Recruit an apprentice in England
On this page:
- What are apprenticeships?
- Financial support available to help
- Choosing the best people for your business
- How to hire an apprentice
- How to find the right training provider
- How to get support throughout an apprenticeship
There has never been a better time to take on an apprentice with support from CITB and the Government. The information below will tell you all you need to know about the process of hiring an apprentice, and how CITB can help you along the way.
An apprenticeship combines learning at a college or training provider with on-site experience to give apprentices the right mix of technical and practical skills to become a valuable and productive member of the team in any construction business.
Apprenticeships help future-proof the industry and provide an excellent way to secure a skilled, diverse future workforce.
“We have really been pleased at the quality of the apprentices and their levels of motivation and passion to learn.
I now feel that we are making a positive contribution to the future of the construction industry by enabling more on-site apprentices to develop and learn with us than we could ever have dreamed of.”
Shropshire Homes Ltd
What are apprenticeships?
An apprenticeship, which must last for a minimum of 12 months, combines hands-on work with the opportunity to train and obtain qualifications. Apprentices’ time is typically split with 20% at a training provider – such as a college – and the remaining 80% spent with the employer.
At the end of it, the apprentice gains official certification, which will be equivalent to traditional qualifications. The employer gains a dedicated, enthusiastic worker at a fraction of the cost of a typical member of staff – and likely a new employee too as the majority of apprentices stay with their employer after their apprenticeship.
There are four types or levels of apprenticeship available in England.
Employers should be clear about what level of apprenticeship is being offered to the apprentice. The information about the level is written down in the apprentice agreement signed by the employer, apprentice and learning provider.
Intermediate apprenticeships (Level 2)
An intermediate apprenticeship is the first step on the apprenticeship ladder, with no set entry requirements. It is equivalent to five good GCSE passes. They typically take 12 to 24 months to complete, split between 80% work and 20% study.
Advanced apprenticeships (Level 3)
An advanced apprenticeship is equivalent to two A Levels. Applicants should ideally have five GCSEs at grade 4 (formerly grade C) or above or have completed an intermediate apprenticeship. Advanced apprentices can work towards Level 3 work-based qualifications, such as a BTEC.
Higher apprenticeships (Level 4 and above)
Higher apprenticeships are programmes designed to meet employers’ needs at advanced skill levels and include qualifications at a level equivalent to higher education (HE). They can take up to five years to complete, and often specialise in management-based skills.
Degree apprenticeships (Level 6 – 7)
Degree apprenticeships typically last 3 to 6 years and are a popular training route in sectors such as architecture and civil engineering. Unlike other apprenticeships, employers work with universities rather than colleges. The universities will have set entry requirements for candidates.
Financial support available to help
Apprenticeships are a fantastic financial investment. An employee who has recently completed an apprenticeship increases productivity in their business by £214 per week.
Micro, small and medium-sized businesses can have up to 95% of their apprenticeship training costs covered by Government grants.
CITB financial support
We are here to support construction businesses of all sizes with training, recruitment and funding – ensuring apprenticeships continue to represent good value for money for employers.
Attendance and achievement grants
All construction companies who are registered with CITB, even those who do not pay the Levy, are eligible to receive:
- CITB attendance grant of £2,500 per apprentice per year
- CITB achievement grant of £3,500 per apprentice, awarded on successful completion of the apprenticeship.
If an apprentice completes a 3-year apprenticeship programme you will receive £11,000 in CITB grants alone.
Check if your apprenticeship is eligible for CITB grants here.
How to apply for apprenticeship grants
Full information on the rules for this grant, how to apply and which apprenticeships are covered can be found here:
Travel to Train
Additional funding is also available if your apprentice needs to travel to complete their qualification. We will fund 80% of accommodation costs for apprentices who attend colleges or training providers where overnight stays and travel to and from a hotel to a place of training are required.
In addition, employers can claim excess costs for apprentice travel where the cost exceeds £20 per week. (UPDATED)
- Travel grant is paid for travel to and from the college or training provider. Travel to and from an apprentice’s place of work is excluded
- Apprentices in accommodation are eligible for return travel costs to the accommodation from home for each period of training.
You can apply for this funding if you’re registered with us and your apprentice is eligible for apprentice attendance or Specialist Applied-skills Programme (SAP) grants.
Government financial support
Financial support from Government can help:
- To pay for apprenticeship training and assessment
- As an incentive payment for other costs.
The Apprenticeship Levy is a UK-wide employment tax. The Levy only applies if you have an annual pay bill of £3 million or more. It is charged at 0.5% of your annual pay bill.
If you do not need to pay the Apprenticeship Levy, you will only pay 5% towards the cost of training and assessing your apprentice – the Government will cover the rest (95%). This is paid directly to the training provider.
