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Welsh apprenticeships are changing. From September 2022 some construction apprenticeships in Wales will be different and employers in Wales will have an enhanced role in their delivery.

Employers will be encouraged to recruit apprentices directly from full-time provision and also take a greater role in signing off their competency at the end of their course.

More information

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.

“Apprenticeships are vital to the future success of our industry as they provide young people with the skills and qualifications they need to progress.

The combination of on-the-job training and classroom learning has a proven track record for success.”

Anwyl Homes

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.

Apprenticeship levels

There are four types or levels of apprenticeship available in Wales.

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

Foundation apprenticeships (Level 2)

A foundation 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.

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 a foundation apprenticeship. Apprentices can work towards Level 3 work-based qualifications, such as a BTEC.

Higher apprenticeships (Level 4 - 5)

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.

You can find out more about apprenticeships on Go Construct.

Go Construct

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.

To receive CITB financial support, you must use an approved apprenticeship training provider that has a direct contract with the Welsh Government.

Find an approved apprenticeship training provider.

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 could 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:

CITB apprentice grants

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.

  • 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.

Travel to Train

Government financial support

Financial support from Government can help:

  • To support apprenticeship training and assessment
  • As an incentive payment for other costs.

Incentive payment for employing disabled people

  • £2,000 for each new apprentice recruited
  • Payments are restricted to 10 learners per business
  • Incentives do not apply to degree apprenticeships.

The payments will be paid to your training provider, and you will receive it from them.

Government incentives

Choosing the best people for your business

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 - Wales

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 help you advertise, manage and track your vacancies, as well as help you recruit an apprentice.

All apprentices in Wales will follow an approved Apprenticeship Framework. They ensure an apprentice has the relevant knowledge, skills and qualifications.

Frameworks set out the entry requirements, levels available and progression opportunities, examples of job roles, qualifications gained after successful completion of the apprenticeship, length of time it will take to complete and any additional learning available.

To choose a Framework, think about which skills and training would be beneficial to your business, or particular areas you want to expand.

The Welsh Government has more information on Apprenticeship Frameworks.

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 vacancies in Wales are managed through the Apprenticeship Vacancy Service. It is designed to:

  • Help you advertise, manage and track your vacancies
  • Help you recruit an apprentice
  • Allow future apprentices to search for vacancies.

It features an interactive dashboard allowing you to keep track of vacancies and applications, as well as employer profiles to give potential applicants a snapshot of your business.

You can either use the service’s forms or our template to advertise your vacancies.

The service is fully bilingual, allowing you to upload opportunities in Welsh or English.

Advertise your vacancy.

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 apprenticeship learning agreement with them – which acts as a contract between the employer, training provider and apprentice.

It is the responsibility of the training provider to arrange the apprenticeship learning agreement.

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.

Supply Chain Sustainability School

“It is important to B Price that we recruit the right people into our business, we support them in every way that we can, we offer first class on site training for all of our employees and ensure that we keep up with the ever changing health and safety requirements.

By hiring apprentices we retain good staff and the business benefits from having reliable and committed personnel whose work always meets the highest standards.”

B Price 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 is a network of Work Based Learning (WBL) training providers approved by the Government across Wales.

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 WBL training provider, use the SkillsGateway apprenticeship training service.

Find apprenticeship training

The service allows you to:

  • Choose an apprenticeship training course
  • Choose a course at the right level and skills
  • Check the availability of WBL training providers at the apprenticeship location
  • View employer reviews
  • Share your interest in an apprenticeship training course with all WBL training providers.

Your WBL 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
  • Recognition of their quality through external awards
  • The WBL provider’s last Estyn report
  • 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.

How to get support throughout an apprenticeship

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 customerengagement@citb.co.uk

Alternatively, find your local adviser below:

Find your local adviser

“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.”

V&C Ltd

Welsh apprenticeships are changing

From September 2022 some construction apprenticeships in Wales will be different and employers in Wales will have an enhanced role in their delivery.

Employers will be encouraged to recruit apprentices directly from full-time provision and also take a greater role in signing off their competency at the end of their course.

