Apprenticeship FAQs

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This section includes FAQs for the areas listed below.

Employing apprentices

What is an apprenticeship?
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. Find out more on our dedicated NHS Apprenticeship section.

Is there a limit to the number of apprentices an employer can have?
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.

How do I get managers on board with apprenticeships?
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 section we outline the benefits that apprentices can bring to your organisation which may help you to build a case. 

What employment contracts do apprentices need?
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.

Can I recruit apprentices from outside the UK?
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.

Do apprentices have to be employed full time?
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.

What do I do if an apprentice goes on maternity leave or long-term sick leave?
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.

Is there independent mental health support available for apprentices?
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

Do I have to pay National insurance contributions for an apprentice?
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.

Is there any guidance to ensure consistency in employment?
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.

Read the Staff Council guidance on Apprenticeships in the NHS

Don’t apprentices need a lot of support?
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.

Do staff supervising apprentices under the age of 18 need to have DBS check?
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. 

Training and assessment

Can apprentices work in different departments as part of their 20 per cent off-the-job training?
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.

Read how Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust has embedded off-the-job training

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

Can we choose which training provider to use?
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.

I have a member of staff who already has prior learning, could this be used towards their apprenticeship?

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.

End-point assessments (EPA)
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.

Can an employer become a training provider?
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. 

Where can I check whether the apprenticeships I want are available?
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.

What if the apprenticeship I want is not available?
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.


Are apprentices eligible for widening access training schemes? 

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.

How can I use the levy to support our wider workforce strategy?
Effective workforce planning will help you to identify where apprenticeships can support your workforce strategy and fill some of your skills gaps. Our webpage on strategic planning contains guidance and a range of resources that can help develop an effective workforce strategy.

If you are looking to introduce the nursing associate role, our employer guide includes a section on how workforce planning can help to introduce the role and includes links to some useful resources. 

We aren’t forecasted to allocate all of our levy, how can it be used to support my wider health economy?
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.

Where can I work out the potential costs of the apprenticeships I want to deliver?
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.

Is there any financial assistance for apprentices who need additional support?
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.

We are thinking of becoming a training provider. Is there any financial support to do this?
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

Is there any support for procuring a training provider

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.

How do I transfer levy to another employer?
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.  

How can I maximise the levy when I am limited by the number of vacancies I can recruit to?
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.

Is there any advice available on how to market NHS apprenticeships?
There are a range of free resources for engaging a variety of audiences about apprenticeships available at Our employing young people web pages have a range of resources, including three digital toolkits, to help you engage with 16-24 year olds.

How can traineeships help?
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. You can find more information on our traineeship web page. 

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