Hiring an apprentice: The benefits for a small company

Hiring an apprentice is becoming an increasingly popular way for young people to enter the working world, allowing them to learn a trade and gain valuable on-the-job experience whilst earning a wage.

You can employ apprentices at different levels, from school leavers and university graduates, to people who want to further their careers or change career direction completely.

You can hire someone new or upskill an existing employee.

And it’s not just the apprentices who benefit. Hiring an apprentice also brings numerous advantages for companies participating in such schemes, making them a great investment.

Hiring an apprentice – 4 benefits for a small business

#1 – A committed workforce

One of the biggest benefits of running an apprenticeship scheme is that it helps create a dedicated, loyal workforce. The majority of apprentices are young school or college leavers, meaning that they have lots of energy with which to learn the ways of your business as you help them climb the career ladder within your organisation.

Eighty-six per cent of employers said apprenticeships helped them develop skills relevant to their organisation, according to the government Apprenticeships website.

#2 – Bridging the skills gap

Many companies, particularly those within technology, find it tough to recruit people with the particular skills they need to help move their business forward.

Taking on an apprentice solves this problem as you can hire someone with the enthusiasm and talent you are looking for and train them up for a specific role.

#3 – A fresh perspective

Apprentices may not have any actual workplace experience, but they can offer a fresh perspective and new ideas, which are just as valuable to a growing business. Young people often have strong technology skills that come from using computers and tools such as social media from an early age, and they can use this knowledge to build competitive advantage.

#4 – Improving the bottom line

The cost of funding an apprentice may put some employers off, but, in reality, apprentices often pay for themselves within a few years and can improve a company’s bottom line by improving effectivity and boosting productivity.

  • 78 per cent of employers said apprenticeships helped them improve productivity
  • 74 per cent of employers said apprenticeships helped them improve the quality of their product or service

The initial outlay of hiring an apprentice is often smaller than many companies think, thanks to government funding and the fact that they are paid a reduced wage. A UK Commission on Employment study found that 88 per cent of employers felt apprenticeships were a cost-effective way to train staff.

And, according to the National Audit Office, every pound spent on apprentices pays back £18 to the economy.

Hiring an apprentice – financial incentives

Employers who hire a new apprentice between 1 August 2020 and 31 January 2021 can claim financial incentives from the government.

This is to help businesses and the economy recover from the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

For apprentices aged:

  • 16 to 24, you’ll receive £2,000
  • 25 and over, you’ll receive £1,500

This payment is in addition to the existing £1,000 you’ll already get for taking on an apprentice who is:

  • aged 16 to 18 years old
  • under 25 and has an education, health and care plan or has been in the care of their local authority

>See also: Sunak decides whether to subsidise small businesses hiring young people

How to choose the right apprenticeship training

First, you’ll need to find apprenticeship training and choose a training provider.

There are hundreds of apprenticeships to choose from. They offer flexible, but structured training, that meet your needs as an employer.

Apprenticeships are designed by groups of employers, so they reflect the knowledge, skills and behaviours an apprentice needs for a specific occupation.

Apprentices can be a new or existing employee and they must:

  • Be 16 or over
  • Combine work with study to gain skills and knowledge in a specific job
  • Spend at least 20 per cent of their working hours on “off-the-job” training with your chosen training provider

What should I look for?

Apprenticeships are being developed and approved all the time, so you can choose the right apprenticeship training for your business.

When looking for an apprenticeship, make sure you:

  • Select the right training to suit your business
  • Think about the level and duration of the training
  • Discuss your expectations with the training provider

Hiring an apprentice – choose a training provider

Once you’ve decided on the type of apprenticeship your business needs, you’ll need to choose a training provider to train your apprentice.

Find apprenticeship training lets you search for:

  • Apprenticeship training by job role or keyword
  • Training providers

You can also do a postcode search for providers. Your training provider doesn’t have to be located near you as many are national and can offer training at your workplace and online.

Find apprenticeship training shows you:

  • The percentage of apprentices that have passed their apprenticeship with the training provider
  • Employer and learner satisfaction ratings
  • Strengths
  • Things to improve

Things to consider

Choosing a training provider that’s right for your business is really important.

Consider things like:

  • How well they communicate with you about the training
  • What other employers say about them
  • What apprentices say about them

>See also: How to introduce a health and safety apprenticeship to the workplace

Working with your training provider

Your training provider can provide you with as much help and support as you need when you take on an apprentice.

It’s up to you how you work together. Just ask them any questions you have.

