Apprenticeships offer a more formal, nationally recognised form of work-based training that involves the assessment of skills and knowledge and the achievement of accredited qualifications. Apprenticeship frameworks are owned by Sector
Skills Councils and are developed in close collaboration with industry. The Frameworks contain a number of mandatory components, including a competence-based element, a knowledge-based element, transferable or ‘key’ skills and employer rights and responsibilities. Learning takes place in the workplace and at a college or training provider, and can be assessed both on and off the job.
Apprentices must have a contract of employment and receive a wage for the duration of their Apprenticeship. Minimum wage rules do not apply to all stages of an apprenticeship. 16-18 year olds are exempt from the National Minimum Wage and apprentices over the age of 19 are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage until the second year of their Apprenticeships. However, research shows that average apprentice wages across all sectors approximate to the age-related National Minimum Wage, and many employers increase wages as the apprentice develops skills. If the apprentice is eligible, the college or training provider can attract public funding to pay for the learning and assessment time. The time it takes to complete an Apprenticeship varies, depending on the actual Framework and the delivery model agreed between the employer and the provider, but generally can last for 12 to 18 months.
On completion, apprentices receive an Apprenticeship Certificate, in addition to the certification of the component qualifications from the relevant awarding body. It is intended that progression from an Apprenticeship is directly into employment in the sector. However, Advanced Apprenticeships can also support progression into Higher Education.
Additionally, some big companies run their own specially designed apprenticeships. These are bespoke work-based training schemes which are developed with or by the employer that offers them. They differ to national Apprenticeships in that they are not formally approved by the relevant Sector Skills Council and do not necessarily comply with the conditions for Apprenticeship approval. In the case of apprenticeship-type schemes, the salary and duration are agreed between the employer and the individual and the placement is designed to lead directly in to full-time employment within the company.
NB. Awaiting confirmation of Apprenticeship structure in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.