The Ultimate Guide to Apprenticeships for Businesses

What Is An Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship can be a great way to bridge the gap between education and a formal job role. It allows the individual to learn valuable skills and gain experience in that field of work. This can make them a valuable asset to your business and competitors.

Learning on the job has many advantages, and it typically takes less time than training somebody up from higher education straight into a fully paid position.

Employees can learn key aspects of the industry or sector they are training in while getting paid for their work. This can be an excellent alternative to studying at university, which costs the individual time and money. An apprentice will have to complete a combination of in-house training and additional academic studies to gain the full qualification.

Anyone over the age of 16 can apply for an apprenticeship in England, making them an excellent opportunity for young people to gain work experience. However, this can lead to a common misconception that apprenticeships are only suitable for young adults. This is not the case. So who are apprenticeships suitable for?

Someone can apply for an apprenticeship if they:

  • Live in England
  • Are seeking a career change
  • Want to gain extra skills
  • Are out of full-time education
  • Have little to no industry experience
  • Want to gain access to a specific sector

How Do Apprenticeships Compare To Other Qualifications?

Many job roles in the current market require a university degree or higher for a valid application. Not only does this limit the potential applicants for a position, but it rules out candidates who could benefit your company despite not having a higher education.

When a business invests in an apprenticeship program, it can help them develop a more diverse workforce and give people the opportunity to gain the necessary experience to be a real asset to their employer.

Luckily, the attitude towards apprenticeships is changing, and they are now being viewed as extremely valuable qualifications in their own right. Both options have many advantages, so it is up to the individual to decide which path is best for them. Here are some of the key benefits to each:

Higher Education

  • Lots of choices
  • A broader range of future career options
  • Soft Skills (e.g., time management, communication, critical thinking)
  • Independence & financial responsibility
  • Apprenticeships

  • Work & industry experience
  • Earn money while studying
  • No tuition fees
  • Gain connections & relevant skills
  • Completing either should result in comparable qualifications. A quality apprenticeship should provide the apprentice with all the knowledge and skills to help them succeed in their chosen career. The learning process of a degree course and an apprenticeship will differ.

    University degrees focus on teaching, education, and research. The theoretical knowledge gained is then tested in a graduate job role. On the other hand, apprenticeships work by training a person in skills they need for a specific career and learning them on the job. This hands-on experience is great for knowing if someone has what it takes and enjoys their work.

    training room

    Applying For Jobs

    Apprenticeships and higher education give someone slightly different qualifications when applying for a job role. Completing a bachelor’s degree will give that candidate a broader skill set and more general knowledge to adapt to various settings.

    An apprenticeship qualification provides a particular skill set tailored to their apprenticeship role and industry. This makes an apprenticeship a great option for people who have a clear idea of the career they want to pursue.


    Apprenticeships put no direct cost onto the apprentice, unlike a university degree. This means that the employer must fund the course. The UK government offers to support apprenticeship training. There is a levy that must be paid by businesses that earn over £3million per year. If your business is not entitled to pay the levy, you only have to provide 5% of the funding for the apprentice’s training. If you employ fifty people or less, the government will cover the entire cost. Incentive payments are also provided to employers of new apprentices of £3000 if you hire an apprentice between 1 October 2021 and 31 March 2022.

    For any companies that qualify to pay the levy, the government will top it up by 10%. These employers still qualify for the £3000 incentive payment if their apprentice is employed between 1 October 2021 and 31 March 2022. Any company that hires an apprentice aged 16-24, at any time, automatically receives a £1000 payment.

    If a company employs a graduate, there is no direct cost to them. Only the employee will have to repay their student loan. Apprentices are also cheaper to employ than a university graduate, as they do not need to be paid a competitive salary. They MUST be paid the National Minimum Wage for their age bracket, which will change the further they are into their training.

    How an Apprentice Can Benefit a Business

    Not only are apprenticeships an excellent opportunity for people, but they can also be a valuable asset to a business. They allow an employer to train an outstanding employee with the exact skill set they desire. This makes them valuable members of the workforce. With no prior knowledge of the industry, they won’t be tainted bad experiences or bad habits. They are also approaching their role being willing to learn, which makes them open to feedback.

    A survey carried out by found that 86% of employers could develop skills relevant to their organisation. 74% said they improved the quality of their work, and 78% saw improved productivity within their workforce. There are many advantages to hiring an apprentice, and not only does it help them develop their knowledge and skillset, but it benefits those who employ them.

    How To Provide a Vaulable Apprenticeship

    You need to consider several things before providing apprenticeships in your business. They are both a commitment to the apprentice and investment by your company, so they must be worth it. As an employer, you can take certain measures to ensure you provide valuable training to your apprentice.

    If you are considering starting an apprenticeship scheme, you need to take into account;

    • Your business needs – would you benefit from the extra staff members?
    • Funding – can you afford an apprentice?
    • Employer responsibility – ensure you are ready to take on an apprentice & seek out a suitable training provider.
    • Your apprentice – do they have what it takes? Do they need any learning support?
    • Your Commitment Statement – this must include a planned training schedule, expectations & how to resolve queries.
    • Mentoring – you must keep up to date with your apprentice’s progress & offer extra support where needed.
    • Final Assessment – the apprentice must undergo an end-point assessment to test their skills & knowledge.
    • Progression – if they are successful, what is the next step?
    holding hands

    What Are Your Employer Responsibilities?