Your training provider can help you:

  • Find the right training
  • Recruit and interview apprentices
  • Prepare your apprentice for the workplace
  • Make sure your apprentice is working in an appropriate environment
  • Make sure your apprentice is learning the relevant skills for your business

Create an apprenticeship service account

Create an apprenticeship service account so you can:

  • Access and manage apprenticeship funding
  • Set up and approve apprentices
  • Advertise roles on the find an apprenticeship service
  • Approve training costs
  • Check payments to training providers
  • Give training providers permission to carry out some tasks on your behalf
  • Give feedback on apprenticeship training

Create an account

Before you create an account, you’ll need:

  • An email address
  • Permission to add PAYE schemes to the account
  • Permission to accept the employer agreement on behalf of your organisation
  • You’ll also need either the Government Gateway login for your organisation, or your accounts office reference number and employer PAYE scheme reference number

Advertise your apprenticeship

Next, you’ll need to advertise your apprenticeship. You can do this using the recruit an apprentice service.

These opportunities will be advertised on find an apprenticeship.

When advertising, be as clear as possible so candidates can quickly understand whether the apprenticeship is right for them.

You can manage the recruitment process or ask your training provider to manage it on your behalf.

An apprentice must:

  • Be 16 or over
  • Not already be in full-time education
  • Be living in England

There are other ways to find an apprentice to increase the diversity of your applicants. For example you could:

  • Hold open days
  • Arrange visits to schools, colleges and universities
  • Use social media
  • Participate in careers events, such as WorldSkills UK Live

Training your apprentice

During their apprenticeship, your apprentice will receive two different types of training.

►“Off-the-job” training is delivered by a training provider during your apprentice’s normal working hours. This training will teach your apprentice the knowledge, skills and behaviours set out in the apprenticeship standard so they can achieve occupational competence.

►“On-the-job” training will be delivered by you, as the employer. You’ll need to give your apprentice training and supervision to help them perform the job you’ve hired them for.

Off-the-job training

Apprentices must spend at least 20 per cent of their working hours completing off-the-job training.

It can be flexible and doesn’t have to mean one day out of the workplace every week.

For example, training could take place:

  • Online
  • At the apprentice’s place of work
  • At a college or university or with a training provider
  • Or it could be a combination of these options

The frequency can vary, for example:

  • One day a week
  • Part of a working day
  • Blocks of time

For instance, some apprenticeships begin with a block of training to get the apprentice ready for work.

You can agree a suitable training schedule to suit the needs of your business with your training provider.

English and maths

Your apprentice may also need to study for maths and English qualifications as part of their apprenticeship.

You must allow your apprentice time to study for this within their normal working hours.

Studying for English and maths is not counted as part of the 20 per cent minimum off-the-job training requirement.

An apprenticeship agreement

You must sign an apprenticeship agreement with your apprentice.

This gives details of what you agree to do for the apprentice, including:

  • How long you’ll employ them for
  • Training they’ll receive
  • Working conditions
  • Qualifications they are working towards

Apprenticeship commitment statement

You must also sign an apprenticeship commitment statement with your apprentice and the training provider.

This must include:

  • Planned content and schedule for training
  • What is expected and offered by the employer, the training organisation and the apprentice
  • How to resolve queries or complaints

End-point assessment

End-point assessment (EPA) is an assessment of the knowledge, skills and behaviours that your apprentice has learned throughout an apprenticeship, which confirms that they are occupationally competent.

Assessments have been designed by employers in the sector and are conducted by independent bodies known as end-point assessment organisations (EPAOs).

You must select an EPAO as soon as possible at the beginning of the apprenticeship.

The apprentice will only get their apprenticeship certificate after they have passed all the elements of their EPA, including any required standards in English and maths.

Finding an end-point assessment organisation

You can find a suitable EPAO for your apprenticeship using the register of end-point assessment organisations.

You should agree a price with the EPAO for the assessment and then your training provider must contract with them on your behalf within three months of the apprenticeship starting.

According to Apprenticeships.gov.uk, the cost of end-point assessment should not usually exceed 20 per cent of the funding band maximum for the apprenticeship.

What does assessment involve?

Each apprenticeship includes an end-point assessment plan, which describes how the apprentice should be tested against appropriate criteria, using suitable methods. For example, your apprentice may need to complete:

  • A practical assessment
  • An interview
  • A project
  • Written and/or multiple-choice tests
  • A presentation

It is worth getting in touch with your EPAO early on in the apprenticeship to check what the assessment involves.

This will give your apprentice plenty of time to prepare. For example, they may need to gather evidence to show how they’ve been working towards the core knowledge, skills and behaviours required.


When your apprentice successfully completes their apprenticeship and passes their EPA, they’ll be awarded a certificate.

The EPAO will request this certificate on your behalf.

For some apprenticeships, passing the EPA and completing the apprenticeship will also lead to professional recognition by an authorised body. This is outlined in the apprenticeship details on the find apprenticeship training.

This article was originally published in July 2013 and has subsequently been updated with public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

Further reading on hiring an apprentice

How to set up an apprenticeship scheme at your small business

Comments are closed.