CITB continue to work with partners including City and Guilds to support Welsh employers with these changes and ensure they have all the information they need.

For more information on the changes

What is an apprenticeship?

  • Apprenticeships are jobs that include recognised qualifications and job-specific skills
  • They combine learning at a college or training provider with on-site experience, to give apprentices the right mix of technical and practical skills
  • Apprentices earn a wage while they work are employed to do a job while studying for a formal qualification – there are a number of qualifications which make up the apprenticeship framework
  • Apprentices in every role follow an approved study programme, which means they will gain a nationally recognised qualification
  • There are different types and levels of apprenticeships ranging from Level 2 to 6

What changes are being made to apprenticeship frameworks in Wales?

  • Qualifications Wales reviewed qualifications in the construction and built environment sector and found that a number of changes should be made, to better meet the skills needs of employers in Wales.
  • A new suite of fundable qualifications has been developed, that will help futureproof the skills and knowledge needed in the industry.
  • Designed with employers, these new qualifications will reduce complexity, improve learning outcomes and ensure learners are fit for progression to the modern workplace.
  • CITB are fully supportive of these changes and have been involved in the development process.

When will the changes be made?

The new Foundation and Progression full-time qualifications have been taught in colleges from 01 September 2021. The new Level 3 Apprenticeship qualifications will begin from September 2022. The Welsh Government intends to publish the new apprenticeship frameworks on Monday 01 August 2022.

As a Welsh employer, what are my responsibilities in the new apprenticeship framework?

  • Employers have an enhanced role in the delivery of the new qualifications, to work with and support apprentices throughout their apprenticeship. You will need to:
  • Work with the training provider to guide and support the apprentice throughout their journey
  • Provide opportunities for the apprentice to carry out activities
  • Meet with training providers to review and record apprentice progress
  • Support the apprentice in compiling portfolio of evidence
  • Confirm when the apprentice has met the required standard for the trade
  • Support the apprentice in applying for their relevant industry competency card

As an employer can I still claim a grant if I take on an apprentice?

CITB continues to provide grant funding for eligible employers. The grant funding is based on the duration of the apprenticeship, which will vary depending on the occupation plus an achievement grant paid on successful completion of the apprenticeship.

What CSCS cards will apprentices be eligible for at the end of their apprenticeships?

Details of which CSCS cards the affected trades will attain can be obtained on the Qualifications Wales website here.

Who was involved in the decision to change Welsh apprenticeship qualifications?

  • The Welsh Government has overall responsibility for education and training in Wales. They are responsible for the approval, publication and funding of apprenticeship frameworks. The new frameworks for construction have been developed by the Welsh Government Construction Framework Advisory Group, which includes industry and key stakeholders including the National Training Federation for Wales and Colegau Cymru.
  • Qualifications Wales is the independent body responsible for regulating qualifications in Wales. They are responsible for all decisions and direction around the new construction apprenticeship qualifications. The decision to develop the Level 3 apprenticeship qualifications was made by following the findings and recommendations of their ‘Building the Future’ review report and advice from the Qualifications Wales Advisory Panel.  This view was supported feedback from numerous construction companies and the then Welsh Government policy relating to apprenticeship levels.
  • City & Guilds and EAL have worked with employers in the built environment sector across Wales to develop the new qualifications against the National Occupation Standards, so learners are more confident and ready for the workplace.
  • CITB have supported the Welsh Government and Qualifications Wales with industry and stakeholder engagement and consultation for the new qualifications and frameworks, through the Framework Development Advisory Group. CITB also supports the sector in understanding the impact of the new qualifications.
  • Work-based learning providers deliver apprenticeships in Wales and are responsible for supporting employers with their apprenticeship recruitment and monitoring to ensure the progress of an apprentice and the requirements of the apprenticeship’s framework.  
  • Colleges/training centres teach and assess apprentices within the apprenticeship frameworks and are also responsible for signing off apprentice competency.

Where can I find more information and support?

The Skills for Wales website has been developed as a single source of information for Welsh employers, learners and training providers. The Employer section includes an Employer Confirmation Guide with details to support you throughout the process.