How to take on an apprentice
Information about employing an apprentice and how apprenticeship funding works.
Applies to England
This guide explains what an employer needs to do and the things they need to consider if they want to employ an apprentice.
Incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice
There are incentive payments available to employers who hire a new apprentice.
Employers can also claim the incentive by hiring an apprentice who has been made redundant.
To make a claim you’ll need to register for an apprenticeship service account.
Using the apprenticeship service
All employers must use the apprenticeship service to access apprenticeship training to meet their business needs, filling skills gaps and boosting productivity.
From April 2021 all new apprenticeships will be funded and managed through the apprenticeship service.
Funding for your apprenticeship
If you pay the apprenticeship levy
Employers have to pay the apprenticeship levy if their annual pay bill is more than £3 million.
If you are a levy-paying employer you need to register for the apprenticeship service so you can manage your apprenticeship funds online. You will be able to pay for training and assessment from your account.
The government will apply a 10% top-up to the funds you have to spend in your account.
If you don’t have enough funds in your account to pay for apprenticeship training, you must pay 5% of any outstanding balance.
The government will pay the remaining 95%, up to the funding band maximum allocated to the apprenticeship you have chosen.
If you exceed the funding band maximum, you will need to pay all the additional costs.
If you do not pay the apprenticeship levy
As a smaller employer, who does not pay the apprenticeship levy, you will need to reserve funds for apprenticeship training in the ‘finance’ section of your apprenticeship service account. You can also give your training provider permission to reserve funds on your behalf.
We will ask you to make a 5% contribution to the cost of training and the government will pay the remaining 95%, up to the maximum amount of funding allocated to the apprenticeship you have chosen.
If you exceed the funding band maximum, you will need to pay all the additional costs.
You will pay your 5% contribution to your training provider over the lifetime of the apprenticeship training.
What you’ll need to reserve funds
To start with you need to create an apprenticeship service account if you do not already have one.
From 1st April 2021, employers who do not pay the apprenticeship levy can reserve funds up to 6 months in advance of the expected apprenticeship start date.
In the financial year 2021 to 2022, each employer who does not pay the apprenticeship levy will be able to make up to 10 new reservations to fund new starts.
You will need to know:
- which apprenticeship training course the apprentice will be doing
- what month the apprenticeship training will start
Additional funding and support
You could also be eligible for additional funding and support depending on your apprentice’s circumstances or if you are a small employer employing fewer than 50 employees.
Employers and apprenticeships: things to check
1. Eligibility of apprentice
Examples include, but are not limited to:
- having the right to work in England
- spending at least 50% of their working hours in England
- being employed by you, a connected company or connected charity as defined by HMRC
2. Agreements to sign
Contract of employment
You must sign a contract of employment with your apprentice. This should give details including:
- working hours
- working conditions
You must sign an apprenticeship agreement with your apprentice at the start of their apprenticeship. This gives details of:
- the skill, trade or occupation the apprentice is being trained for
- the name of the apprenticeship they are working towards
- the dates during which the apprenticeship is expected to take place
- the amount of off-the-job training they will receive
You can write your own apprenticeship agreement or download an apprenticeship agreement template.
You must sign a commitment statement with your apprentice and training provider.
This sets out how you, your training provider and the apprentice will support the successful achievement of the apprenticeship, including through experience gained on the job.
You should make sure that the person in your organisation that is managing the apprentice on a day-to-day basis is aware of the commitments that have been made.
The apprentice will only get their apprenticeship certificate after they have passed the assessments at the end of their study. This demonstrates they are occupationally competent.
You can write your own or use the apprenticeship commitment statement template.
It must include:
- the planned content and schedule for training
- what is expected and offered by the employer, the training provider and the apprentice
- how to resolve queries or complaints
You should also make sure that your apprentices have confirmed their apprenticeship details on the My apprenticeship service.
3. Choosing a training provider
The relationship between you and your training provider throughout the apprenticeship is important. Use Find apprenticeship training to search for the right training provider and apprenticeship training courses.
You can also share your interest in a particular apprenticeship training course with all training providers. Training providers are then able to see and respond to the demand for training.
You and your training provider must agree a price for the total cost of each apprenticeship, including the cost of end-point assessment.
