5 things you need to know before employing an Apprentice

As an employer, there has never been a better time to take on an Apprentice with over half a million new starts last year. More companies are doing it than ever before as they see the added value to their company in the short term, the long term and for the Apprentice themselves. With the Apprenticeship Levy coming into effect from 1st May there are likely to be more starts yet to come. Here’s what you need to know before recruiting an Apprentice.

What is the Apprenticeship Levy?

The Apprenticeship Levy was introduced on 1st May to help increase Apprenticeship numbers and quality – delivering on the commitment that there will be 3 million additional Apprenticeship starts by 2020 – by putting you, the employer, at the heart of the system.

The Levy is set to be charged at a rate of 0.5% to all UK employers who have a total employee pay bill of over £3m with the purpose of increasing the quality and quantity of Apprenticeships in the UK.

The funds are saved to your Apprenticeship Service which you can access to fund an Apprentice through The Sheffield College.

What support do I need to give?


As with any new employee your Apprentice will need time to settle in and get up to speed with things so it is important you support them in settling in and throughout their programme.

Take time to welcome your Apprentice and try and help them to feel part of the team. It’s always worth an early meeting to pass on some advice for the job and lay any expectations out before them. Also try to align any work that your Apprentice does with their Individual Learning Plan (ILP) as this will help their development.

From there, ensure that you have regular reviews with your Apprentice and Assessor who can answer any questions you may have.

What are the benefits to us as a company?


No two businesses are the same. Industry is constantly changing and you have specific needs as an employer. As such, Apprenticeships are a great way of training employees to fit your company perfectly.

  • Apprentices are eager to learn. It’s an infectious exuberance which motivates the rest of your workforce and lowers staff turnover as 65% of employer retain their Apprentice
  • The most commonly reported benefit for employers of providing Apprenticeships was the development of skills relevant to the organisation (86%), with further benefits of improved productivity, better quality of product or service, and higher staff morale all highlighted by around three-quarters of employers
  • An Apprentice can be trained to meet the demands that you have thus closing or filling a skills gap within your business. 87% of all employer are satisfied with their Apprenticeship programme
  • 76% of employers report that Apprentices have improved productivity within their business. Figures suggest that Apprentices can boost productivity in your business by an average of £214 per week
  • 75% reported that Apprenticeships improved the quality of their product or service
  • Apprentices can bring fresh ideas to your business. They are also a generation brought up in the digital age so you can tap into those skills as well
  • 84% of employers who already offer Apprenticeships will continue to do so
  • Our internal recruitment service, Job Connect, will handle the whole recruitment process for you

How many hours a week do we have an Apprentice for?

Apprentices usually work for at least 30 paid hours a week within your business. You can embed them within your team however you see fit but typically the Apprentice must attend The Sheffield College for their training one day a week. The day they will attend The Sheffield College is set by us.

They must work for a minimum of 16 hours and no more than 40 paid hours.

How much do I need to pay my Apprentice?

From April 2017, if your Apprentice is aged 16-18 or 19+ and in the first year of their Apprenticeship, you must pay them a minimum of £3.50 an hour.

You must also offer Apprentices the same conditions as other employees working at similar grades or in similar roles. Including:

  • Paid holidays
  • Sick pay
  • Any benefits you offer such as childcare voucher schemes
  • Any support you offer such as coaching or mentoring

If you are considering adding an Apprentice to your team we can help support you through the process, including the recruitment process. Please email employer@sheffcol.ac.uk or give us a call 0114 260 2600.



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