Understanding Professional Apprenticeships

An apprenticeship is a job where you learn, gain experience, and get paid!!!

Apprenticeships deliver the essential skills and knowledge required for the apprentices chosen career and they develop the wider skills and behaviours that employers in industry want in an employee.

Utilising the UK Government Apprenticeship Levy, professional consulting, training and resourcing companies like The S&A Academy (with the appropriate UK Government License) are utilising their combined business knowledge to recruit, train and deploy the next generation of professional talent.

The S&A Academy take the subsidised funding from UK government, then adds multiple layers of value add training from our own stable of instructors, practicing consultants and sponsoring clients to deliver an enhanced learning experience to give our ‘professional students’ all the real world work skills required to be successful in their roles. 

At S&A Academy, we believe that there are remarkable apprentices out there ready to be found and in turn fantastic employment opportunities to be filled. Below are some common FAQ’s about apprenticeships and the employer’s responsibilities. These areas are not exhaustive – please speak to a member of our Business Development Team who will be happy to add extra context and guidance around these points.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a full-time job of 30+ hours per week, coupled with a training programme, where six hours per week have to be dedicated to off the job training for the apprentice’s learning. For the remainder of the normal working time, the apprentice will work alongside experienced staff and are supported with a mentor. An apprentice receives the same contractual agreement as any other employee in your company, minimum wage or above, holiday pay, etc. Through experiential learning, apprentices will gain the technical knowledge, practical experience and wider skills and behaviours they need for their immediate job and future career.

An apprenticeship is a job where you learn, gain experience, and get paid. Apprenticeships deliver the essential skills and knowledge required for the apprentices chosen career and they develop the wider skills and behaviours that employers in industry want in an employee.

What does an apprentice do?

An apprentice will:

  • Learn and train for a specific job role.
  • Earn while they learn, working under the guidance of an experienced mentor.
  • 80% Industry – 20% Classroom, spend a minimum of 6 hours per week Off-the-Job developing the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed in the workplace for their chosen apprenticeship.
  • Work towards the occupational standards of their chosen apprenticeship.

The apprenticeship training plan is built around the needs of the employer.

Employers can also convert existing staff into apprentices.

Key benefits for the employer:

  • Reduce staff turn over by investing in the employees training and development.
  • Fill the company skills gap.
  • Cost effective recruitment model.

Increase business productivity.

Who can be an apprentice?

In the past, apprentices were generally thought of as school leavers – thankfully, this has now changed, and anyone aged 16+ can enrol onto an apprenticeship with no upper age limit. Apprenticeships have evolved to encompass a far greater age range of people, as shown in 2017/18, where 41% of apprenticeships were started by people over the age of 24. An apprentice can be newly recruited for a role or can be an existing employee in your company.

What are the benefits of an apprenticeship?

Hiring an apprentice not only allows the employee to gain a qualification & complete training alongside their full-time job but is a proven method for employers growing their own talent & retaining this talent after training. 80% of companies that have invested in apprenticeships report an improvement in staff retention. S&A Academy offer a tailored solution for learning opportunities for all our programmes, this benefits the employers with true learning programmes that bridge any skills gaps in their business. As an employer, you will be developing a motivated, skilled, and qualified workforce built around your methodologies and processes, where you can adapt their training according to the needs of the business.

What do I have to Pay?

The way training costs are paid depends on whether your company pays into the apprenticeship levy, which is paid when a company’s total wage bill is over £3,000,000.

  • If this is the case, training costs will be paid from your levy fund. If unused, this expires after 24 months on a monthly in-out basis and can only be spent on apprenticeship training (if you do not use it, you lose it!).
  • If you do not pay into this levy, the government supports by paying for 95% of the training, with the company only paying a 5% contribution.
  • There is also an option for a levy transfer to cover the entire cost if you are non-levy paying, or if you are levy paying company who have used all their current levy funds via your DAS account that can be secured prior to the apprentice starting their apprenticeship

Employers are responsible for paying the apprentice’s wage and all the normal employee welfare that employees are given, which our team are more than happy to provide advice & guidance on.

How much is an apprentice salary?                                                        

Although there is an apprentice minimum wage which the government adjusts yearly, an apprentice’s salary can vary greatly between sectors, employers, job roles & location. Things to consider include any previous qualifications, work experience & life experience you are looking for in an employee – generally, the more attractive and competitive the wage for your industry, the more likely you are to attract and retain your workforce. To see the current government national minimum wages, please click here. For further advice on competitive salaries in your area, please reach out to a member of our Business Development Team.

How Long is an apprenticeship?

Depending on the level of the apprenticeship, they can last for up to 5 years. Programme length can be impacted by the working hours of an apprentice – for example, a school term-time only Laboratory Technician who works full-time for 39 weeks per year would have a longer programme than another apprentice doing the same programme across the full 52 weeks per year. The apprenticeship programmes at S&A Academy currently range anywhere from 15 to 24 months.

What are the employer’s responsibilities?

In addition to providing the apprentice with the same employment conditions as any other employee, and the usual company and health & safety inductions, the employer must ensure that the apprentice is dedicated 6 hours per week of their working hours for their ‘off-the-job’ training. This is to complete their apprenticeship training & will be arranged at flexible times to suit each business. The employer must allow us, the provider, site access and suitable learning areas to support the apprentice with the theory and technical skills. Finally, a workplace mentor must be appointed for the learner before the apprenticeship starts, as a support & point of contact throughout the programme.

What happens after an apprenticeship?

At S&A Academy we hope that our apprentices will continue the journey with their current employer. This will give them the opportunity to further demonstrate the technical knowledge, practical experience and wider skills and behaviours that have been learnt in their role and support the ever-growing need for skills in the science & technology sectors. S&A Academy will support in finding pathways after the program if the apprentice wants to move on to a higher level of qualification. If the business is unable to offer continuing employment following the apprenticeship, the employer should at least offer the apprentice an exit interview with valid feedback to take forwards in their careers.