Bringing on an apprentice

July 31, 2019

Later this month, students across the UK will begin to receive their GCSE and A-Level results and will start planning for a new phase in their lives. For many, this might mean enrolling at university, but with more and more students put off by skyrocketing tuition fees and decreasing job opportunities, some will instead look towards apprenticeships. In this article, we detail everything you need to know if you’re considering hiring an apprentice.

How do I find an apprentice?

Apprentices can be sourced through friends or family, or a local college. In recent years though, more and more people use the Government’s ‘recruit an apprentice’ service to find suitable candidates. The online service lets you search for apprentices and allows registered training providers to post vacancies online. You can also find apprentices by reaching out to a local training organisation. The training organisation should be able to put you in touch with a great candidate from a local college.

Who is eligible to become an apprentice?

To begin with, you’re only able to bring apprentices on board who are over 16 years old and who have a right to work in Britain. The apprentice can only work for you, or a connected company or charity.

What do I need to provide for an apprentice?

It’s crucial that employers can offer genuine jobs for apprentices, which will give them an opportunity to develop professionally. This means being able to provide enough hours each week for the apprentice to be able to undertake sufficient training. According to GOV.UK, the minimum duration of apprenticeship should be 30 paid hours a week, or more. If you’re able to fulfil this criteria, there are still a number of terms you should meet:

• Provide your apprentice a contract of employment, which is long enough to allow them to complete their apprenticeship successfully.

• Pay your apprentice a wage that’s at least the national minimum wage consistent with the law, or the field they work in.

• Provide your apprentice a job role which helps them gain knowledge, skills and behaviours that will help them achieve their apprenticeship.

• Allow the apprentice to combine learning in the workplace with formal off-the-job training.

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What sort of paperwork is involved?

It’s very important to have a signed apprenticeship agreement at the start of the apprenticeship. The agreement is a standard contract, which will confirm the specific arrangement between apprentice and employer. It’s relatively straightforward to draft your own agreement, but it’s also possible to download a template from online. A great example of an apprenticeship agreement template can be downloaded from the GOV.uk website

Can I get funding to pay for an apprenticeship?

Funding for apprenticeships has changed recently with the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy. The levy requires firms with annual payroll costs of over £3 million to pay 0.5% of their annual pay bill into a collective fund. Large firms are able to use this fund to pay the costs associated with apprentices. If you don’t pay into the levy, then the approach you take to funding will depend on the size of your company:

Firms with annual payroll costs of less than £3 million (more than 50 employees)

Firms who don’t pay into the levy, but have more than 50 employees will need to pay 5% towards the cost of an apprentice. The government will cover the rest of the costs associated with training and assessment.

Firms with annual payroll costs of less than £3 million (less than 50 employees)

If you’re an employer with less than 50 people working for you, then you don’t have to pay the 5% contribution on any apprentice who is aged between:

• 16-18 years old
• 19-24 years old and who has previously been in care or who has an Education, Health and Care plan provided by their local authority

The government will pay 100% of the training costs for these individuals, up to the funding band maximum. What’s more, employers who take on an apprentice who fit the above criteria will also receive £1,000 at the start of the process. The payment will be made to the employer, regardless of size, in two equal instalments via the training provider. For more information about apprenticeship rules for small and medium-sized enterprises, please visit here.

Firms with annual payroll costs of over £3 million

Larger firms, with annual payroll costs of over £3 million are required to pay 0.5% of their annual pay bill into an Apprenticeship Levy. When these firms look to take on an apprentice, they can fund it by withdrawing money from the levy.

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