General Information on Apprenticeships in England

Introduction

The Government has identified that apprenticeships are key to addressing skills shortages. To this end, employers have been taking the lead in developing new Apprenticeship Standards which outline the knowledge, skills and behaviours that they would expect to see for specific job roles.

What is an Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a mix of employment and off the job training to allow someone to gain new skills. Apprenticeships vary in their levels of complexity and how long they can take to complete.

What are the benefits of Apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships are a useful way ensure that employers have access to skilled workers for the future by recruiting new, or training existing staff. Apprenticeships increase staff loyalty and retention, and have even been found to improve business productivity and increase the bottom line.

Who can take an Apprenticeship?

Anyone that meets any entry requirements set by an employer, regardless of their age or how qualified they already are, or even if they’ve already taken an apprenticeship provided that they are learning new skills.

What do Apprenticeships cost?

In addition to the cost of employing the apprentice, there are costs associated with their off the job training and assessments. These agreed between the training provider and the employer.

What is the Apprenticeship levy?

This is a tax imposed on employers whose payroll exceeds £3m. This tax is kept in a ‘levy pot’ and can ONLY be used for apprenticeship training. If employers don’t use this money within a certain timescale they will lose it. Many employers that pay the levy are using this money to upskill existing employees.

Who pays for Apprenticeships?

Where an employer pays the levy, the funding for apprenticeship training comes from the levy pot. Where an employer does not pay the levy then they must contribute 10% of the cost of the apprentices training, and the Government pays the rest (90%). Each apprenticeship is set a Funding Band which indicates the maximum contribution that can be made from the levy pot or from Government.

Can employers do the training part?

Anyone that provides apprenticeship training must be on the Education and Skills Funding Agency’s Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers. Employers can apply to be on this Register in order to deliver training to their own employees.

How are Apprentice’s trained?

Apprentice’s develop knowledge, skills and behaviours in the workplace. They must also spend at least 20% of their time in ‘off the job’ training. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they must leave the workplace, but they should not be doing their day to day work. They may for example be in meetings, learning on-line, shadowing etc.

How are Apprenticeships assessed?

All of the new Apprenticeship Standards have an ‘end-point assessment’ that is conducted by an independent organisation towards the end of the apprenticeship. The end-point assessment will involve one or more assessment methods. Common examples are knowledge tests, practical tests and interviews. The Assessment Plan for each Standard describes how it is to be assessed.

Apprenticeships are also graded, e.g. pass/ merit/ distinction, and all successful apprentices are awarded a full apprenticeship certificate.

What is QFI’s role?

QFI is approved as an End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) for specific Standard(s). So we develop assessment materials, approve assessors and assess apprentice’s using the methods that employers have chosen and documented in the Assessment Plan that accompanies each Standard.

We support Training Providers in preparing apprentices for the end-point assessment by providing guidance and mock assessments.  For further information contact us leadassessor@qfiepa.org