Apprenticeships - The Ultimate Guide

Apprenticeships – The Ultimate Guide

Apprenticeships Training

The world of apprenticeships is changing, and with new legislation, comes confusion within the industry. That’s why we’ve prepared this comprehensive guide to understand apprenticeships.

As an employer

How to Access Funding

As an employer, you may have heard of the apprenticeship levy before and you may think that you still have to pay the full price for the apprenticeship training if you don’t pay into it. That is no longer the case!

Recently, the apprenticeship funding for non-levy employers changed so that they are a whopping 95% funded! This means that you’ll only pay 5% of the total cost for the training.

With SB Skills Solutions, everyone is able to access and reserve funding, with no hassle at all. We handle all funding reservations so that you don’t have to. Simply call us on 01695 558 420 and speak to our apprenticeship team.

The Apprenticeship Levy Explained

Paying into the apprenticeship levy is a legal requirement for all businesses in the UK with an annual wage bill of over £3 million. If this sounds like your business, then you will know that you have to pay 0.5% of your annual wage bill into the levy. This can be used to pay for apprenticeship training in order to upskill your workforce.

After 2 years of paying into the apprenticeship levy, you will lose the money in your digital levy account, so you should use it before you lose it. The money will be lost on a month to month basis after the 2 year period. This levy can’t be spent on anything other than apprenticeships and it must be paid if you meet the criteria, so you’d be wasting money if you didn’t use it.

If you don’t pay into the levy, then you don’t have to worry about it until you reach a £3 million wage bill, however, you might be nominated by a levy company to use their apprenticeship levy if they aren’t going to use it. If you receive enough money in the levy to pay for the apprenticeship training then you could receive full training for basically nothing!

Existing staff on apprenticeships

If you hear the word apprentice, chances are you probably imagine a 16-year old with very little experience in the industry. However, this isn’t true at all, while you may choose to opt for a new member of staff, you can also upskill your existing workforce with an apprenticeship. This is an easy, cost-effective way to get more out of your staff with full training.

For example, if you currently have a forklift driver who has been working for you for 10 years without proper certification, you can put them on an apprenticeship in warehousing and storage. This will hopefully build on what they already know as well as giving them the certification that they require. This will remove the need to bring in a new member of staff and you will already have a salary or wage organised with the existing employee.

Apprenticeship Training Plant OPerations

Apprenticeship employer responsibilities

As an employer, you also have responsibilities to the apprentice. There must be a genuine job available with a contract lasting long enough to complete the apprenticeship. The minimum apprentice wage must be paid, however, more can be paid. The apprentice should be taught skills and helped to gain knowledge in order to achieve the apprenticeship.

Employers must have:

  • An apprenticeship agreement in place with their apprentice for the duration of the apprenticeship
  • A commitment statement signed by the apprentice, their employer and the provider
  • A written agreement with providers, for employers who pay the apprenticeship levy and use the apprenticeship service, they will need to have a contract for services with their main provider
  • An apprenticeship in place for at least one year
  • The apprentice on the correct wage for their age, for the time they are in work, in off-the-job training and doing further study
  • Apprentices who are paid a wage consistent with the law for the time they are in work and in off-the-job training, updates on progression and average weekly hours and changes to working patterns must be logged and checked with the training provider

Hiring a young apprentice

If you decide that a new member of staff is the option for you, then we have great news for you! If you decide to hire a 16 – 18-year-old apprentice then you will receive a £1000 grant after 3 months to spend how you wish.

Who is eligible for apprenticeships?

Absolutely everybody! The apprenticeship scheme is open to everyone and you can hire absolutely anyone you want as an apprentice as long as they meet the minimum standards for education.

How do you reserve apprenticeship funding?

Apprenticeship Funding is easy to reserve with SB Skills Solutions. We take away the applications and do it for you. As a reputable solutions provider for all of your training needs, you know that we will deliver on our promises to reserve your funding.

How can an apprentice help you?

Apprentices can benefit your company greatly. Hiring an apprentice is an efficient and productive way to develop talent and a driven, skilled and trained workforce for any business. Employers with an established apprenticeship programme noted that their workplace efficiency had increased by 76%, whereas 75% reported that apprentices improved the quality of their goods or services.

Apprentices can bring a new outlook into your business as they tend to be younger staff members with different experiences. They might even teach you a few things!

Hiring an apprentice or putting an existing member of staff onto an apprenticeship can aid staff retention rates as they will feel valued because you’ve invested in them. Apprentices will feel far happier at work as they will have been given a chance at a lifetime career in an industry that they like.

Furthermore, it’s cheaper to train your employees through an apprenticeship, this isn’t just because of the lower costs through funding. Apprenticeships have less downtime than regular training courses as the on-the-job training is conducted at your own site.

As an apprentice

Becoming an apprentice

Becoming an apprentice can be a confusing task, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s just like getting a regular job. With SB Skills Solutions, we organise your interviews with the employer for you. All you have to do is show up and impress them!

Employers aren’t expecting a young apprentice to have 15 years of experience before starting because they know that you’ll learn everything you need on the apprenticeship. The employer will usually be looking for who you are as a person rather than experience levels. The willingness to learn will show the employer that you are serious about working for them.

How do apprenticeships work?

Alongside the apprentice’s day to day work, they will also take part in 20% off the job training. How off the job training takes place is up to the employer, it could take place every day for a short period or a full week taken out every so often in order to fulfil the 20% hours. The off the job learning must relate to the work they are doing, however, it will not be a part of the apprentice’s normal duties. Once the apprentice has completed the apprenticeship, they should be able to display full competency within the job role that they are in.

Benefits of being an apprentice

The benefits of being an apprentice certainly make it a worthwhile opportunity. Starting an apprenticeship will put you on track to a future career in the industry of your choice. The experience that you will gain whilst on an apprenticeship will also show any future employers that not only do you have the qualification, but you can also apply the knowledge on the job.

Earning whilst you learn is another brilliant reason for starting an apprenticeship. Education doesn’t always have to be an alternative to getting paid with apprenticeships as you’ll be paid a wage by your employer. This makes it a great way to upskill yourself whilst still earning money.

Your rights as an apprentice

As we mentioned earlier, you are a fully-employed member of staff with all of the benefits of the regular workforce.

As an apprentice you’re entitled to:

  • A contract of employment with a minimum of 20 days paid leave plus bank holidays.
  • A minimum of 30 hours per week at work
  • Allowed to undertake off the job training
  • An apprenticeship agreement signed by the employer and apprentice which is equivalent to a contract of employment
  • Minimum apprentice wage

What we do differently

We’re a highly experienced training provider

SB Skills Solutions have been in the construction training industry for many years and with our range of plant machinery at our disposal, we will ensure that your training requirements will be met. Our Construction Operations apprenticeship offers built-in plant training on a ride-on roller and forward tipping dumper that almost no other provider can offer. This inclusive plant training would normally cost you, as the employer, £1250, but we’re willing to throw it in for absolutely nothing!

excavator training

We’re always available to help

Our team is always available to answer any questions you may have. Our highly knowledgeable advisors have many years in the industry, so we’re confident we can always give you the response you needed.

Find your apprenticeships

Give us a call on 01695 558 420 to talk to our apprenticeship team. Visit our apprenticeship page to see the courses that we offer.


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    SB Skills are fully accredited to provide training and testing courses to the construction, engineering, warehousing and petrochemical industries.