Apprentices are aged 16 or over and combine working with studying for a work-based qualification - from GCSEs or equivalent up to degree level.
Apprentices can be new or current employees.
You could get a grant or funding to employ an apprentice in England or Wales.
You must pay the apprentice at least the minimum wage during their placement with you.
Your apprentice must:
- work with experienced staff
- learn job-specific skills
- study for a work-based qualification during their working week, eg at a college or training organisation
Hiring your apprentice
There are several steps to taking on an apprentice.
- Check the apprenticeships framework for an apprenticeship in your industry and at a suitable level - contact the National Apprenticeship Service if you need help or advice.
- Register your interest in employing an apprentice with the National Apprenticeship Service.
- Find a training organisation that offers apprenticeships for your industry - they’ll handle your apprentice’s training, qualification and assessment.
- Check you’re eligible for a grant and apply.
- Advertise your apprenticeship - your training organisation will do this for you through apprenticeship vacancies. You can track your vacancies by registering as an employer.
- Select your apprentice and make an apprenticeship agreement with them.
You can use an apprenticeship training agency if you want to employ an apprentice without the responsibility for running the apprenticeship scheme.
How long it lasts
Apprenticeships can last from 1 to 4 years, depending on the level of qualification the apprentice is studying for.
Get a grant
You may get a £1,500 apprenticeship grant if:
- you have less than 50 employees
- your apprentice is aged 16 to 24
You can claim support for up to 5 apprentices.
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 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, eg higher diplomas or A-levels
- aged 19 to 23 - you can get half of their course costs
- 24 years and older - you may only get a contribution
Pay and conditions
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. This includes:
- paid holidays
- sick pay
- any benefits you offer, eg childcare voucher schemes
- any support you offer, eg coaching or mentoring
Apprentices and redundancy
You can’t usually make an apprentice redundant simply because you can’t afford to pay them, eg if your company runs out of work. This is because you have a contract to train them.
You should get legal advice if you think you might have to make an apprentice redundant or want to end the apprenticeship early for another reason.
If you’re unsure whether you can commit to a full apprenticeship but would still like to hire an apprentice, you can use an apprenticeship training agency.
Make an apprenticeship agreement
You must sign an apprenticeship agreement with your apprentice.
This gives details of what you agree to do for the apprentice, including:
- how long the apprenticeship is for
- the training you’ll give them
- their working conditions
- the qualifications they are working towards