What is an Apprenticeship?

5 min

Apprenticeships have long been associated with young people entering the workforce. They allow inexperienced staff the opportunity to earn while they learn and gain the skills necessary to achieve maximum productivity.

Many industries offer apprenticeships, but they are no longer associated exclusively with graduates and young people. In fact, professional apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16 and operate in more industries than ever before.

Apprenticeships in the UK

An apprenticeship is a paid job which offers hands-on work experience alongside additional training. Becoming an apprentice is an excellent first step into a new industry and gives both the apprentice and the organisation a chance to learn and work together on introductory terms.

For apprentices, the advantages include:

  • Earning a wage
  • Getting holiday pay
  • Working alongside experienced staff
  • Gaining job-specific skills

As an employer, the benefits of hiring apprentices include:

  • Increased productivity
  • Nurturing talent
  • Improved staff retention

No longer an option reserved for large organisations, small UK businesses find apprenticeships valuable for recruitment too. Apprenticeships now include more than 170 industries and 1,500 job roles from entry to degree level.

How to apply for an apprenticeship

At Pareto, we have 25 years of experience in providing exceptional learning and employment opportunities for apprentices. As an employer, all you need to do is get in touch to learn more about how we can help uplevel your apprentices’ skills.

Apprenticeship courses are a minimum of 12 months, along with a 3 month end point assessment process. We can help create the perfect apprenticeship advertisement if you don’t already have a member of staff in mind.

Of course, if you have existing employees who wish to change their career path or improve their skill set, you can tailor an apprenticeship experience just for them.

During the enrolment process, we will cover the compliance and legislative requirements needed for funded training and ensure your learner is equipped with the knowledge and confidence they need to start their apprenticeship journey.

What is the Apprenticeship Levy?

The Apprenticeship Levy is a tax used to fund apprenticeships for all employers and helps fund your apprentice’s learning experience. The levy is a charge which taxes an additional 0.5% on companies with a wage bill over £3m. 

This money is added to a special fund, which finances apprenticeship training of new and existing staff for any organisation which needs it. And according to VTCT, engaged and motivated apprentices boost productivity to businesses by £214 per week.

If your wage bill is not high enough to pay the Apprenticeship Levy, there is good news, as you will still be entitled to at least 95% funding to train your apprentice. The government pays the rest directly to the training provider.

Your organisation may also be eligible for extra funding, depending on both your and your apprentice’s circumstances. For example, if your apprentice needs extra learning support or if you employ fewer than 50 people.

Who qualifies for an apprenticeship?

Anyone over the age of 16 years old who isn’t in full-time education can apply for an apprenticeship. Apprentices under the age of 25 are exempt from employer national insurance contributions, and different minimum wage levels will apply depending on the age of the apprentice. 

Apprentices aged 16 to 18, and those aged 19 and over who are in their first year, earn the national minimum wage for apprentices, which is less than the national minimum wage for other employees of the same age.

Apprentices can start at any educational level. Deciding what kind of apprentice you want to take on requires that you assess the needs of your organisation and how much time and effort you can afford to invest in their training.

You may decide that your apprenticeship will require previous qualifications such as an English or maths GCSE, for example. Applicants can even have a degree and still be able to start an apprenticeship.

Apprentices can start their learning journey whether they are at the beginning of their career, are embarking on a change in trajectory, or are upskilling in their current role.

No matter the type of apprentice you wish to hire, it is still common sense to take on only those who are truly committed to learning and high performance.

What do apprenticeship levels mean?

Apprenticeship levels describe the different tiers of training available to learners.

In England, there are currently four levels of apprenticeship which involve work-based learning programmes and will result in nationally-recognised qualifications. In the rest of the UK, apprenticeships may work slightly differently.

  • Intermediate apprenticeships result in level 2 qualifications and are equivalent to GCSE passes at grades A*–C (4–9 on the new system)
  • Advanced apprenticeships are level 3 qualifications, equivalent to A-level passes
  • Higher leads to qualifications at level 4 and above
  • A degree apprenticeship involves gaining a university degree while you work (level 6 or above)

For employers, it is best practice to require a level 3 qualification such as an advanced apprenticeship, A levels or NVQ level 3 when recruiting higher or degree level apprentices. Apprentices should also have five good GCSE passes.

At Pareto, we offer apprenticeships at level 3 and above in sales, leadership and management, as well as IT and digital industries.

Apprenticeships at Pareto

We are focused on excellence and aim to elevate our apprentices to the highest possible levels of productivity.

By developing partnerships with employers who are engaged with their apprentices’ learning goals, we can ensure that every learner has the opportunity to reach their full potential in a supportive and encouraging environment.

Your apprentice will benefit from seven learning methods:

  • Work-based learning provides education through real-life experience, allowing your apprentice to utilise their new-found knowledge and expertise via guided activities. This will incorporate support from their Line Manager and Skills Coach.
  • Face-to-face classroom training fosters interpersonal skills via interactive and engaging experiences. By focusing on leadership and management skills development, the classroom environment offers a great opportunity to network and experiment without risk. 
  • Virtual learning combines digital learning content with the latest technology to allow apprentices to continue their education on their own schedule. By allowing the apprentice more control over their learning experience, they learn how to manage their time and optimise their performance independently.
  • Learner visits are undertaken by experienced Skills Coaches and help to embed the knowledge and skills gained. These check-ins ensure things are going smoothly and performance continues to improve, while preparing the apprentice for the endpoint assessment.
  • Online tools such as E-track, a powerful e-portfolio designed to empower apprentices and improve performance, help employers and managers evaluate their learners’ progress.
  • Employer support from you as a manager will prove invaluable to their educational journey. You will have full access to guidance and support when planning your programme to help your apprentice succeed.
  • Manager support is a crucial part of the process of developing a highly skilled professional, delivered through an initial induction as well as a series of sales management e-learning modules.

In over 25 years of placements, training, and talent sourcing, we have honed our professional expertise to offer you and your learner the best apprenticeship experience available.

Contact us

Ready to invest in the future of your organisation’s talent? Get in touch with us to organise an apprenticeship, strengthen your team and foster productivity that will serve you for years to come.

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