Employing an Apprentice? Here is Everything You Need to Know

Employing an Apprentice Man and woman shaking hands StudySmarter

Are you a recruiter, talent acquisition team, or hiring manager in the United Kingdom looking to optimise your workforce and bring fresh talent to your organisation? Embracing the power of apprenticeships and employing an apprentice can be a game-changer for your company.

In this comprehensive guide, we will:

Let’s delve into the world of apprenticeships and discover the endless possibilities they present.

How to employ an apprentice: A step-by-step guide

Finding the right apprentice and navigating the process and rules of employing one can seem overwhelming, but fear not. We’re here to simplify it for you.

Step 1: Identify your apprenticeship needs and objectives

Before setting out on the journey to hire an apprentice, it’s crucial to assess your organisation’s needs and determine how an apprentice can contribute to your goals. Consider the following:

Identify the skills gap

Pinpoint the areas within your company where skills or expertise are lacking. Determine how an apprentice can fill those gaps and bring fresh ideas and energy.

Define your objectives

Establish clear objectives for the apprenticeship program. Are you looking to groom future leaders, foster innovation, or increase diversity within your workforce? Clearly defining your goals will help you shape the program accordingly.

Step 2: Choose the right apprenticeship program

Apprenticeships come in various forms, and selecting the most suitable program for your organisation is vital. The key considerations include:

Industry relevance

Look for apprenticeship programs aligned with your industry. Whether it’s engineering, healthcare, IT, or any other sector, choosing a program that directly relates to your field ensures your apprentice receives targeted training.

Level of apprenticeship

Apprenticeships in the UK are available at different levels, ranging from intermediate to higher and degree apprenticeships. Assess the skills and qualifications required for the role you aim to fill, and choose the appropriate level accordingly.

Step 3: Engage with training providers and register the apprenticeship

Now that you have determined your needs and identified a suitable program, it’s time to engage with training providers and register the apprenticeship. Here’s what you need to do:

Find an approved training provider

Research and select a training provider accredited by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). They will assist you in designing the training plan and provide ongoing support.

Create an apprenticeship agreement

Work with the training provider to draft an apprenticeship contract, which outlines the apprentice’s employment terms, training schedule, and responsibilities.

Register the apprenticeship

Complete the registration process with the ESFA to officially recognise the apprenticeship. This step ensures the training program meets government standards and qualifies for funding.

Step 4: Recruit and select the right apprentice

Recruiting and selecting the ideal apprentice is a critical process that can determine the success of your program. Consider the following steps:

Advertise the apprenticeship

Write a stellar apprentice job description and promote the opportunity across various channels to attract a diverse pool of candidates. Utilise online job boards, social media platforms, and industry-specific forums to maximise your reach.

Screening and shortlisting

Review applications and shortlist candidates based on their qualifications, experience, and potential. Conduct interviews and assessments to evaluate their suitability for the role.

StudySmarter can help you identify the right times to recruit recent graduates for your apprenticeships. Download our recruitment calendar.

Step 5: Provide support and development opportunities

Once you have selected your apprentice, it’s essential to provide them with a supportive environment that nurtures their growth and development. Here’s some support you can offer:

Onboarding and induction

Start the apprenticeship journey on the right foot by providing a comprehensive onboarding process. Familiarise the apprentice with the company culture, values, and expectations. Introduce them to their colleagues, mentors, and supervisors who will guide them throughout their training.

Training and mentoring

Collaborate with the training provider to create a tailored training plan for your apprentice. This plan should include a combination of on-the-job training, formal education, and mentoring. Assign a dedicated mentor or supervisor who can offer guidance, monitor progress, and provide regular feedback.

Continuous learning

Encourage a culture of continuous learning and development. Provide opportunities for your apprentice to attend workshops, conferences, and industry events. Offer access to online courses or resources that can enhance their skills and knowledge.

Regular check-Ins and performance reviews

Schedule regular check-ins with your apprentice to discuss their progress, address any challenges, and set goals. Conduct formal performance reviews to evaluate their development and identify areas for improvement.

Employing an Apprentice A mentor teaching a young woman and man StudySmarter
Apprenticeships in the UK are available at different levels. Choose the appropriate level depending on the skills and qualifications required for the role you aim to fill.

Why employ an apprentice: The benefits

Employing an apprentice offers numerous advantages for your organisation, helping you shape a skilled and dedicated workforce.

According to a study by the National Apprenticeship Service, 96% of employers with apprentices have experienced at least one benefit from taking on apprentices, and most can count at least 8 benefits.

Here are some benefits that employing an apprentice can bring to your company:

Fresh perspective and enthusiasm

Apprentices bring a fresh perspective to your organisation. They are eager to learn, adapt quickly to new technologies, and possess a drive to excel. Their enthusiasm can inject new energy into your team, promoting innovation and creativity.

Tailored skills development

By employing an apprentice, you have the opportunity to mould their skills to align with your organisation’s specific requirements. Apprenticeships provide targeted training, ensuring that your apprentice learns industry-relevant skills that directly benefit your business.

Cost-effective workforce solution

Apprenticeships offer a cost-effective way to meet your talent needs. Compared to hiring experienced professionals, apprenticeships typically have lower wage requirements. Additionally, the government provides financial incentives, grants, and tax breaks to employers who hire apprentices, further reducing costs.

Increased employee retention

Investing in apprenticeships demonstrates your commitment to employee development and career progression. This fosters loyalty and a sense of belonging among your apprentices, increasing employee retention rates. Apprentices who feel valued are more likely to stay with your organisation, reducing turnover costs.

