Apprenticeship myths

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This web page addresses some of the common myths surrounding apprenticeships and provides advice to support trusts to overcome them.

“We’re too busy to look after them.”

Apprentices may need some additional support, however, if planned right from the outset, you can minimise the impact this has on team resources. Short-term additional support will deliver long-term benefits and help staff feel valued and committed to the organisation.

Supporting apprentices, particularly apprentices with learning disabilities or difficulties, can save time overall because tasks must be broken down into smaller parts to help the apprentice learn what to do. Breaking the task down makes it easier to identify where improvements to the process can be made which can help to save time in the long term.

Mentoring or supervising apprentices also provides a development opportunity for existing staff. Time given to support apprentices in the initial stages will reap rewards later on and help apprentices get up to speed more quickly. All new employees, regardless of whether or not they are an apprentice, require an induction and all staff should receive training and development suitable for the job role.

All staff should receive ongoing support from their line manager. Appraisals and one to one meetings can be a useful place to discuss support and, if they have declared a disability, any workplace adjustments. If they have not declared a disability, apprentices may find this space useful to have wider discussion about any support they may need. Find out more about supporting disabled apprentices on our website.

“They’ll spend too much time away from the workplace.”

The amount of time an apprentice needs to attend college or other external training sessions varies from programme to programme. The majority of apprenticeship training takes place in the workplace, with some sessions delivered by a college or learning provider. Depending on the type of role this could just be one day per week or a block release. This can be planned to take account of the needs of the organisation.

“We have no vacancies.”

NHS organisations should consider vacancies in Agenda for Change bands 1 to 4 as potential apprenticeship opportunities where appropriate.

Roles that can be undertaken as an apprenticeship range from administrator to laboratory assistant, receptionist to IT analyst. Apprenticeship standards have been published for a range of roles that are relevant to and support the health sector including, healthcare science assistants, healthcare support workers, and assistant practitioners. For more information visit our dedicated apprenticeship standards web page.


"Young people can't get a disclosure and barring service (DBS) check if they are under 18."

To ascertain whether a DBS check is required for an apprentice, you should carry out a risk assessment as you would for any other member of NHS staff. DBS checks can be obtained from the age of 16, although sometimes young people may struggle to provide the required evidence of identity (eg passport, driving licence, bank account).

To ensure the application is not held up, it may be advisable to provide young people with some additional support when completing the application. Training providers who are familiar with the process for this age group may be able advise you on this.

"NHS staff supervising apprentices under the age of 18 need to have DBS check."

As apprentices are employed, there is no requirement for NHS staff supervising them to have a DBS check. However, it is good practice to ensure that in the initial stages, new apprentices receive adequate support and that those with line management responsibility have the appropriate skills and qualities to support an apprentice in their new role.

"The employer needs to be able to guarantee a job at the end of an apprenticeship."

All apprentices should be employed for the duration of the apprenticeship and the standard selected for the apprenticeship should be role specific. Their employment can be either on a fixed-term or permanent basis.

 It is mandatory for apprenticeships to:

  • last a minimum of 12 months, regardless of age or prior experience
  • include some off the job training, which can be delivered either on or off-site.
Employers do not have to guarantee a job on completion of the apprenticeship if the apprentice is on a fixed-term contract.

"Apprentices need to be employed for a minimum of 30 hours."

Employment must be for at least 30 hours per week, except in the minority of circumstances where the learner cannot complete the full 30 hours. In these cases, employment must be for more than 16 hours per week and the duration should be amended accordingly.

Further information on apprenticeships is available across our website and on the GOV.UK website. You may also find it helpful to take a look at the Not going to uni website, which helps bust some of the misconceptions that individuals considering an apprenticeship may have.

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