Apprenticeships have changed! Apprenticeships | Kiran Kapur | 07 November 2018

If the word apprentice brings an image of young car mechanics, carpenters or even young Jedis, you are in for a surprise. Modern apprenticeships include Digital Marketers, PR Assistants and even degrees. 

In this series of articles, we will explain the new apprentice landscape. Part of the problem with the new apprenticeships, is that they are laden with jargon, so we will explain that as we go. 

Why have Apprenticeships changed?

There is a political concern about the skills and training of the UK workforce. It was decided that the old style apprenticeships were no longer providing suitable training for a modern workforce. It was also decided to open up apprenticeships to older workers, to wider professions and to higher levels, including degree levels. 

Who can be an Apprentice? 

This is one of the major changes to apprenticeships. Anyone can be an apprentice, so long as they need new knowledge and skills for their role. 

That makes the apprenticeships perfect for: 

  • New starters
  • Employees wanting to change roles
  • Returners to work after illness, or family commitments
  • Older employees who want to reskill for new roles

In a way, the word “apprentice” is off-putting. Think of it as a “Training Scheme.”


What is an Apprenticeship then?

Apprenticeships used to be based on Frameworks. New apprenticeships are based on Standards, which were designed by a group of employers, to make the skills learnt more appropriate to businesses. 

Jargon Buster!

Frameworks or standards:  
Previous apprenticeships involved a Framework, with a qualification at the end of the apprenticeship such as a City & Guilds qualification or an NVQ. Framework apprenticeships are ending, with the last intake 31 July 2020.  
New apprenticeships are based on a Standard. Each Standard was created by a group of employers (the Trailblazer Group) who decided the skills, knowledge and behaviours the apprentice should learn. This was put into a Standard which has to be approved by the Institute of Apprenticeships. As at October 2018, 358 standards had been approved, with another 219 in development.   

What is a Standard? 

A full list of the 358 approved standards can be found at the Institute of Apprenticeships.

For example:


Each standard has: 

A) A level e.g. Level 4

Level Equivalent to
2         GCSE
3         A Level 
4         1st Year degree 
5         Foundation degree
6         BA (Hons) degree
7         Master’s degree

B) A duration e.g. 15 months
C) A funding band. This is the total amount of money available for the apprenticeship. We will look at funding in more detail in a future blog
D)     the Standard code: eg ST0596

The details of the Standard will then lay out: 
E) The knowledge, skills & behaviours the apprentice will learn
F) The assessment details to successfully complete the apprenticeship


How does the Apprenticeship Work? 
The employer must commit to allowing an apprentice to have 20% off-the-job training time. For the remaining 80%, the apprentice works on a real job for the organisation. The apprentice has a manager and also a mentor to support and guide them. The training provider will monitor the apprentice's progress and keep you informed.

To start an apprenticeship, the steps are:

  1. You decide you have a real job that an apprentice can do.
  2. You choose the relevant standard.
  3. You choose a training provider. The training provider can help you to advertise the post on the 'recruit an apprentice' service.
  4. The apprentice works for you in their real job. You ensure a minimum 20% off-the-job training.
  5. The Training Provider will monitor the apprentice, keep you up to date with the apprentice’s progress. It will also arrange 3-way meetings with the apprentice, their mentor and the training provider to ensure the apprenticeship is going smoothly.
  6. If your apprentice does not have Maths and English at Level 2 (GCSE level), they will need to have this training as part of the apprenticeship. Your Training Provider can help.
  7. At the end of the apprenticeship, the apprentice will be assessed against the Standard and awarded a Certificate. 

How does the Assessment Work? 
At the end of the apprenticeship training period, the employer & training provider decide the apprentice is ready to be assessed. 
The apprentice has a set amount of time to complete the assessment tasks. These are assessed by an approved End Point Assessment Organisation and graded. 

What are the benefits of an Apprenticeship?
  • Give your new and existing employees the skills needed to grow your business
  • Help you recruit and retain talent in an increasingly competitive market
  • Reduce staff turnover and recruitment costs
  • Provide a recognised pathway for your current team to develop their careers with you
  • Establish your reputation as a respected and innovative employer. 

In the next articles, we look the assessment in more detail and how the money side works: including how much an employer pays, how much an apprentice earns and how much funding the government provides. We will also look at degree apprenticeships as an alternative to university.