    Hiring an apprentice is just as important as hiring any other staff member. You must ensure that the apprenticeship vacancy you open is for a valid job role that is guaranteed to last the duration required to complete all of the training. You cannot hire anyone under false pretences. To make the application process fair, the role must be accessible to those with minimal or no experience in that field of work. So you must not give it to somebody who has existing knowledge of that position.

    An apprentice cannot work for free or below the minimum wage for their age. You must pay them in full each month and provide them with all the training outlined in the commitment statement. In addition to this, your chosen training provider must be approved by the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers to be considered legitimate. The training must not be any less than one year in duration, and the employer and the apprentice must sign a written agreement before the apprenticeship commences.

    Rights of an Apprentice

    An apprentice has the same rights in the workplace as any other employee, and they are recognised as official employees of a company. They are entitled to the same statutory work rights as other staff members. You can offer more than the legal minimum in conjunction with your HR policy as an employer.

    Apprentices are entitled to:

    • 20 days paid holiday each year
    • National Minimum Wage
    • A valid contract of employment
    • Health & safety cover
    • Adequate break periods

    There are fewer grounds for terminating an apprentice’s contract. It can only be done if the company goes out of business or commits gross misconduct. When hiring an apprentice, they must remember that they require study time in their contracted hours. This will typically mean they are in the workplace less than other employees and complete the academic side of their training using that time.

    people on stairs

    Is an Apprenticeship the Same as an Internship?

    In short, no. Although an apprenticeship may seem similar to an internship, they are both very different and often get confused. Anyone may seek either one to improve their knowledge or training in a particular industry. It is essential that, as an employer, you know the difference.


    An internship provides work experience to both current students and recent graduates. They are much shorter than apprenticeships, typically only lasting a few months. The key difference is pay. Internships can be either paid or unpaid and should be advertised as such. They provide people with real-world experience with typical day-to-day tasks to complete. No additional training is required, and no qualification is gained at the end. They are still helpful in providing people with experience to add to their CV.


    An employee should graduate with sufficient skills and knowledge to prepare for a full-time job by completing an apprenticeship. They should be mentored and complete training courses alongside their work placement to develop their performance. Apprenticeships can be a much longer process, possibly lasting up to 4 years. They should be funded by the employer and the government and provide the employee with a full qualification upon completion. The apprentice is fully employed by a business and on the payroll.

    Requirements For a Higher Apprenticeship

    The qualification needed for a Level 4 apprenticeship or higher can differ slightly depending on the individual employer’s industry standards. Ideally, a good candidate will be over 18, have A-Levels or other Level 3 qualifications, and five GCSEs, including Maths and English.

    Depending on the demand for the apprenticeship position, an employer can introduce additional skills needed to be considered for the job. Existing employees can also apply for higher apprenticeships, and they will benefit from having experience in the industry and a professional work environment. A higher apprenticeship demands a minimum of 30 hours of work a week for at least 30 weeks a year.

    What if an Apprenticeship isn’t Right For You?

    Apprenticeships aren’t suitable for every business, but luckily there are other ways you can help with people’s development and experience within your company.

    There are three alternative options available here in England:

    • Kickstart Scheme
    • T Levels
    • Traineeships

    The Kickstart Scheme creates employment opportunities for those who risk potentially being long-term unemployed. The government provides companies who are part of the scheme 100% of an employee’s National Minimum Wage for the first six months of employment. The scheme is available for young adults aged 16-24 to help them gain experience in the workplace.

    Traineeships are an excellent way for employers to offer employment opportunities to those who don’t have the necessary qualifications to apply for an apprenticeship. They act as work experience, but it is tailored to both the employer and employee. An incentive payment of £1000 is awarded to any business that offers a successful traineeship of more than 70 hours.

    people around a computer

    Common Apprenticeships Myths

    Although apprenticeships have become more widely recognised within the working world, there are still a lot of common misconceptions about them. We’re going to debunk some of the usual myths regarding apprenticeships.

    1. An apprentice has to be under 25
    This is far from true. Anyone can apply for an apprenticeship if they wish to. They are a valuable way to broaden someone’s skillset and are extremely helpful for those looking to change their career.
    2. They are part-time contracts
    Again, this is false. Apprenticeships can be completed alongside full-time employment. The employer funds them, and any extra time needed to attend additional training and complete studies is considered.
    3. Apprentices are badly paid
    All apprentices must be paid for the work that they do. It is a legal requirement that they are paid minimum wage, which is then increased with the level of qualification. At no point should an apprentice have to contribute financially to their training.
    4. Apprenticeships aren’t equal to university degrees
    Apprenticeships are available at a number of levels, from GCSE to the equivalent of a Master’s degree. They develop knowledge and provide the apprentice with additional valuable skills relevant to that industry.
    5. They are only suitable for the trade & construction industries
    Initially, apprenticeships were created for this, but this is far from the case today. There are apprenticeship positions available for over 1,500 different job roles in any industry.


    If you are an employer and think you might be interested in creating apprenticeship roles in your business, it is important to consider everything discussed above. An apprentice relies on you to mentor them and guide their training to ensure that they are successful in the process.

    You can access excellent business and personal training courses to aid your apprentice’s development here at Study Academy. We have everything you need for practical staff training and development. Our online courses include digital training, personal growth, health and safety, business skills, and more. If you are interested in working with us, get in touch with us today.