How do apprenticeships work?

Learn more about the practical aspects of joining the apprentice scheme.

An apprenticeship is a paid job with an accompanying skills development programme. It allows apprentices to gain essential knowledge and real practical experience through a mix of learning in the workplace, formal ‘off-the-job’ training and the opportunity to practise and embed their new skills in a real work context.

Apprenticeships have been designed by employers to meet the needs for a particular sector or job role. Each apprenticeship defines the skills, knowledge, behaviours and formal qualifications that are required to develop competent, skilled and knowledgeable employees.

Apprentices must spend at least 20% of their time on off-the-job training, however, they may need more than this if, for example, they need training in English and maths. It is up to the employer and training provider to decide how the off- the-job training is delivered. It may include regular day release, block release and special training days or workshops.

Training must be directly relevant to the apprenticeship and can be delivered at the apprentice’s normal place of work as long as it is not part of their normal working duties. It can cover practical training such as shadowing, mentoring, industry visits and attending competitions.

On-the-job training helps an apprentice develop the specific skills for the workplace and they should be supported by a mentor. Once an apprentice completes their apprenticeship, they should be able to demonstrate that they can perform tasks confidently and to the standard set by industry.

Employer responsibilities


Apprenticeships represent a big commitment from the student and the employer and there are some important things to consider before moving forward with an apprenticeship.

Employed team member

An apprentice will be an employed member of your team, so they will need a contract of employment long enough for them to complete their apprenticeship.


Employers must also pay the apprentice’s wages, aligned with the National Minimal Wage, for the age of the apprentice.  The current minimum wage for apprentices can be found here.


The role must help the apprentice gain the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need to achieve the apprenticeship with support from the employer.

Employers need to have:

  • all the necessary paperwork, with an apprenticeship agreement in place with their apprentice for the duration of the apprenticeship.
  • a written agreement with NHBC for employers who pay the apprenticeship levy and use the apprenticeship service.
  • a commitment to have an apprenticeship in place for at least one year.
  • the correct employment policies and salary requirements for the apprentices’ age.
  • a commitment to pay a wage consistent with the law for the time they are in work and in off-the-job training, with updates on progression and average weekly hours and changes to working patterns logged and checked with the training provider.
  • a commitment statement signed by the apprentice, the employer and NHBC.

Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss employing an apprentice

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Apprenticeship resources

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Apprenticeships handbook

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Safeguarding and prevent guide

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Grants and incentives for Apprentices