An apprenticeship is ‘a job with training.’ An apprentice will gain recognised qualifications and essential skills while they’re working and earning a wage, and apprenticeship schemes carry benefits for employers too.
When you’re thinking about taking on an apprentice, it’s important to consider whether you have sufficient resources to support them, where they would fit into the structure of the company, and what type of training would benefit both the organisation and the apprentice the most.
Where to start looking for an apprentice
Once you have decided to invest in an apprentice, there are some steps to follow. First, choose an appropriate framework or standard fitting to the role that you require to be filled – this will depend on the industry that you work in.
Then you should speak to a training provider, who can advertise the job for you through the “Find An Apprenticeship Service”.
What should the apprenticeship agreement cover?
The Apprenticeship, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 (the Act) provides that apprentices are to be engaged on apprenticeship agreements. The form of the agreement will depend on whether the apprenticeship undertaken is in the format of a framework or a standard. A new format apprenticeship agreement provides for an apprentice to receive training in order to assist them to achieve the apprenticeship standard. The agreement must contain the normal elements required in a written statement of main terms of employment, and, from 15th January 2018, the “practical period” i.e. the length of the apprenticeship and the amount of “off-the-job” training the apprentice will receive.
Type of apprenticeship: framework or standard?
There are currently two types of apprenticeship to choose from; a framework or a standard. Deciding on whether to use a framework or a standard will largely be dictated by your location. Organisations in Wales must use apprenticeship frameworks. Organisations in England using approved English apprenticeships must use apprenticeships standards where one exists for the sector. Where a standard is yet to be developed for the particular sector, then a framework should be sought. This will also dictate the contractual documentation you will use for the apprentice so it is important to get it right.
Apprentices of all levels must receive “off-the-job” training which makes up 20% of the duration of the apprenticeship. The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) defines off-the-job training as training which is undertaken outside of the normal day-to-day working environment and leads towards the achievement of an apprenticeship training. The 20% requirement is part of the ESFA funding rules and therefore evidence will be required of this as part of normal audit arrangements. Funding rules require the recipient of the funding (usually the training provider) to keep the records.
Apprentices usually work for at least 30 paid hours a week and must work more than 16 hours in a week.
You must pay your apprentice for time spent training or studying for a relevant qualification, whether while at work or at a college or other training organisation and you must offer apprentices the same conditions as other employees working at similar grades or in similar roles.
Apprentices need to be paid the National Minimum Wage. This is £3.50 for those apprentices who are either under the age of 19 or in the first year of their apprenticeship which will increase to £3.70 from April 2018. Apprentices over the age of 19 and who have completed the first year of their apprenticeship are entitled to the correct minimum wage for their age.
Most employers work in partnership with training providers to deliver their apprenticeship programmes. To get the best results, it is important to choose a training provider that will meet your business requirements and fit your company culture and approach.
Supporting an apprentice: Induction
Once employed the apprentice will need a thorough induction. This may be their first job, in which case they’ll have no experience of what to expect, and won’t necessarily have the confidence to ask questions.
Supporting an apprentice: Ongoing support and evaluation
It is imperative to build on their commitment and give them the appropriate levels of responsibility and the support they will need to succeed. The aim of the organisation is to have a fully qualified and competent individual at the end of the apprenticeship.
You can do this by:
- giving apprentices a clear outline of expectations and a safe supportive environment to learn and develop
- encouraging them from the start to own and drive their programme targets and to seek regular feedback to self-assess their performance
- up-skilling and developing line managers so they can coach their apprentice and act as a role model/mentor
- putting a workplace learning mentor in place to further enhance the experience
- creating a proactive environment that builds on their eagerness, motivation and commitment.
If you require support in your organisation, or are interested in learning more about how to manage and recruit apprentices, contact our CIPD accredited team of HR Consultants today on 01223 855441.