Gone are the days when apprentices were doing manual labour such as a car mechanic, earning a pittance. Since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in 2017, more and more organisations are able to offer apprenticeships alongside a proper salary. The levy has meant that there is lots more money available for employees to access training and development opportunities, because all organisations across the country with an annual payroll figure above £3 million have to contribute, whether or not they are offering apprenticeships.
There are a lot of things the levy pot can be used for and a lot of employees where I work are upskilling themselves using this pot, and of course there are some people employed specifically as an apprentice, but it might mean you are studying alongside people who have worked for the same company as you for some time. Through the Apprenticehip Levy programme, you can access a wide range of qualifications at different levels, across lots of different subjects. Some apprenticeship programmes are at level 2,3 or 4, and some are able to offer degree apprenticeships, so a wide range of subjects and levels are available.
How do apprenticeships work?
As an apprentice you are doing the job you are employed to do and you are employed as an employee and have the same rights as others though (such as annual leave and sick pay). You will be learning on the job, but you also receive 20% of your time out of the workplace receiving training and development. This includes things like training and lectures. Some providers like to do it one day a week, and some prefer to do block release. Your employer will probably have a preference or be able to agree this with the provider as part of the delivery contract.
This is to ensure that all areas of the programme are covered in order to meet the learning objectives of the course. You will have study to do between the blocks or days and this time helps to make up the 20% off the job training required as part of the apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships are work based and you will have a tutor or assessor visit and support you and you may be taught by them or you may attend training elsewhere. As part of passing the standards and qualification your employer would be contacted to write about your performance in the role. Each programme is different and will be assess in different ways, so I won’t go too much into the detail of the assessment process but some of the most common assessment methods are by creating and updating a portfolio (so keeping evidence throughout the time you are on the programme that you are completing objectives or demonstrating skills or knowledge), you might to pass an exam, there might be a project, and some programmes involve a face to face interview. Throughout the time on the programme, your assessor would help you work towards completing all your goals and targets so you don’t need to worry about any of them.
If you’d like to know more about apprenticeships, or becoming an apprentice, check out the gov.uk’s Apprenticeship Guide.