Apprenticeship FAQs

Answers to frequently asked questions from employers about apprenticeships.

24 November 2020

Employing apprentices

  • Apprenticeships are work-based training programmes that are designed to help employers train people for specific job roles. At the same time, apprentices get a paying job with valuable training for 20 percent of their time while they work towards a nationally recognised apprenticeship standard or framework.

  • No - employers can take on as many apprentices as they can support and the apprenticeship levy that your organisation pays into can support with the funding.

  • We have a section on our website that is dedicated to staff engagement that includes information, tools and a resource library with useful techniques that can be adapted to engage managers. In our apprenticeship page we outline the benefits that apprentices can bring to your organisation which may help you to build a case.

  • All apprentices must have a contract of employment which is long enough for them to complete the apprenticeship programme. They must also have a job role (or roles) that provides them with the opportunity to gain the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to achieve their apprenticeship.

    Employment can be offered either on a fixed-term or permanent basis, however the apprenticeship must last a minimum of 12 months, regardless of age or prior experience.

    The Apprenticeship funding rules contain detailed information on employing apprentices.

  • You can only use the funds in your apprenticeship service account, or government employer co-investment, for those individuals who are considered eligible. They must have the right to work in England and have an eligible residency status. This applies to citizens from both within and outside the European Economic Area. The Apprenticeship funding rules contain detailed information on this.

  • The minimum duration of 12 months is based on an apprentice working at least 30 hours a week, including any off-the-job training they undertake. If the apprentice works fewer than 30 hours a week, or where a part-time working pattern is needed, you must agree with the training provider to extend the apprenticeship accordingly.

  • The Apprenticeship funding rules contain information on the action an employer must take if the apprentice requires a break in their apprenticeship due to illness, maternity, or other personal reasons. This includes when to stop and reactivate payments, who to inform and how to record this break to avoid incurring any costs.

  • Remploy offers a free service to any apprentice who is experiencing mental health difficulties at work or has been signed off sick with a mental health condition but wants to return to work. Trained professionals can offer support with emotional wellbeing, advice on simple workplace adjustments, and successful coping strategies. For more information visit Mental health support for apprentices

  • From April 2016, employers are not required to pay employer national insurance contributions for apprentices under the age of 25 on earnings up to the upper earnings limit.

  • The NHS Staff Council has some general guidance on apprenticeship employment and approaches to pay. Apprentices must be offered the same conditions as other employees and paid a lawful wage for the time they are in work and in off-the-job training.

  • Apprentices may need additional support in the initial stages, especially if this is their first experience of employment but this is likely to decrease as their skills and confidence grow. Where appropriate, supervision or mentoring can be offered by an existing member of staff wishing to gain experience as part of their development.

    Financial support is available to help with the cost of supporting younger apprentices, care leavers and young adults up to 25 who have an education, health and care plan (EHC). For more details see the Apprenticeship funding rules.

  • As apprentices are employed, there is no requirement for the staff supervising them to have a DBS check, however, it is good practice to ensure they have the appropriate skills and qualities to support an apprentice in their new role.

  • The Department for Education (DfE) has published guidance on how to support apprentices with a learning difficulty or disability, including the funding options available. The guidance outlines:

    • how providers should assess and identify the needs of their apprentices
    • how to make a claim in line with the apprenticeship funding rules

    Employers can receive up to £150 a month for additional learning needs, with the possibility of making further claims. There is also additional funding available which can go directly to the apprentice.

  • NHS Employers have developed a poster that employers can personalise to advertise the benefits of apprenticeships to their workforce. 

Training and assessment

  • Yes - as long as the activity is within the scope of their role, is away from their day-to-day job and the apprentice gets to learn and practice their skills and knowledge.

    For further guidance and resources for employers on meeting the 20 per cent off-the-job training requirement visit to Apprenticeships: off-the-job training.

  • Once you know which apprenticeship standard or framework you want to deliver you can use the find apprenticeship training service to select an approved apprenticeship training provider in your area.

    Employers negotiate with training providers to agree a total price for each apprenticeship, which includes the cost of the training and the end point assessment.

  • If the prior learning is relevant to the apprenticeship being undertaken, then yes. Please see the HASO website for more information on recognition of prior learning.

  • All apprenticeship standards contain an EPA which must be passed to complete the apprenticeship. The cost of the EPA must be included in the total price for each apprenticeship. The register of apprenticeship assessment organisations lists all the organisations approved to undertake EPAs.

  • Yes, but employers wanting to deliver apprenticeship training, either to their own staff or to other employers’ staff will need to become a registered apprenticeship training provider.

    There is more information on becoming an apprenticeship training provider on the government website.

  • Healthcare Apprenticeships Standards Online (HASO) is an online system developed by Skills for Health that allows you to find and download apprenticeship standards that are commonly used in healthcare settings. You can search by occupation, level or route.


  • Apprenticeship standards and assessment plans are developed by employer-led ‘Trailblazer’ groups. HASO has information about this process and how you can get involved in the Trailblazer section.


  • No. Apprentices are paid a salary rather than funded through a scholarship therefore they are not eligible for widening access training schemes. For more information please see the HMRC website.

  • Effective workforce planning will help you to identify where apprenticeships can support your workforce strategy and fill some of your skills gaps. 

    If you are looking to introduce the nursing associate role, our pages about nursing associates includes information on how workforce planning can help to introduce the role and includes links to some useful resources.

    We held a webinar to understand how trusts are using apprenticeships to increase their levy spend and develop talent pipelines into an NHS career. 

  • From April 2019 employers can transfer up to 25 per cent of their apprenticeship levy to another employer, including those in their supply chain, primary care or another healthcare service provider in their area. We have set out the rules and some of the opportunities this creates in our levy transfer briefing.

  • HASO has a toolkit for employers designed to support you through the process, from setting out your organisational strategy through to when your apprentices are in the workplace and this includes a costings calculator.

  • Additional payments are available to support younger apprentices, young care leavers and young adults up to 25 who have an education, health and care plan (EHC). There is further additional funding to help apprentices gain a Level 2 in English and maths, and for those with a condition such as dyslexia, learning difficulties or disabilities.

    The Apprenticeship funding rules contain detailed information on the financial support available.

  • Employers who become training providers can use funds in their apprenticeship service account to pay for some of the related costs of being a training provider, including administration, use of premises and other costs associated with the delivery of apprenticeships.

    Further details can be found in the Apprenticeship funding rules.

General questions

  • A National Framework is available to help simplify the procurement and selection of training providers for nursing associate, nursing, and midwifery apprenticeship programmes. Employers can work directly or as a collaboration to co-create programmes and negotiate their delivery and location. For more information about the framework visit HASOs procurement guide.

  • Health Education England has created some toolkits with step-by-step guides on establishing, growing and improving work experience programmes for aspiring clinical and non-clinical staff.

  • From April 2019 employers can transfer up to 25 per cent of their apprenticeship levy to another employer. We have set out the rules and some of the opportunities this creates in our levy transfer briefing.

  • Apprenticeships are not just for new recruits or young people. They are an ideal way of developing staff across an organisation including individuals who already hold a qualification as long as they are acquiring new skills that are substantially different.

  • Many employers use traineeships to prepare young people for an apprenticeship. Traineeships are funded separately and designed to help those aged 16-24 become work ready. Working with a training provider you can design a traineeship programme to meet your needs. At the core is a work experience placement but you can include sessions looking expected behaviours, and support to achieve English and Maths.