While many businesses see the many benefits of apprenticeships, it's easy to be daunted by the ins and outs of apprenticeship recruitment. 

It can sometimes be a minefield, especially with the new Apprenticeship Levy underway. Despite the government's aim of simplifying funding and eligibility rules, a great deal of businesses are still struggling to get to grips with what's changed and the implications for them.

To help you get started, we’ve put together a beginner's guide on everything you need to know about taking on an apprentice. 

Contracts of employment 

Both the apprentice and employer must sign an apprenticeship agreement at the start of any apprenticeship. An apprenticeship agreement must include a statement around the occupation or trade the apprentice is being trade for.

It also confirms individual employment arrangements between the apprentice and employer. A template can be found on the Skills Funding Agency website

An employment contract for an apprentice covers the same details as any other employee. It must include: 

  • Working hoursemploying an apprentice
  • Rate of pay
  • Holiday allowances
  • Benefits
  • Job description and what is required
  • Agreed notice period
  • Grievance or complaint procedures 

It can be a good idea to include their training schedule and any agreed study time, so the apprentice is aware of what their apprenticeship entails. For young apprentices, this could be the first job they've had, so it’s important they fully understand their contract and what’s required of them. Sitting down with them to go through their contract will make sure there are no misunderstandings later on and ensures everyone’s on the same page. 

Holiday and sick pay 

An apprentice has the right to the same holiday entitlement as other employees. Apprentices are entitled to at least 20 days paid holiday per year, plus bank holidays. However, employers may offer more than this or increase it when the apprentice has been with their company longer. To assess holiday entitlement for apprentices, you can use the holiday calculator on the government's website. 

Employers must offer apprentices the same conditions as other employees and this applies to sick pay as well. The weekly rate for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is £89.35 for up to 28 weeks. A company can offer more if there’s a company sick pay scheme although, this is the minimum they can supply. It’s paid in the same way as wages -deducting tax and National Insurance and it applies to the days an employee normally works. 

You can use the SSP calculator to work out the daily rate for sick pay. 

Do they need payslips? 

Apprentices will need payslips like any other employee at a company. Payslips must contain the following: how to take on an apprentice

  • Gross wages: Amount of wages before deductions
  • Fixed deductions: Amount of any fixed deductions such as trade union subscriptions
  • Variable deductions: Amount of any variable deductions such as tax
  • Net amount of wages: The total amount after all deductions 

There’s also additional information a payslip might have, such as: 

  • National Insurance number
  • Tax codes
  • Pay rate
  • Additional payments e.g. overtime, bonuses 

What will taking on an apprentice cost? 

Now that the Apprenticeship Levy is in full force, funding for apprenticeships has changed – with apprenticeship standards and frameworks being fit into 15 funding bands. We've covered how the new funding system works and gone in-depth on the implications for employers in our funding guide

There’s also a wealth of funding available for smaller companies and those in the construction industry – some businesses can register for grants worth up to £10,000 (subject to eligibility). To take advantage of what apprenticeship funding is available, we’ve highlighted the key points in a previous guide here

Off the job training 

To address the relatively low engagement with apprenticeship-based training, the government is improving the quality and assessment of apprenticeships by providing 20 per cent off-the-job training for all apprentices. how much will an apprentice cost

Off-the-job training must be carried out within working hours and can’t be seen as ‘homework’ for an apprentice to do after work. This can be carried out with the apprentice either spending one day a week (or one week a month) spent at a training provider or combining both on and off-the-job training with the provider and employer. There’s a range of other things that count towards off-the-job training, to find out more take a look at our in-depth guide here.

Eligibility requirements

Apprenticeships used to be confined to young people in mainly vocational roles, however, for many years, there's been a push to open this type of training up for a broader range of jobs. With the launch of the Apprenticeship Levy and its associated reforms, there's also been a move to do away with much of the eligibility criteria around age and prior qualifications.

While we've gone into further depth on this issue in our stand-alone guide, in short, apprenticeships have been opened up to a much wider pool of potential candidates. It's also easier than ever to use this type of training to upskill your existing employees and use apprenticeships to take on staff in valuable support or back-office roles.   

And you? 

Hopefully, we’ve managed to shed some light on what’s involved with recruiting an apprentice, but if you’re looking for further advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on LinkedIn or Twitter

We understand that taking on apprentices in today’s environment can be somewhat daunting however, with our various guides and knowledgeable team – we can help make the process seamless and hassle-free! 

To find out more, simply book an obligation-free chat with our expert team today. And if you’re looking for further information about the Apprenticeship Levy, be sure to download our free, comprehensive ebook guide: 

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