The Department of Education found that after completing an apprenticeship, 83% continue working, out of which 44% do so at the same company with which they undertook their training.

Diversity and inclusion

Apprenticeships provide an avenue to enhance diversity and inclusion within your organisation. By actively recruiting apprentices from diverse backgrounds, you can create a more inclusive workforce and tap into a wider talent pool.

In fact, the Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network found that businesses with employees from a good mix of ethnic backgrounds are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors.

Costs of employing an apprentice

Understanding the costs associated with employing an apprentice is crucial for effective financial planning. Let’s explore the key considerations.

Apprenticeship wages and funding

Understanding apprenticeship wages and funding is vital for employers to navigate the financial aspects of employing an apprentice and make informed decisions regarding compensation and funding opportunities. Here’s what to consider:

  1. Apprenticeship minimum wage: As of 2021, apprentices under the age of 19 and those in the first year of their apprenticeship are entitled to the apprentice minimum wage. For those aged 19 and over and beyond their first year, the national minimum wage or the national living wage applies.
  2. Employer contributions: As an employer, you are responsible for paying your apprentice’s wages. However, the government provides funding options to support you. Depending on the size of your organisation and the age of the apprentice, you may be eligible for full or partial funding to cover training costs.

Additional costs

While apprenticeships offer numerous benefits, it’s important to consider additional costs beyond wages, such as training and assessment expenses, as well as the allocation of mentor and supervisor time. These costs can be:

  1. Training and assessment costs: While the government provides funding for most of the apprentice’s training, there may be additional costs associated with specific qualifications or assessments. Discuss these details with your chosen training provider to gain clarity on any extra expenses.
  2. Mentor and supervisor time: Allocating time for mentors and supervisors to guide and support apprentices is essential. While this doesn’t involve direct financial costs, it’s important to consider the impact on their workload and productivity. Properly planning and managing mentorship responsibilities can ensure a smooth experience for both the apprentice and your existing employees.

Administrative and recruitment costs

Employing an apprentice involves administrative duties and recruitment efforts, which may incur costs related to advertising, job board fees, and administrative tasks. It’s essential to factor in these expenses when planning for the successful implementation of an apprenticeship program. Here’s what to consider:

  1. Advertising and recruitment: Promoting your apprenticeship opportunities and conducting recruitment activities may involve certain costs. These can include job board fees, advertising expenses, and any recruitment agency fees, if applicable.
  2. Administrative duties: There are administrative tasks associated with employing an apprentice, such as creating apprenticeship agreements, registering the apprenticeship with the relevant authorities, and managing documentation. Allocate resources or consider utilising HR software to streamline these processes and reduce administrative burden.

What do I need to employ an apprentice?

To successfully employ an apprentice, you need to fulfil certain requirements and meet specific criteria. Here’s what you need:

Eligibility and legal obligations

Before embarking on the journey of employing an apprentice, it is important to understand the eligibility criteria and legal obligations surrounding their age and work rights. Here’s what to consider:

Eligible roles

Identify a suitable role within your organisation that aligns with an apprenticeship program. The role should provide the necessary training and development opportunities for the apprentice.

Age and work rights

Apprentices must be aged 16 or over and have the right to work in the UK. Ensure that you comply with employment laws and verify the eligibility of potential apprentices.

Training provider and apprenticeship agreement

Collaborating with an approved training provider and establishing a comprehensive apprenticeship agreement is crucial to ensure a structured and successful apprenticeship program. Here’s what to consider:

Approved training provider

Engage with an approved training provider registered with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). They will assist in designing the apprenticeship program and ensure its compliance with government standards.

Apprenticeship agreement

Create an apprenticeship agreement in collaboration with the training provider. This agreement outlines the terms of employment, training plan, and duration of the apprenticeship. Ensure that it adheres to legal requirements and provides clarity for both parties involved.

Funding and financial responsibility

Navigating the funding landscape and understanding your financial responsibilities as an employer are essential to effectively manage the costs associated with employing an apprentice. Here’s what to consider:

Financial contribution

As an employer, you are responsible for paying the apprentice’s wages in line with the minimum wage regulations. Be aware of the financial commitment and plan accordingly.

Funding options

Explore available funding options, grants, and incentives provided by the government. These can help offset the costs associated with training and employing an apprentice. Research and understand the specific funding opportunities applicable to your organisation.

Health and safety considerations

Prioritising health and safety considerations within your organisation is key to providing a secure and nurturing environment for apprentices to thrive and develop their skills. Here’s what to consider:

Health and safety compliance

Ensure that the workplace meets health and safety regulations and provides a safe environment for the apprentice. Assess potential risks, implement necessary safety measures, and provide appropriate training on workplace health and safety procedures.


Review your company’s liability insurance policy to ensure coverage for apprentices. Confirm that the policy covers any potential accidents or injuries that may occur during the apprenticeship.

By meeting these requirements and understanding your obligations, you can confidently employ an apprentice and unlock the benefits they bring to your organisation.

Employing an apprentice is a strategic decision that can yield significant rewards for your organisation. By following the step-by-step guide, understanding the benefits, considering the costs, and meeting the necessary requirements, you can successfully unlock the potential of apprenticeships in the UK.

Embrace the opportunity to shape the future of your workforce, develop new talent, and drive innovation within your industry. With apprenticeships, you are investing in the growth of your organisation while making a positive impact on the lives of individuals seeking valuable career opportunities. So, take the leap and embark on this transformative journey of employing apprentices. The possibilities are endless.

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