An apprenticeship is a job with training. 

Through an apprenticeship, an apprentice will gain the technical knowledge, practical experience and wider skills and behaviours that they need for their immediate job and future career. 

The apprentice gains this through formal off-the-job training and the opportunity to practise these new skills in a real work environment (on-the-job training).

The job must have a productive purpose and you must provide the apprentice with the appropriate support and supervision to carry out their job role and their apprenticeship. This includes the opportunity to embed and consolidate the knowledge, skills and behaviours gained through apprenticeship off-the-job training into the workplace.

An apprenticeship includes a practical period of work and training that lasts for a minimum duration of 12 months. This includes where the content, duration and price has been adjusted to recognise prior learning. For example, to satisfy this requirement, an apprentice who starts their training on 1 August 2020 must still be receiving training on 31 July 2021. The apprentice must be involved in active learning throughout an apprenticeship.

The standard specification or assessment plan may require this practical period of training to be longer to support the delivery of the full apprenticeship content. The end-point assessment can only be taken after the minimum duration has been met. You must confirm this as part of the gateway checks.

The minimum duration of each apprenticeship is based on the apprentice working at least 30 hours a week, including any off-the-job training they undertake. Please note: Working fewer than 30 hours a week, or being on a zero-hours contract must not be a barrier to successfully completing an apprenticeship.

You have access to a free tool to help you recruit new apprentices into your business please refer to the following links for more information:

You and EDLounge (your training provider) must conduct an initial assessment screening to include Maths and English Initial and diagnostic assessments, in line with the proposed apprenticeship agreement.

Your initial assessment must show that:

  1. The individual requires significant new knowledge, skills and behaviours to be occupationally competent in the job role
  2. The required training meets the funding rules relating to the minimum duration of the practical period
  3. You are satisfied that the apprenticeship is the most appropriate training programme for the individual; and the training programme aligns with an approved apprenticeship standard, at the most appropriate level, and recognition of prior learning has taken place

The approved apprenticeship agreement must set out:

  1. The apprentice’s details (name, occupation, place of work)
  2. The apprenticeship standard and level being followed
  3. The start and end date of the apprenticeship (this includes end-point assessment EPA)
  4. The start and end date of the practical period (this excludes EPA) 
  5. The duration of the practical period
  6. The amount of time the apprentice will spend in off-the-job training

The practical period start date set out in the apprenticeship agreement must match the practical period start date in the commitment statement and the start date in the Individual Learner Record (ILR).

Please note: If the apprenticeship agreement is incomplete and/or does not meet the statutory requirements the individual will not have a valid agreement and will not be eligible to receive funding. The signed apprenticeship agreement must be distributed to both signatories (you and the apprentice) and you must keep a copy of this in the evidence pack, along with any revisions.

Apprentice wages

Every apprentice must be paid a lawful wage for the time they are in work and in off-the-job training.

You must meet the cost of the apprentice’s wages. Where you are using the apprenticeship minimum wage you must only do so from the start of the apprenticeship programme and not before.

You can find further information on apprentice wages here: National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates - GOV.UK

Off-the-Job Training

Off-the-job training is a statutory requirement for an apprenticeship. It is training which is received by the apprentice, during the apprentice’s normal working hours, for the purpose of achieving the knowledge, skills and behaviours of the approved apprenticeship referenced in the apprenticeship agreement. By normal working hours we mean the hours for which the apprentice would normally be paid, excluding overtime. 

Please note: It is not on-the-job training which is training received by the apprentice for the sole purpose of enabling the apprentice to perform the work for which they have been employed. By this we mean training that does not specifically link to the knowledge, skills and behaviours of the apprenticeship.

Off-the-job training must deliver new skills that are directly relevant to the apprenticeship. It can include the following:

  • The teaching of theory (for example, lectures, role-playing, simulation exercises, online learning, and manufacturer training);
  • Practical training, shadowing, mentoring, industry visits, and participation in competitions; or learning support and time spent writing assessments/assignments

Off-the-job training does not include:

  • Training to acquire knowledge, skills and behaviours that are not required in the apprenticeship standard;
  • Progress reviews or on-programme assessment required for an apprenticeship standard; or
  • Training which takes place outside the apprentice’s normal working hours.  

It is up to you to decide how the off-the-job training is delivered. It can include training that is delivered at the apprentice’s normal place of work. It can also include regular day release, block release and special training days/workshops. The number of planned off-the-job training hours, for the full apprenticeship, must be documented on the apprenticeship agreement and the commitment statement. These must be separate documents.

Since 1 August 2019 planned off-the-job training hours must also be documented on the individualised learner record. You or the provider must not change this figure once submitted.

From 1 August 2020, actual off-the-job training hours should be documented on the ILR at the end of the practical period.

Evidence must be available to support the delivery of the planned off-the-job training that is set out in the apprentice’s commitment statement.

If planned off-the-job training is unable to take place as scheduled, you must ensure this is re-arranged so that the full complement of training set out in the commitment statement can still be delivered. All off-the-job training must take place during normal working hours.

What is the Apprenticeship Gateway?

In the world of apprenticeship standards, the gateway is the door between the two core stages of the apprenticeship. At the gateway, the employer (often in consultation with the apprenticeship provider) unlocks the door because they believe the apprentice is competent in their job and ready and able to prove it.

The Gateway ensures that all apprentices have completed the mandatory aspects of the occupational standard and any work that underpins specified assessment methods and that employers believe an apprentice is occupationally competent at the point they enter the gateway.

Employers have an important role in assessing competency and they have a key responsibility at the gateway in signing off the apprentice as ready to undertake End Point Assessment known as EPA. it is not seen however as appropriate for employers to be directly involved in EPA assessment methods because their independence is compromised. 

What is meant by End Point Assessment (EPA)?

The EPA takes place with an independent End Point Assessment Organisation (EAPO) when all the on-programme training has been completed and after the gateway has been passed. It should only start once the employer is confident that the apprentice is occupationally competent, that is, they are deemed to be working at or above the level set out in the occupational standard and ready to undertake an EPA. The employer may seek input from the apprentice’s training provider(s) in making this decision, but the decision must ultimately rest with the employer.

The EPA plan must set out any gateway requirements to be completed or achieved before an apprentice can undertake an EPA. This section of your EPA plan must cover:

  • minimum English and mathematics requirements
  • mandatory qualifications detailed in the occupational standard
  • any requirements or outputs that underpin an assessment method – for example, if a portfolio demonstrating particular aspects of the occupational standard is used to support a presentation in the EPA, you must make it clear that this portfolio should be completed prior to the gateway and what it should contain.

Commitment to Delivering and Supporting the Apprenticeship 

Before the apprenticeship practical period starts and before the apprenticeship agreement is signed, you as the employer and the apprentice must have contributed to and signed a copy of the commitment statement (often known as the individual learning plan). This must set out how all parties (you as the employer and as the main provider) and the apprentice will support the achievement of the apprenticeship.

The commitment statement and apprenticeship agreement must be separate documents.

The commitment statement must be kept up to date with any material changes (e.g. as a result of changes agreed at a progress review).

All parties must keep a current signed and dated version of the commitment statement. You must keep your version (and previous versions) in the evidence pack with the apprenticeship agreement. 

EDLounge looks forward to working with you and the apprentice to successfully achieve all our combined objectives.

Sources of Further information: Find an Apprenticeship - GOV.UK Employing an Apprentice - GOV.UK

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