You’ll need to:
- choose an apprenticeship training course at the right level
- find a training provider
If you haven’t been able to find a suitable training provider for a particular apprenticeship training course, you can share your interest with all training providers.
You or your training provider can use the recruit an apprentice service to advertise apprenticeship job vacancies and manage applications.
4. Types of apprenticeships
Apprenticeships are designed by groups of employers with the support of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute).
You can then see the full details of each approved apprenticeship on the Institute’s website, including information about the assessment plan and the occupational maps.
Each apprenticeship relates to a specific occupation and shows what an apprentice will be doing and the skills required.
Find apprenticeship training for your apprentice.
To successfully complete an apprenticeship your apprentice will need to complete an end-point assessment.
5. End-point assessments
End-point assessment (EPA) is an assessment of the knowledge, skills and behaviours that your apprentice has learned throughout an apprenticeship, which confirms that they are occupationally competent.
Assessments have been designed by employers in the sector and are conducted by independent assessment organisations.
Working with your training provider, you must select an end-point assessment organisation (EPAO) as soon as possible at the beginning of the apprenticeship.
If your apprentice is working towards an integrated degree apprenticeship the training provider will complete the end-point assessment.
The apprentice will only get their apprenticeship certificate after they have passed all the elements of their EPA, including the required standards of English and maths.
For some apprenticeships, passing the EPA and completing the apprenticeship will also lead to professional recognition by an authorised body. This is outlined in find apprenticeship training and on the Institute’s website.
Find an end-point assessment organisation for your apprentice and agree a price with them for your apprentice’s EPA..
Your training provider must contract with your chosen EPAO on your behalf within 3 months of the apprenticeship starting.
We expect that the cost of end-point assessment should not usually exceed 20% of the funding band maximum.
When your apprentice successfully completes their apprenticeship, they will be awarded a certificate.
This is requested by the EPAO from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).
Terms, conditions and pay
To employ an apprentice, you need to check and meet the following terms and conditions.
Your apprentice should:
- be 16 years old or older by the end of the summer holidays
- not be in full-time education
- work in a role that is relevant to their apprenticeship
- work enough paid hours each week to undertake sufficient training to achieve their apprenticeship
Apprentices can be new employees or current employees already working for you.
We base the minimum duration of each apprenticeship on an apprentice working 30 paid hours a week or more. This includes any ‘off-the-job’ training they do.
pay your apprentice at least the National Minimum Wage for apprentices
give your apprentice a job role (or roles) that enables them to gain the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need to achieve their apprenticeship
allow your apprentice to combine learning in the workplace with formal off-the-job training
pay them for the time they are in work and in off-the-job training
give your apprentice a contract of employment that is at least long enough to allow them to complete their apprenticeship successfully
Off-the-job training means training done by the apprentice that is separate to their normal role.
This can be done at a college or training organisation, on your premises or online, or using a combination of these options.
For some apprenticeships, your apprentice may need to study for a work-based qualification from GCSE (or equivalent) up to degree level.
At least 20% of an apprentice’s normal working hours must be used for off-the-job training. This ensures your apprentice will have the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need for their chosen occupation.
Your apprentice may also need to study for maths and English qualifications as part of their apprenticeship. You must allow your apprentice time to study and take part in apprenticeship training within their normal working hours.
You can agree how all of this training will be provided when you choose a training provider. Read our employer guides to support off-the-job training for examples of how this works in practice.
Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland
We have set out the information for apprenticeship funding in England.
Apprentices must spend at least 50% of their working hours in England and have the right to work in England.
If you’re an employer in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you may also wish to contact your local apprenticeship authority in the devolved administrations.
Further support and information
- Visit the employer help page
Last updated 17 September 2021 + show all updates
Added link to new guidance page 'Creating an apprenticeship advert'.
Updated 'Commitment statement' section to include information about making sure the apprentice has confirmed their apprenticeship details.
Updated section 3 'Choosing a training provider' to include information about sharing your interest in a particular apprenticeship training course if you haven’t been able to find a suitable training provider for that course.
Update to include information on reserving funding for employers that do not pay the apprenticeship levy.
The financial incentive scheme for taking on new apprentices has been extended from 31 January 2021 to 31 March 2021.
Updated information about claiming incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice.
Added information about new incentive payments for employing new apprentices.