Apprenticeships Explained:

All That Employers Need To Know


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What is an apprenticeship?

 An apprenticeship is a programme of learning that an individual takes over a period of time, usually between 12-48 months and is a partnership between an employer and an apprenticeship provider, and ends with a formal assessment, leading to a recognised qualification. An apprentice is employed in an organisation and the majority of their learning takes place ‘on-the-job’ i.e. within the workplace.

An important part of apprenticeships is that the equivalent of at least 6 hours per week of training must take place ‘off-the-job'. This means the apprentice completes a structured syllabus of learning supported by an apprenticeship provider, away from the workplace.

Benefits of apprenticeships

Apprenticeships can bring many benefits to your business:

  • Simple and cost effective to set up – supported end-to-end
  • Return on investment – staff become more experienced and competent with a recognised qualification
  • Increased employee engagement – staff are more motivated, loyal and have clear direction for their personal and professional development
  • Employee retention – many progression routes allow staff to realise their career goals
  • Business growth – attract fresh talent and grow your workforce by recruiting apprentices.
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What can I use an apprenticeship for?

Embedding apprenticeships into your business couldn’t be easier.
There are usually two ways of doing this:


Upskilling is a great way of developing your existing staff through apprenticeship training.

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Recruiting an apprentice is an ideal way of attracting new talent to your business.


There are different levels apprenticeships can be studied, each level has different entry requirements.

Level 2 = Intermediate Apprenticeship  

Level 3 = Advanced Apprenticeship

Levels 4 & 5 = Higher Apprenticeship

Level 6/7 = Degree/Masters Apprenticeship


How long does an apprenticeship take?

An apprentice typically takes between 12 and 48 months depending on the level.

An Advanced Apprenticeship normally takes 12 – 15 months.

A Higher Apprenticeship normally takes 18 to 24 months.


20% of the qualification must be completed off the job as part of the apprenticeship.

Off-the-job is learning done outside of the day-to-day working environment. Depending on the programme, this can entail the learner visiting one of our fully equipped training centres, or being supported at the workplace by one of our Learning Coaches.  It can also include self-directed study.

End Point Assessment

End Point Assessment (EPA) comes at the end of the apprenticeship journey and is carried out by an external organisation. EPA involves a range of assessment methods and differs depending on the type of apprenticeship.  

It may include a competency-based interview, a professional discussion to demonstrate knowledge and an assessment of your portfolio of evidence.

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How to fund apprenticeships

The size and wage bill of your business determines the funding for apprenticeships. There are two categories: Levy paying and Non-Levy paying. There are different funding rules and processes to follow depending on which category you belong to.

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Our apprenticeships

One of the main benefits of working with Total People is the breadth of our offer. We don’t just deliver training, we design it.

We provide apprenticeship standards in more than 20 occupational areas, from Level 2 to Level 5. We can work with you to provide tailored training solutions that adds value and makes a difference.

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There has never been a better time to take on an apprentice thanks to the Employer Incentives

The regular £1000 incentive payments that have been in place since 1 May 2017 still remain

All employers are eligible for these if your apprentice is:  

  • 16-18 years  
  • 19-24 years with an Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP) or has been in the care of their local authority  

The £1000 is split into two payments, the first is eligible once the learner has completed 90 days in learning and the second is eligible once the learner has completed 365 days in learning

Additional incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice  

Due to the economic impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak the Government has introduced incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice

Employers who hire a new apprentice between 1 April and 30 September 2021 can apply for £3000 for new employees of any age

Employers can apply for the payment from 1 June 2021

Employers who hire an apprentice also benefit from:

  • Cost effective ways to upskill and motivate existing employees  
  • A workforce willing to learn, listen, succeed and perform  
  • Lower recruitment and ongoing costs in comparison to skilled staff  
  • Skills delivered against industry needs that meet a set of nationally recognised standards
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Case Studies

We work with businesses of all shapes and sizes, helping them to make the most of apprenticeships and work-based learning.

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Get in touch

Whether you’d like to know more about a specific apprenticeship or ask a question, we’re here to help.


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Here are some resources to help guide you as an employer.

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