Feb 07


National Apprenticeship Week takes place from 6th -12 February 2023 and is a celebration of apprenticeship schemes and the positive impact they have on individuals, business and indeed the wider economy.  But, what is an apprenticeship and what do employers need to know about employing an apprentice?

The Basics

An apprenticeship is a genuine job role with a skills development programme and assessment running alongside it.  It is a way for individuals to develop valuable skills and experience in a specific job role whilst also earning a wage.  The apprentice benefits from a mix of workplace learning with the support of a mentor, formal off the job training and the opportunity to put what they have learnt into practice within the work environment. The organisation benefits from boosting the skills of its workforce and providing a cost effective way of bringing new talent into the business.

Apprentices must be aged 16 or over and can be either new or existing staff looking to move into a new role.  Apprenticeships must last for a minimum of 12 months but can last up to a maximum of 5 years depending on the level the apprentice is studying.  The apprentice must be employed on a contract which is long enough for them to complete the apprenticeship (including the end point assessment) and at least 20% of their normal working hours must be used for off the job learning.  They must be taking part in active learning throughout the apprenticeship and have progress reviews every 12 weeks that involve both the employer and the training provider.


The apprentice must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage for their age group and the employer will be required to pay them for their study hours as well as their normal working hours.  Employers are not required to pay National Insurance Contributions for apprentices under the age of 25 whose earning fall below the higher rate of tax (currently £50,271 per annum) making it a very cost effective way of recruiting and growing new talent.


Government funding is available for the cost of training the apprentice but this varies depending on the size of the organisation.  Larger organisations, with an annual wage bill of over £3 million, will pay the apprenticeship levy and will use that to fund the training cost of any apprenticeship scheme they wish to offer.  Smaller organisations who do not pay the levy will be required to pay a contribution of 5% of the training cost and the government will pay the remaining 95% (up to the maximum funding band for that particular subject).

Earning and learning

All apprenticeship programmes are made up of two components on the job learning and off the job learning.  The on the job training component constitutes up to 80% of the apprenticeship scheme and involves the apprentice learning from their mentor, as well as other employees, around the requirements for the job role for which they are training.  Off the job learning involves the apprentice spending a minimum of 20% of their time away from their normal job role developing the skills and knowledge associated with the apprenticeship standard for their role.  This can include day release arrangements to attend college/university or the training providers premises, block release, e-learning arrangements, training days or workshops and even more practical arrangements such as work shadowing.  Off the job learning must be directly relevant to the apprenticeship standard the individual is studying and must not form part of their usual duties.


To engage an apprentice, the organisation will need to supply an Apprenticeship Agreement and Commitment Statement.  The Apprenticeship Agreement provides details of the skill or trade the apprentice is being trained in, the dates the apprenticeship will run for and the amount of off the job learning they will receive.  The Commitment Statement will include the planned content and schedule for delivery of training, what is expected and offered by the employer, the training provider and the apprentice and details of how to resolve any queries or complaints. 

Employing an apprentice has a range of business benefits such as improved employee retention and motivation whilst also reducing recruitment costs.  It can be a positive and cost-effective way of growing talent and developing a skilled, motivated and productive workforce.

Now is a great time to start thinking about hiring an apprentice or running an apprenticeship scheme in your business.  The HROverload team are here to help guide you through the process and can help with any issues that arise.  Why not give us a shout us at

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