1. What is an apprenticeship?
  2. Types of apprenticeship
  3. Business benefits
  4. Costs and funding
  5. Advertise vacancies for free
  6. Find out more

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a job with training so people can earn while they learn and gain nationally recognised qualifications along the way. They take between one and four years to complete depending on the job role and industry.

More than 100,000 employers, in over 160,000 workplaces, currently use apprenticeships to attract new talent, re-skill existing staff and tackle skill shortages. Apprenticeships are available to businesses of all sizes and from all sectors in England. Employment is a fundamental part of an apprenticeship. An apprentice must be employed in a job role with a productive purpose. Anyone living in England, over 16 years old and not in full-time education can apply to be an apprentice.

Types of apprenticeship

 There are three types of apprenticeship depending on the candidate’s skills and qualifications:

  • Intermediate (level 2)
  • Advanced (level 3)
  • Higher (level 4 or above)

Apprenticeships are available in the following industries:


Apprenticeships are employer led. They are also designed with the help of employers.The training apprentices receive is specific to the job they are doing and structured to help fill the skills gap of individual employers.

As employees, apprentices will be in the workplace for most of the time because the majority of their training takes place on-the-job. They usually do some additional learning with a training organisation (sometimes referred to as a training provider).

Business benefits

More than 100,000 employers currently use apprenticeships to attract new talent, re-skill existing staff and tackle skills shortages.

Apprenticeships are available to businesses of all sizes and from a wide range of industry sectors.

Employers report time and time again how hiring apprentices has helped their businesses grow their own talent by developing a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce. Apprentice employers also report other associated benefits including improved skills levels, service, morale and productivity.

 Why employ an apprentice?

  • reduce training and recruitment costs
  • increase productivity and competitiveness
  • develop a skilled, motivated, loyal and qualified workforce
  • get a great return on investment

Above all, apprenticeships can help towards improving profits by being more cost effective through providing bespoke training for staff (apprentices) and filling the necessary skills gap. A successful apprenticeship programme will help you to grow your own talent. Apprentices also tend to be eager, motivated, flexible and loyal to the company that invests in them.

Costs and funding

How much do employers pay apprentices?

You must pay apprentices at least the minimum wage rate.

The National Minimum Wage calculator works out the exact amount that you have to pay an employee.

Apprentices usually work for at least 30 paid hours a week and must work more than 16.

You must pay your apprentice for time spent training or studying for a relevant qualification, whether while at work or at a college or training organisation.

You must offer apprentices the same conditions as other employees working at similar grades or in similar roles.

Funding for training

You can apply for funding to cover the costs of your apprentice’s qualification if you’re providing their formal study as well as being their employer.

Usually the training organisation provides the apprentice’s training and will get this funding – contact the National Apprenticeship Service free phone on 08000 150 600 for more information.

The amount you could get varies depending on whether the candidate is:

  • aged 16 to 18 – you can get all of their course costs up to advanced level apprenticeship qualifications
  • aged 19 to 23 – you can get half of their course costs
  • 24 years and older – you may only get a contribution

National Apprenticeship Service 
Telephone: 08000 150 600 
Find out about call charges

Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE)

The AGE supports businesses with fewer than 50 employees that would not otherwise be in a position to do so, to recruit people aged 16 to 24 into employment through the apprenticeship programme. Employers can receive up to 5 grants in total and each one is worth £1,500. You have to apply for the grant before employing any apprentices.

The Grant has already helped thousands of employers to grow their business by employing an apprentice.

Advertise vacancies online for free

Your training organisation can advertise your apprenticeship for you through the free Find an apprenticeship service. Vacancies can be viewed and applied for by thousands of candidates, making it easy for employers to attract and recruit talented apprentices. You can track your vacancies by registering as an employer.

Find out more

If you want to discuss your options further, get impartial advice or support recruiting an apprentice, contact the National Apprenticeship Service free helpline number on 08000 150 600.

You can also access the Apprenticemakers peer-to-peer mentoring support service, where you can hear first-hand from SME employers across the country and ask questions about the benefits, support and challenges associated with recruiting apprentices.

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