01 March 2018

Taking on an apprentice: 20 things you might not know

The Government wants to create three million apprenticeships by 2020. To help achieve this, small businesses with wage bills of less than £3m can access co-funding for a proportion of an apprentice’s training up to a maximum of £27,000. Here are 20 facts about taking on an apprentice.

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  1. The apprenticeship levy scheme was introduced in England in April 2017. Employers with a pay bill of more than £3m a year pay into the levy through PAYE. This gives these employers access to funds to spend on training apprentices.
  2. Employers who don’t pay the levy can take advantage of the scheme too. Those who offer apprenticeships for 16 to 18-year olds can receive 100% of the cost of the training up to a maximum of £27,000. There are 15 bands of funding available staring at £1,500 up to £27,000.
  3. Non-levy paying employers only have to pay 10% per cent of apprenticeship training costs for those aged 19 and over.
  4. Businesses with less than 50 employees are entitled to £1,000 for taking on an apprentice aged 16 to 18.
  5. Employers who take on an apprentice under the age of 25 are not required to pay secondary class 1 National Insurance Contributions (NICs).
  6. Existing staff can move onto an apprenticeship. The class 1 NICs savings would apply for those under the age of 25.
  7. There are apprenticeships available in 1,500 occupations across 170 industries. An apprenticeship can last from between 12 months and up to four years.
  8. An apprenticeship qualification starts at the equivalent of GCSE level (level 2) and goes up to Master’s degree level (level 7).
  9. An apprentice is training on the job so you must allow some of their working time to be taken up with study.
  10. The levy scheme helps pay for the training part of the apprenticeship. The employer must still pay the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage.
  11. The apprentice must be employed for a minimum of 30 hours per week.
  12. Apprentices must receive the same benefits as other employees at the same level, including holiday allowance.
  13. To get funding and manage an apprenticeship you will need to find and use a framework offered through a training provider. You can search apprenticeships available and find a training provider using the tool on the GOV.UK website.
  14. Once you have found a framework which suits your business’s needs and a training provider you will need to advertise the opportunity.
  15. You will need to draw up an apprenticeship agreement. This states what you are agreeing to do for your apprentice, the length of their employment, the training you are going to give, their working conditions and the qualification they will be working towards. A template is available on the GOV.UK website.
  16. If an apprentice is your first employee you will need employers’ liability insurance. Most employers are required to have cover of at least £5m.
  17. An apprenticeship can end early because you are making the position redundant. If you want to end an apprenticeship agreement early for redundancy or other reasons it is best to take legal advice.
  18. An apprentice may learn some new techniques and best practices through their training that you have not tried or considered before and which may benefit the business.
  19. Employers who take on apprentices can help mould the employee to suit their business by nurturing home-grown talent. Ensuring the business has factored the apprentice into their future strategy and a job is available post-apprenticeship can encourage loyalty.
  20. Employers should support existing staff where necessary to ensure they have the right management skills to help inexperienced apprentices learn the ropes.

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