employer and apprentice will receive a copy of the agreement to keep.
The apprenticeship agreement must contain:
- Employment and training length
- Job role and apprenticeship programme
- Amount of off-the-job training hours
- Working conditions and rate of pay
Setting up an apprenticeship programme
Stockport College will provide expert insight into the development and launch of your programme and can provide resources such as apprenticeship agreement templates to support you.
Setting up an apprenticeship programme
How Long do Apprenticeships Last?
The length of an apprenticeship depends on the specific standard but will be between one and four years. The training programme of all apprenticeships will be at least 12 months long. The minimum length was introduced with new apprenticeship standards as a measure to improve programme quality.
Level 2 Apprenticeships will usually be around 12 to 18 months long, and a Level 3 apprenticeship will usually be between one and two years. The length depends on the level of apprenticeship, the industry sector, and the existing knowledge of the apprentice.
After the training programme there is an End-point Assessment period of up to three months which is led by an independent assessor. The apprenticeship standard is awarded once this End-point Assessment process has been completed successfully.
For example, a level 2 apprenticeship may have a 12-month training programme followed by a three-month End-point Assessment.
What is the process for taking on an apprentice?
If you’re planning on taking on an apprentice, there are a few extra steps compared to the normal recruitment process for other employees. If you’ve never employed an apprentice before, you’ll need to consider selecting the right apprenticeship programme as well as exploring how you will fund the training.
1. Identify the role
The first step is to identify the role an apprentice would fit into. It could be an entry-level position you want to support with expert training, a senior position you want to develop, or a hard-to-fill role.
2. Consider apprenticeship rules
While you’re at this early stage you’ll need to keep in mind eligibility requirements and the basic rules for employing an apprentice.
New apprentices will have all the rights of your existing employees. There are no upper age limits, but apprentices must be 16 years or older. You’ll need to pay apprentices at least the National Minimum Wage for their age.
3. Choose the apprenticeship
There are hundreds of apprenticeship standards for all industries and positions, so there’ll be a programme that suits the role in question. Standards are developed by groups of ‘trailblazer’ employers from your industry and are mapped to specific occupations. There are apprenticeships for every level of employee, whether it be a manager or entry-level.
4. Explore funding options
Apprenticeship training costs vary between programmes and funding band. Employers with a payroll of more than £3 million pay the apprenticeship levy and use the funds to cover apprenticeship training costs.
All other employers will pay 5% of total training costs through the process of co-investment, with the government paying the remaining amount.
Small employers with less than 50 employees can get full training costs funded for young apprentices.
5. Launch the programme
By working with Stockport College, together we will properly embed the programme within your business, informing stakeholders and mapping the programme to existing career journeys.
6. Recruiting apprentices
With support from Stockport College, we advertise vacancies across a range of channels and job boards, including our College open events throughout the year at both Stockport College and Trafford College.
Employers will then receive a shortlist of pre-screened, eligible applicants to offer interviews to. This saves employers time and resources, as recruitment is included within training costs.
8. The apprenticeship agreement
Signing an apprenticeship agreement before the apprentice begins the programme is a legal requirement. The apprenticeship agreement is a contract of employment between the employer and apprentice.
How are Apprenticeships Delivered?
Apprenticeships with Stockport College are delivered through a mixture of regular workplace training and classroom workshops with self-study.
Apprenticeship delivery may include:
- Face-to-face visits by the Regional Trainer.
- Practical on-the-job learning and observations.
- Off-the-job training sessions.
- Skills days and workshops
- Classroom sessions and masterclasses.
Supporting your apprentice
How can I support an apprentice in the workplace?
There are many steps you can take as an employer to support an apprentice in the workplace. Whether arranging a quiet space for study or assigning a mentor for support, the aim is helping the learner make the most of the programme.
This additional support will help the apprentice achieve the best possible outcome from the apprenticeship, improving your return on investment from training costs.
1. Prepare for the programme
Work with your training provider to understand the nuances of the programme in the initial planning phase. To ensure effective training and management, it’s useful to understand the learner journey and off-the-job training elements.
Preparations may include arranging the use of a quiet space for apprentices to complete work or identifying activities to be attributed to 20% off-the-job training.
2. Inform and engage line managers
It’s important to get the whole company on board with the apprenticeship programme, but especially the apprentice’s line manager. Arrange communications (for example roadshows, webinars or 1-2-1 meetings) with the relevant line managers to make sure they understand the programme requirements and check if they need additional support.
Younger apprentices may need extra support to understand their role and responsibilities in the workplace. This can be done through an induction, like you would provide any other staff member when they first start their employment with you.
4. Apprentice mentoring
Assign an apprentice mentor to provide professional support throughout the programme. Launching a mentoring programme has had a positive effect on apprentice retention in employers. Professional support in this way will build the expertise and confidence of the apprentice and helps continued personal development, especially in young or inexperienced apprentices.
5. Regular one-to-ones
Regular catchup meetings with mentors, managers or supervises will help apprentices resolve any concerns or issues with the programme or role.