Apprenticeship FAQs

What are Apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships are work-based training programmes designed for people over 16 with no upper age limit. Apprenticeships utilise a mix of on and off the job training put together to give your workforce the valuable skills your business needs along with a nationally recognised qualification. 

Apprenticeships can range from entry level through to degree level and the majority of courses can be delivered in the workplace to ensure minimal disruption to your business. 

Dudley College will help assist employers right from the start, discussing the right training programme, completing an organisational needs analysis, promoting vacancies free of charge and undertaking all initial assessments of the learner. 

How can an apprentice help my business? 

  • Productivity and profitability: Skilled, qualified and motivated staff are able to fulfil their role to a high standard which means reduced costs and better output. 
  • Competitive advantage: Set your business apart from competitors with skilled, experienced and qualified staff. 
  • Retention: Your staff will feel appreciated and inspired by your commitment to their career development leading to improved workforce retention. 
  • Innovation: Apprentices can bring new ideas and innovation to your business. 
  • Flexibility: Apprenticeships are flexible. The majority of programmes are available to start at any time of the year. 
  • Cost effective: We can help you to access the latest and most relevant funding for your business. Apprentices also help to reduce your training costs. 
  • Progression/Succession: Apprenticeships offer fantastic progression opportunities so you can develop your future managers. 
  • Funding: Apprenticeships are high on the Government agenda. We can access the latest Government funding and grants. 

Are there any funding incentives for employers? 

The employer co-investment contribution above will be waived for small employers (under 50 staff) training young apprentices (aged 16 to 18). 

There is a £1,000 incentive for each 16 to 18-year-old recruited, or for 19-24-year-old apprentices with a care plan; this is paid directly to the employer in 2 instalments (at 3 and 12 months after the start date). 

CITB grants are available for employers registered as a construction company, training an apprentice on a construction programme; Dudley College can assist you with the application. 

Funded support for transferable skills in maths, English and ICT can also be included within the apprenticeship programme. 

Our Employer Services Team can advise on all costs and incentives specific to your business; further to this, we can provide you with a broad and free training needs analysis, to help futureproof your company and meet your skills requirements. 

If you employ an apprentice under 25 then you won’t pay employer national insurance contributions for the apprentice. This saving is almost always more than the 5% contribution to training for non-levy payers. Plus, the more you pay the apprentice the higher the saving. 

What is the National Minimum Wage for an apprentice? 

AgePer hr.From April 2023 Per hr
National Living Wage£9.50 £10.42
21-22 year old£9.18 £10.18
18-20 year old£6.83 £7.49
16-17 year old£4.81 £5.28
Apprentice (all apprentices under age 19 AND any apprentice, regardless of age, in first year of apprenticeship)£4.81 £5.28

What are the different levels of an apprenticeship? 

NameLevelEquivalent educational level
Intermediate 5 GCSE passes at grades A* to C or 9 to 4 in the new grading system 
Advanced 2 A level passes 
Higher 4, 5, 6 and 7 Foundation degree and above 
Degree 6 and 7 Bachelor’s or master’s degree 

Is there a maximum age you can be to start an apprenticeship?

No! Apprenticeships being only for young people is a common myth. You can offer hardworking, reliable people apprenticeship opportunities, no matter what their age. 

Are graduates eligible for apprenticeships? 

Yes – as long as it’s a different subject to their degree or above degree level they can undertake an apprenticeship. A degree is a Level 6 qualification. As such, a graduate can study a suitable Level 7 apprenticeship or take a Level 2-6 apprenticeship as long as they are learning ‘substantive new skills’. 

For example, an Art Graduate could start a Level 3 Mechanical Engineering Apprenticeship. Whereas it’s unlikely that a Mechanical Engineering Graduate could. 

This means you can entice graduates to your organisation and put them through an apprenticeship to learn your particular industry inside out. 

Can my current employees do an apprenticeship? 

Yes. Any of your existing employees, from operational to director-level are eligible for apprenticeships which is a great and very cost effective way to upskill your workforce and retain loyal staff. They are also an ideal solution if you need to retrain staff into a different role.

How do Apprentices do their off-the-job training? 

An apprentice must be allocated 20% of their paid time to off-the-job training. This is your investment as the employer. 

Off-the-job training is ether done through day release or block release at college or at the employer’s premises – it just depends on the apprenticeship being undertaken but our Employer Services Team can advise you on this.  

How many hours a week does an Apprentice need to work?

It’s recommended that an Apprentice should work a minimum of 30 hours and a maximum of 40 hours. This is the best way to ensure your apprentice is getting enough time for their role, training and study.  

These hours include time spent training, even when the training is completed off-site at college. 

Your apprentice’s hours should be set out in their contract. An apprenticeship isn’t a suitable model if your business requires a zero hour contract due to the nature of the work.

How do I recruit an Apprentice? 

Recruiting an apprentice is really simple – Dudley College do all the hard work for you! The College will advertise the role, undertake the initial screening of applications and provide you with a shortlist. We can support with the interview and support with contracts – you’ll be helped every step of the way, and we’ll completely manage most of it. 

Why choose an Apprentice?

Why not just hire a new employee? Well, there are actually multiple benefits to choosing an apprentice. Apprentices are a great choice if your business: 

  • Has a skills gap 
  • Needs affordable staffing during a growth period 
  • Needs an injection of new ideas and fresh talent 
  • Has a role that requires close mentorship 
  • Wants to invest in loyal staff who are less likely to leave the business 

Don’t forget, apprenticeships are also an ideal choice if you’re looking to upskill or retrain your current staff. It’s often a much more cost-effective method for staff training.

What responsibilities as an employer do I have towards my apprentices?

There must be a genuine job available with a contract of employment long enough for an apprentice to complete their apprenticeship. 

Employers must pay an apprentice’s wages and the role must help them gain the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need to achieve their apprenticeship. 

You must ensure that your apprentice spends at least 20% of their time on off-the-job- training and you need to be involved in the Assessor visits/progress reviews and target setting, and support the Apprentice through their qualification. 

What happens at the end of an apprenticeship?

Many apprenticeships lead to permanent positions, however, there is no obligation on either the employer or the apprentice to continue the working relationship. 

This means that the employer does not have to offer the apprentice a permanent job and, if one is offered, the apprentice does not have to accept it. 

If you would like more information on recruiting an apprentice for your business, get in touch with us today and we will help guide you through the process. 

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