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The ultimate guide to business apprenticeships

business higher apprenticeshipsEvery summer there are a large number of young people finishing school. Some may leave after their GCSEs and some after their A levels, but every student will be faced with the dilemma of what to do next. Many young people choose to go to University, but with tuition fees rising every year, business apprenticeships are a great alternative.

With the promise of real-life experience and earning a fair wage, apprenticeships are extremely tempting. So, if you’re considering hiring a young apprentice, this article is the perfect resource for you. What’s more, we’ll even be looking into why apprenticeships are good for business, the process of hiring an apprentice and what funding is available.

What are business apprenticeships?

The term “business apprenticeship” is often used to refer to apprenticeships in the business sector, however it can also be used to describe apprenticeships in a business of any kind. If you’re looking for an apprentice for your trade business, this guide is ideal for you.

Apprenticeships in business are the perfect option for young people who aren’t planning on going to University. Not only will they avoid extra debt, but they’ll be working and earning a wage straight out of school.

In fact, an apprenticeship in business allows a young person to learn relevant new skills and earn qualifications while having hands on experience. Business apprenticeships can be extremely fulfilling and are a fantastic opportunity for those who simply aren’t suited to, or don’t wish to pursue, other types of higher education.

How Checkatrade is helping with business apprenticeships

As a company with a vested interest in bolstering the trade industry, we were proud to sponsor the HIPS & SPARKS Learner of The Year Competition. Open to plumbing and heating apprentices, this competition gave us a fantastic opportunity to support new business apprentices.

At Checkatrade we’re also well aware of the skills gap within the trade industry and are doing all we can to help. After all, taking on an apprentice is a fantastic opportunity to train a new employee in a skill your business sorely needs. This will mean you can offer new services and reach new customers.

Look out for more initiatives from us in the future.

Why are apprenticeships good for business?

A brilliant option for school leavers, apprenticeships in business help support young learners with training and funding. But why are apprenticeships good for business? Thankfully for anyone considering hiring a school leaver, there’s a range of benefits, including:

  • You’ll save money on recruiting new staff by hiring an apprentice.
  • A new apprentice can help to bring a different perspective to your business, leading to innovation and practical problem solving.
  • Government funding will help with the training costs of your new apprentice.
  • Apprenticeship incentives are currently being offered by the government for anyone hiring an apprentice.
  • Over time, you’ll gain a new employee with skills that are relevant to your business.
  • An apprentice will be committed and dedicated to your company if you invest time and energy in their training and development.
  • You’ll see improvements in productivity.
  • Hiring an apprentice can help to grow your business.

apprenticeships in businessWho can apply for business management apprenticeships?

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 also only work for you, or a connected company or charity. In addition, business and management apprenticeships are only available for those who aren’t in full time education.

What are the requirements for business and management apprenticeships?

It’s crucial that employers offer genuine jobs for apprentices, which will give them an opportunity to develop professionally. This means providing enough hours each week for the apprentice to complete their training.

According to, the minimum duration of an apprenticeship should be 30 paid hours a week. Once you’re confident you can fulfil this criteria, it’s worth noting that there are a number of terms you should meet. These include:

  • You should provide your apprentice with a contract of employment, which is for a long enough term to allow them to complete their business management apprenticeship successfully.
  • Ensure you pay your apprentice a wage that’s at least the national minimum wage consistent with the law, or the field they work in.
  • Always provide your apprentice with a job role which helps them gain knowledge, skills and behaviours that will help them achieve their apprenticeship.
  • Remember to allow the apprentice to combine learning in the workplace with formal off-the-job training.

What essential paperwork is needed for business apprenticeships?

It’s very important to have a signed apprenticeship agreement prior to the apprentice starting. The agreement is a standard contract, which will confirm the specific arrangement between apprentice and employer.

Luckily, it’s relatively straightforward to draft your own agreement, but it’s also possible to download a template online. A great example of an apprenticeship agreement template can be downloaded from the website

How do I take on an apprentice?

If you’re thinking about taking on an apprentice and you’re happy you can provide the right conditions for them to thrive, you’ll need to use the apprenticeship service. This involves creating an account and following the guidance online. For larger companies, it may be necessary to pay an apprenticeship levy (more on this below), however this doesn’t apply to smaller businesses.

Small businesses instead will need to use a PAYE scheme reference number when applying to take on an apprentice. You should also ensure that the person applying for the apprenticeship is eligible. See our ‘who can apply for business management apprenticeships’ section above for more information on eligibility.

There is of course some paperwork involved with hiring an apprentice. You’ll need to draw up a contract of employment, a commitment statement and an apprenticeship agreement. Also, ensure you register your apprentice on an eligible training course, with a professional provider. You’ll be able to access any funding and incentives during this process.

Grow your businessWhat funding is available for business and management apprenticeships?

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. However, 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 that 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 fits 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.

What are business higher apprenticeships?

Business higher apprenticeships give young people the opportunity to obtain a level 4 qualification or higher. Applicants will need to have at least 5 GCSEs with grades A* to C and level 3 qualifications such as A levels, BTECs or NVQs. A great alternative to University, those completing a business higher apprenticeship will often end up with an HND, NVQ level 4 or even a foundation degree.

Hiring an apprentice checklist

  • Taking on an apprentice will bring benefits to your business such as increased productivity and savings on recruitment.
  • Anyone aged 16 or over who lives in England and isn’t in full time education can apply for an apprenticeship.
  • The government offers funding and sometimes incentives for any business looking to take on an apprentice.
  • If you’re looking to hire an apprentice, you’ll need to pay them a fair wage, give them sufficient work, give them a role that enables them to learn and a number of other criteria.

Reasons to join Checkatrade

If you’re looking to boost your business and generate extra work for a new apprentice, joining Checkatrade is a brilliant choice. Not only will this help you to reach more customers, it will give your business and your apprentice a fantastic and constant pipeline of jobs. You’ll also receive access to incredible member benefits and discounts that will come in handy when you are looking to purchase a new van, tools, workwear and more.

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