Apprenticeships: Your questions answered

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced plans to dramatically increase the number of apprenticeships in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. In his summer statement, Mr Sunak said he believed that apprenticeships would form the cornerstone of efforts to kick start the economy. It is part of a £1.6billion package that is being spent on employment support schemes.
But what will this mean for your business, and will you be able to take advantage of employer bonuses towards funding apprenticeships? De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s Head of Apprenticeships, Tasmin Raynor, answers your questions.

Q: What has the Chancellor announced? 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has made employment a focus of his Summer Statement with a range of measures in the government ‘plan for jobs’, including apprenticeships. 
The Plan for Jobs to help the UK's recovery will boost apprenticeships and opportunities for young people across many sectors. In recognition of the value apprentices can bring to our economy, an incentive payment will be made to employers who hire an apprentice between 1 August 2020 and 31 January 2021.

A new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over. These payments will be in addition to the existing £1,000 payment for new 16-18 year-old apprentices, and those aged under 25 with an education, health and care plan (EHC). In his statement on the government's plans for the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Sunak said apprenticeships "worked", with 91 per cent of apprentices staying in work or doing further training afterwards. It is wonderful to see the Chancellor recognising apprenticeships and their vital role in any recovery.

Q: What can I receive from the Government?
For the next six months, the Government is going to pay employers to create new apprenticeships. Businesses will receive £2,000 for every new apprentice they hire aged under 25, between August 2020 and January 2021, and £1,500 for each new apprentice employers hire aged 25 and over, between August 2020 and January 2021. These payments will be in addition to the existing £1,000 payment for new 16-18 year-old apprentices, and those aged under 25 with an education, health and care plan (EHC).

Q: What are higher and degree apprenticeships? How do they work in practice?

Higher and Degree Apprenticeships are available at levels 4 to 7. They combine work with study and may include a work-based, academic or combined qualification or a professional qualification relevant to the industry. Higher apprenticeships go from level 4 to 7 and are equivalent to a foundation degree and above e.g. a professional qualification. Degree apprenticeships are available at levels 6 and 7 (full bachelor’s and Master’s).

Designed in partnership with industry to meet professional standards, Higher and Degree Apprenticeships are a great way to gain practical, on the job skills whilst earning a salary and studying towards a university award e.g. degree at the same time. The apprenticeship funding rules place conditions on which individuals will be funded to undertake an apprenticeship through the English system.

Apprenticeships offer a combination of a real job, real training and a real salary, and offer a real alternative to the traditional college or university route for those who want to gain a higher education qualification. Apprentices spend 80% of their time in at work and 20% in university.

Universities offer a range of course delivery modes including day-release, block delivery and online learning. The mode of study will depend on the programme the apprentice is on. Successful applicants will attend university and spend a minimum of 30 hours a week at work where they get to work alongside highly experienced professionals who impart the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for the role.

Q: What is the limit on incentive payments?
There will be no limit on the number of incentive payments that an employer can claim for apprentices eligible to receive funding, provided each apprentice meets the criteria, including being a new employee.

Fire it Up

Q: As a business that does not pay the apprenticeship levy, what support is available for me?
For employers who do not pay the apprenticeship levy, there are options such as:

•    Employers who do not pay the levy, and those who want to invest more in apprenticeship training than they have available in their levy accounts, benefit from significant government funding to support their commitment to apprenticeships. These employers must make a financial contribution, a ‘co-investment’, alongside this government funding.
•    All co-investment payments are made directly to the training provider. An employer cash contribution towards the costs of training is an essential part of apprenticeship reforms, designed to increase quality and employer engagement.
•    For apprenticeships that start between 1 August 2020 and 31 July 2021 the rate of co-investment is 5% of the total price of the apprentice’s training, with the government covering the remaining 95% of the cost up to the funding band maximum.
•    Please note: Employer must pay contribution in order to access levy fund, this is not optional.
Small Employer Waiver
•    Support for smaller employers to take on those who need more support. Employers with fewer than 50 people working for them can train, at no cost, those aged 16-18 or those aged 19-24 who have previously been in care or who have a Local Authority Education, Health and Care plan. These employers are not required to contribute the 5% co-investment; instead, the government will pay 100% of the training costs for these individuals up to the funding band maximum.
Q: I am interested in apprenticeships on behalf of my organisation. What are the next steps?

To make the most of what apprenticeships can offer your business, think in broad terms – linking it to your businesses’ existing people strategy, which in turn feeds into the overall business strategy. Given apprenticeships can be used to develop new and existing staff of all ages, across a wide range of occupations and job roles, they should be central to your talent and attraction thinking.
Consideration should be given to their potential to deliver long-term results, in particular:

• Developing internal talent pipelines 
• Being able to upskill or re-skill existing staff 

• Generally meeting the skills needs of the future 

Apprenticeships are available in 17,000 occupations across 170 sectors of the economy.

Therefore, consider how apprenticeships can work across your whole business, not simply technical roles. Two types of apprenticeship funding exist in England: levy funding and non-levy funding. Which one you are eligible for depends on the size of the annual pay bill of your business.

Apprenticeships are now delivered through new ‘standards’, created by employers for employers. This new model provides an element of consistency as all training providers must deliver to a number of stipulated learning outcomes across knowledge, skills and behaviours. Most employers will choose to partner with a training provider(s) to deliver their apprenticeship programme. All training providers have to be on the government’s ‘Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers’. There are many to choose from and, although working to the same standards, will have their own way of delivering an apprenticeship. You should contact the training provider you would like to work with as they will provide advice and guidance about apprenticeships and support you throughout the process.

To find out more about apprenticeships at DMU click here  or email

Q: What apprenticeships does DMU offer?

Architect (level 7 degree)
Chartered Manager (degree)
Senior Leader (level 7 degree)
Cyber Security Technical Professional (integrated degree)
Digital and Technology Solutions Professional (integrated degree)
Embedded electronic systems design and development engineer (degree)
Hearing Aid Dispenser (level 5 apprenticeship which incorporates the Foundation Degree (FdSc) in Hearing Aid Audiology)
Police Constable (degree)
Academic Professional (level 7 qualification)

Click here to see the programmes we are currently delivering. Click here see the programmes we are developing

Contact us if you are interested in one of our programmes in development, or if you would like to discuss creating a bespoke training and development programme to meet your individual organisation's needs.

Q: Are apprenticeships relevant to the workplace?
Higher and Degree Apprenticeship standards are created by employers to develop specific skills required for the workplace. These are then mapped against DMU programmes which ensure that the learning outcomes and content are tailored to support the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for the job.

Q: What sort of return on investment can I expect from taking on an apprentice?

  • Develop and up-skill your workforce in a cost-effective manner             
  • Recruit and develop ambitious, motivated staff        
  • Increase retention by offering staff the chance to develop and progress  
  •  Retain talent and gain access to a broader talent pool             
  • Tailor apprentices' learning to business requirements              
  • Work around business commitments with a flexible range of study options including block delivery, day release and online learning   

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Posted on Wednesday 5th August 2020

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