Guidance

How to register and use the apprenticeship service as an employer

Sign in or register to access funds to pay for apprenticeship training.

From January 2020, as part of testing new arrangments during a transition period, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), is inviting all employers to use the apprenticeship service.

We encourage all employers to set up an account so they can experience the benefits of the apprenticeship service.

For smaller employers, with a paybill of less of £3 million, and therefore do not pay the apprenticeship levy, use of the service during the early transition is optional.

Following this transition the intention is, that towards the end of 2020, all apprenticeships will be arranged through the apprenticeship service.

All employers can use the service to tailor apprenticeship training to meet their business needs, filling skills gaps and boosting productivity. With training provider agreement employers can set permissions to allow training providers to undertake some actions on their behalf.

If your annual pay bill is more than £3 million you will pay the apprenticeship levy.

You will need to work out how much apprenticeship levy you are due to pay each month and submit it to HMRC through the Pay As You Earn PAYE process.

If you do not pay the apprenticeship levy, you will fund your apprentices in one of two different ways, either using the apprenticeship service or through a contract for funding apprenticeship training held by a training provider.

1. Before setting up your apprenticeship service account

You’ll need:

  • an email address you have access to
  • the Government Gateway login for your organisation (or you can use the accounts office reference number and employer PAYE scheme reference number if your annual pay bill is less than £3 million)
  • authority to add PAYE schemes to the account
  • authority to accept the employer agreement on behalf of your organisation

We’ll ask you to:

  • create an account
  • add a PAYE scheme on behalf of your organisation
  • accept the employer agreement with the ESFA

2. Setting up multiple connected organisations in your account

You can add multiple connected organisations to the same account, if you want to manage all of your connected organisations in this way. You should register every organisation that will make an agreement with a training provider for apprenticeship training.

If you have set up your account with multiple connected organisations your transfers allowance will be worked out as a total of all the organisations within that account.

You cannot use a single PAYE scheme across multiple connected organisations.

You cannot move funds between the accounts once they are set up.

3. If you pay the apprenticeship levy

If you pay the apprenticeship levy, you will need to work with your:

  • payroll department to understand how much apprenticeship levy you are due to pay each month and submit to HMRC through the PAYE process
  • finance department for strategic decisions on how you will spend your levy funds
  • HR or training department to discuss your apprenticeship strategy

How much funding you will receive if you pay the apprenticeship levy

The amount of funding entering your account each month is calculated by:

4. How funding works if you do not pay the apprenticeship levy

Smaller employers, who do not pay the apprenticeship levy share the cost of training and assessing their apprentices with the government; this is called ‘co-investment’.

For new apprenticeships starting on or after 1 April 2019 you pay 5% towards the cost of apprenticeship training. The government will pay the rest (95%) up to the funding band maximum.

All apprenticeships that started before 1 April 2019 will continue at the previous co-investment rate of 10%.

You can pay the difference from your own budget if the price of training is more than the funding band maximum.

As a smaller employer you can reserve funds in the ‘finance’ section of your apprenticeship service account. You can also give your training provider permission to reserve them on their behalf.

What you’ll need to know:

  • which apprenticeship standard the apprentice will be doing
  • what month the apprenticeship training will start

Before the apprentice starts their training, you can change the apprenticeship start date and standard.

When you can use reserved funds

The reserved funds are available to use from the month of the apprenticeship start date and the following 2 months. The reservation will expire at the end of the 3rd month if you do not use it.

You could be eligible for extra funding depending on both you and your apprentice’s circumstances.

5. Apprenticeship account roles and permissions

You need to think about who you want to have access to your apprenticeship service account. You can control what each person can do.

You can give staff members permission to:

  • approve apprenticeship data
  • approve costs for training which are agreed with the training provider
  • reconcile payments to training providers
  • sign the agreement with ESFA

You should give at least one other team member full access. This means that if the account owner is on holiday or leaves the organisation, someone else can sign an agreement or make changes.

6. Registering on the apprenticeship service

Once you are ready to register on the apprenticeship service, you need to set up your account.

7. Using your account

After you have registered, you will need to follow the instructions given in your apprenticeship account.

As an employer, you’ll be able to:

  • access and manage apprenticeship funding
  • receive a transfer of apprenticeship funds where eligible
  • advertise vacancies on Find an apprenticeship
  • search for apprenticeships and approved training providers
  • choose approved training providers
  • select suitable end-point assessment organisations
  • give feedback on apprenticeship training
  • give training providers permission to carry out some tasks on your behalf

As an employer who pays the apprenticeship levy, you’ll be able to:

  • add PAYE schemes you want to use for apprenticeship funding
  • add your organisations contracting with training providers
  • transfer a maximum of 25% of your unused annual funds to other employers

As an employer that does not pay the apprenticeship levy

You’ll be able to reserve apprenticeship funding

8. Get help with the apprenticeship service

You can either:

  • visit the knowledge hub

  • search for help in the apprenticeship service at any time

  • call (08000 150 600) or email us (helpdesk@manage.apprenticeships.service.gov.uk) during our opening times

Opening times

Our opening times are 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday. During our opening times, we’ll reply to emails within 4 hours.

Published 13 February 2017
Last updated 13 February 2020 + show all updates
  1. Update to reflect policy change as all employers have access to the Apprenticeship service.

  2. Updated to reflect that for apprenticeship starts from 1 April 2019 the government now pays 95% towards the cost apprenticeship training up to the funding band maximum.

  3. Update for employers who pay the apprenticeship levy about how they can now advertise apprenticeship vacancies from their apprenticeship service account.

  4. Updated content on using the apprenticeship service.

  5. First published.