How Apprenticeship Works

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Apprenticeships - explained

How Apprenticeships work

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

Apprentices can be new or current employees. They will be full time member of staff in your company. Apprentices will follow an approved industry Standard whilst gaining a nationally recognised qualification, working with you full time and attending training sessions at a frequency confirmed prior to enrolment. 

You must pay the apprentice at least the apprentice national minimum wage.

Your apprentice must:

  • work with experienced staff
  • learn job-specific skills at workplace
  • get time for training or study during their working week at the college (must be at least 20% of their normal working hours)

Our Account Manager, industry-trained assessor and Learning Advocate support you and the apprentice to deliver our training programme.


You are responsible for:

  • giving your apprentice their contract of employment meeting the minimum hours of work currently set at 30 hours a week 
  • paying your apprentice’s wage (apprentice national minimum wage)
  • having a valid employers liability insurance
  • signing an apprenticeship agreement 
  • ensuring apprentices are given at least 1 day a week of college training during their normal working hours
  • making sure apprentices have appropriate support and supervision on the job, by you, to carry out their job role.

You must pay apprentices at least the National Minimum Wage .

There’s different rates of pay for apprentices depending on their age and what year of their apprenticeship they’ve completed.
The contract of employment should make it clear what wage you’ll pay your apprentice and for what hours.

  • Aged 16 to 18

         The current National Minimum Wage rate for an apprentice is £4.30 per hour.

  • Aged 19 or over and in their first year

         The current National Minimum Wage rate for an apprentice is £4.30 per hour.

  • Aged 19 or over and have completed 12 months

         Apprentices will be entitled to the Apprentice National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage rate for their age.  

Please use the National Minimum Wage and Living Wage calculator to check if you’re paying your apprentices correctly.

Yes you can use apprenticeships to upskill and retrain your existing workforce. Your existing member of staff will benefit for the new  apprenticeship standards that now reflect up to date industry practices, boost movtation, fill key skill gaps and improve on retention. Similar in hiring a new apprentice, you must allow your member of staff that quota of 20% off the job training.

You must pay your apprentice for time spent training or studying for their apprenticeship. Apprentices must spend at least 20% of their normal working hours training.

The training might take place:

  • at their place of work
  • somewhere else (for example, a college or training provider)
  • online

If your apprentice is also studying for Functional Skills in English or maths which is required by their apprenticeship,they are entitled to paid study time during their normal working hours but it is not included within the 20% off the job training.

You can get help from the government:

  • to pay for apprenticeship training and assessment
  • as an incentive payment for other costs


Help to pay for apprenticeship training and assessment

The amount you get depends on whether you pay the apprenticeship levy or not. You pay the levy if you’re an employer with a
pay bill over £3 million each year. 

If you do not need to pay the levy
You pay 5% towards the cost of training and assessing your apprentice. You need to:

  • agree a payment schedule with the training provider
  • pay them directly for the training

The government will pay the rest (95%) up to the funding band maximum. They’ll pay it directly to the training provider.

You could be eligible for extra funding depending on both your and your apprentice’s circumstances.

You contribute 10% towards the cost of training and assessing your apprentice and the government pays the rest (90%) if your apprentice started before 1 April 2019. This rate continues until your apprentice completes their training.

If you pay the levy
You’ll receive funds to spend on training and assessing your apprentices. In England, the government will add 10%.

Help to pay for other costs
You can claim for an incentive payment for new apprentices who join your organisation.
The amount you get will depend on when the apprentice joined your organisation.

Apprentices who joined your organisation before 1 April 2021
You can claim up to £2,000 as an incentive payment if your apprentice starts between 1 August 2020 and 31 March 2021.
You’ll have until 31 May 2021 to make the claim.

Apprentices who join your organisation from 1 April 2021
You can claim £3,000 for apprentices who start between 1 April 2021 and 30 September 2021.
You can make a claim from 1 June 2021.

Click here to find out if you are eligible, what you can use the payment for and how to apply.

Register for a digital service account
Register for an apprenticeship service account to access funds or pay for training. You’ll be able to apply for the incentive payment after you add new apprentices to your account.
If you pay the apprenticeship levy and use an apprenticeship training agency, you cannot use funds from your digital account to pay for the training agency’s services.

There are several steps to hiring an apprentice.

  1. Choose an apprenticeship for your business or organisation.
  2. Talk to us about the apprenticeship you’ve chosen.
  3. Check what funding is available for training and other costs to your organisation.
  4. Advertise your apprenticeship vacancy through us for free 
  5. Receive CVs of shortlisted candidates by us that suits your business needs
  6. Interview and select your apprentice and make an apprenticeship agreement and commitment statement with them.

HCUC works closely with all our employers in designing a job description. Our specialists recruitment teams  will advertise your vacancy for free on the National Apprenticeship Website and other organic and paid digital platform to attract good quality candidates for your consideration. We operate a strict vetting process which includes a 3 stage interview process. Alternatively you can find your own apprentice with a view to enrolling them onto the college’s apprenticeship scheme.

Ready to find out more?