If you do pay the Apprenticeship Levy, you will receive funding to spend on training and assessing your apprentices. The Government will add 10%.
Transfer your Apprenticeship Levy
Employers who pay the Apprenticeship Levy and have unused funds can transfer up to 25% of their total annual funds to other employers. This can help small employers meet the 5% contribution of apprenticeship training.
If you don’t pay the Apprenticeship Levy, you can draw down 95% - sometimes 100% - of the training costs for an apprentice. This is on top of the CITB grants and Government incentives.
You can apply for an incentive payment of £1,000 for new apprentices who join your organisation.
To be eligible, the apprentice must either be:
- 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.
This £1,000 payment will be paid to your training provider, and you will receive it from them.
Apprenticeships are the ideal way to find and mould staff based on your business needs – but you need to choose the right apprentice for you.
As a business, you’re in the driving seat. You know the training and skills requirements to allow your business to grow, where the highest recruitment priorities lie and the value in finding the right fit for your business and team. We are here to help you find, recruit and train the ideal candidates.
Route to hiring an apprentice - England (PDF, 87KB)
When you’re looking for that ideal candidate, remember the three key benefits an apprenticeship can offer you:
- Attract and develop the best local talent
- Support existing staff gain the skills needed to move through your organisation
- Bring specialists into your company to grow and explore new markets.
“By offering training and progression to our apprentice we were able to give the opportunity of career development to a current employee who we knew to be reliable and had the necessary skills and experience for the role.”
Pave Aways Ltd
How to hire an apprentice
Finding and recruiting an apprentice can be simple – there’s six key steps: create an Apprenticeship Service account, pick a programme, find a training provider, advertise, interview and hire your apprentice.
If you need further support, our Customer Engagement team are on hand to help you every step of the way.
The Apprenticeship Service is the digital hub to manage all aspects of your apprenticeship, including funding, finding apprenticeships and training providers, recruiting apprentices and more.
An apprenticeship standard sets out the skills, knowledge and behaviours required of apprentices. They also show what an apprentice will be doing in their day-to-day job role.
To choose a standard, think about which skills and training would be beneficial to your business, or particular areas you want to expand.
The Institute for Apprenticeships has more information on apprenticeship standards.
Once you’ve picked a course, you need an organisation to deliver it.
The government’s online portal shows you the different training providers available for your course.
Our how to find the right training provider section gives you all the information you need.
Next, you’ll need to find the ideal candidate for your vacancy.
How to write an apprenticeship job advert
Before putting together an apprentice advert, here’s a few key things you’ll need to know:
- The advert name - this must relate to the apprenticeship training and use the word ‘apprentice’ or ‘apprenticeship’
- The training that the apprentice will take
- Training provider that will deliver the training
- Number of positions that are available
- Your organisation’s name, address and location
- The start date, application closing date and whether the job is disability confident
- Skills and duties required of the apprentice
- Duration of the apprenticeship and details of a typical working week
- Wage you will offer.
A great advert will promote your company and encourage the best people with the right skills and qualities to apply.
As well as the above, the key parts of an apprenticeship advert are the person specification and job description:
- A person specification should include essential and desirable knowledge criteria, previous experience and the specific skills you're looking for in the successful candidate
- A job description should include a job title, the main duties and purpose of the role, information about the company and the job location.
Download our apprenticeship advert template to get started
How to advertise your vacancy
All apprenticeship opportunities can now be managed through Talentview Construction – the new, one-stop-shop for career starters, giving access to not only apprenticeships, but traineeships, work experience, entry level job and training opportunities too.
You will need to continue to upload their vacancies via your National Apprenticeship Service account and these will appear on Talentview. Individuals can apply via the Talentview portal or upload their CVs for you to search for them.
While hiring an apprentice can be a relatively similar process to recruiting any other member of staff – the interviews can be quite different.
Traditional job interviews are all about evaluating interviewees’ experience, skills and pre-existing knowledge, whereas interviewing an apprentice is about understanding their potential.
When recruiting for an apprentice, it’s important to remember that this could be a candidate’s very first interview. You’ll need to take a flexible approach – focus on their enthusiasm and desire to learn, and whether their motivations and attitude aligns with your business.
With this in mind, here’s some example interview questions you could ask them:
- Why have you chosen the apprenticeship route?
- Why are you passionate about this job?
- Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
- What accomplishment are you most proud of and why?
- Apprenticeships are made up a job and study, how would you manage your time?
- Why do you want to work here?
- Have you got any experience – either at work or school – in this type of role?
- Describe a problem or challenge you’ve had to deal with
- What do you understand about what we do here?
For more advice on interviewing and recruiting apprentices the right way, the Supply Chain Sustainability School’s Recruiting People, Fairly and Inclusively module tells you everything you need to know.
Once you’ve chosen the best person for your business, you’ll need to sign an apprentice agreement with them – which acts as a contract between the employer and apprentice.
This covers the length of employment, the training provided, their working conditions and the qualifications they will be working towards.
Congratulations, you’ve got a new apprentice!
Starting an apprenticeship can be both exciting and daunting, especially if it’s their first experience in the world of work. Help them to feel included in the team and make sure they’re familiar with their training course and what’s expected of them.
The Supply Chain Sustainability School (SCSS) provide a suite of free Fairness, Inclusion & Respect (FIR) resources which aim to make the workplace better for everyone.
They help employers embed diversity into construction businesses and recruit the fair way. The free resources, training and guidance not only help companies become more innovative by addressing workplace challenges, but increase their profitability too by helping attract and retain workers from a wider pool of talent.
“The degree apprenticeship programme has been an important part of staff training and development.
Once our apprentice has completed their programme, we would hope to be in a position to employ another Graduate Apprentice, as we grow and develop our existing workforce.”
P&M Sinclair Ltd
How to find the right training provider
Apprenticeship training needs three parties: the person doing the apprenticeship, the employer and a Government-approved apprenticeship training provider.
The key to successful apprenticeships is to find the right training provider(s). There are hundreds of private training companies, colleges and universities approved by Government to provide the off-the-job training on apprenticeships.
It’s crucial to choose a provider that understands your ambitions for the business and knows how to get you to where you want to be.
To choose a training provider, use the Government's find apprenticeship training service.
The service allows you to:
- Choose an apprenticeship training course
- Choose a course at the right level and skills
- Check the availability of training providers at the apprenticeship location
- View employer reviews
- Share your interest in an apprenticeship training course with all training providers.
Your training provider doesn’t have to be located near you as many are national and offer training at your workplace and online.
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
- Their trainers have the relevant expertise to train your staff
- They will tailor the training to suit your business and individual staff members
- You are satisfied with the provider’s achievement and satisfaction rates
- They are clear about what’s expected from you as the employer.
Ask the training provider questions - get them to help!
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. If you have any questions, ask them.
If you’re still not sure, you can contact us.
Your training provider can help you:
- Find the right training
- Interview and recruit apprentices
- Help prepare your apprentice for the workplace
- Make sure your apprentice is learning the relevant skills for your business.
Ultimately, training is their business – their reputation is on the line. The right provider will walk you through the process and explore who will deliver each aspect of training. Then they will create and deliver a training programme that meets the needs of your organisation and your staff.
It is important to keep in contact with the training provider to ensure your apprentice is progressing well. They will be on hand to offer support and advice throughout.
End point assessment
End point assessments are the final stage of an apprenticeship. It is an impartial assessment of whether your apprentice has developed the skills, knowledge and behaviours outlined in the apprenticeship standard.
Employers need to continually offer opportunities for the apprentice to practice and develop workplace skills on the job to give their apprentice the best possible chance of passing their end point assessment.
Preparation for end point assessment works in a very similar way to preparing for a driving test: individuals need to continually practice tasks to improve their competence and confidence.
Once all elements of the apprenticeship are completed, and the apprentice passes their end point assessment, they will receive their apprenticeship certificate.
The assessments are carried out by end point assessment organisations (EPAO). You must decide which EPAO will conduct the assessment, however you can seek advice from your training provider about which EPAO would be the best fit.
We provide the best practical support to make everything as simple as possible for you and your apprentice.
We can help with costs, advice and assistance by assigning one of our advisers to make your experience a successful one.
We recognise one of the biggest barriers preventing SMEs from hiring apprentices is often a lack of time – this is why our Customer Engagement Team are on hand to help you find talented candidates, assist with organising training and take care of the paperwork.
Just some of the support we can offer you includes:
- Advising on the entry requirements for an apprenticeship
- Advising and signposting to the appropriate apprenticeship standard to best suit the needs of your business
- Helping with the requirement to set up and reserve funds through your Apprenticeship Service account
- Advising on what apprenticeship grants are available including government incentives, as well as any local initiatives
- Providing guidance and support on completion of grant claims forms, including how to submit and claim grant
- Assisting you on deadlines for submission of grant claims forms to avoid rejections, and if required, providing information on the appeals process
- Finding and providing introductions to the training providers in your local area
- Supporting with claiming achievement grant on completion of the apprenticeship.
Contact the Customer Engagement team and we’ll put you in touch with a local adviser. We are here to support you and help your business grow firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, find your local adviser below:
“We’re firm believers in apprenticeships at V&C. Apprentices are our future and will help the business grow and become stronger.
It’s been a simple process. The website is quick and easy to use and I can get through to the helpline straight away.”