A bricklaying student in the workshop at East Durham College's Peterlee Campus

Employers' FAQ

Q: How do I get started?

A: Contact the Work Based Learning Team on 0191 518 8294 (Peterlee Campus & The Technical Academy) or 0191 518 5587

Q: What is an Apprenticeship?

A: Apprenticeships refer to on-the-job training leading to nationally recognised qualifications, developed by industry. The National Apprenticeship service supports, funds and co-ordinates the delivery of Apprenticeships throughout England.

Q: How long do they take?

A: The length of an Apprenticeship varies depending on prior skills levels of the Apprentice, the qualification being obtained and industry sector. Generally Apprenticeships take between one and five years to complete.

Q: What does it involve?

A: An Apprenticeship includes the following components:

  • A knowledge based element
  • A competence based element
  • Transferable or ‘key skills’ - including maths, English and IT tests
  • A module on employment rights and responsibilities.

Q: Is there an upper age limit for Apprenticeships?

A: No - apprentices can be of any age, however the funding for different age groups may be different.

Q: I have an employee keen to do an Apprenticeship. Can I still take them on as an apprentice?

A: Yes.

Q: How often do Apprentices attend college or training sessions?

A: This varies from programme to programme. Some of the training can be in the workplace and other sessions could be in college or with a learning provider. Depending on the type of job being done, or the elements of training being undertaken, it could be one day a week or a block release.

Q: Do I receive any monetary incentives to take on an apprentice?

A: Montary incentives for employers who take on apprentices are made on a case-by-case basis, depending on circumstances. Please contact our apprenticeship team directly on 0191 518 8294 for more information.

Q: Why would I want to take on an apprentice?

A: Because it is good business. Skills shortages are still one of the biggest threats to UK business. Apprenticeships can help businesses across all industries by offering a route to harness fresh talent. If you have trained staff with the right skills for the job they can do a wider range of tasks and take on new responsibilities - this can help to reduce skill shortages, minimise staff turnover and workplace accidents, and increase productivity.

Taking on an apprentice is cost effective because your people can learn while they’re on the job and the government contributes to the costs of learning.

Q: Yes, but what is the financial benefit to me?

A: There are clear financial benefits to employers and their investment in Apprenticeships is repaid many times over.

A recent study by the University of Warwick Institute of Employment Research found that the costs of Apprenticeship training are recouped relatively quickly, and that where the investment is nurtured, the returns are significant.

Another study by Sheffield University measured the long term financial benefit to investing in Apprenticeships. A Level 3 Advanced apprentice will generate an additional lifetime benefit to themselves and their employer of £105,000 compared to someone who does not gain an Apprenticeship. The Level 2 additional benefit is £73,000. This represents a gain of £16 for every £1 of taxpayers’ money. 

Q: Is there a cost for employers?

A: Like all employees, apprentices must still receive a wage. The minimum wage for apprentices is set by the government as a per hour rate, but many employers pay more than this. Visit https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates for more details.

There is also the cost of the supervision, support and mentoring that you will need to put in place to support the apprentice. These associated costs are not insignificant - however, the National Apprenticeship Service will match employer’s commitment to hiring apprentices by covering in full, or in part, the training costs.

Q: Why is on- and off-the-job training included in the definition of hours for the Apprenticeship NMW? 

A: An Apprenticeship is a package of work and on and off the job training. It is right that apprentices are paid for all the time they are on the Apprenticeship. That includes training time. 

Q: Is evening class/study in the evening counted towards the hours for which the NMW is paid? 

A: Yes if it is study as part of the Apprenticeship. 

Q: I pay my apprentices more than the NMW, should I cut their wages? 

A: There is no reason for you to cut their pay. It is a minimum below which they should not be paid – it is not a standard rate, nor rate for all Apprenticeships. 

Q: I call my trainees apprentices, are they eligible for the Apprentice NMW? 

A: Only if they are employed on a contract of Apprenticeship; or they are on a publicly funded Apprenticeship programme and aged 16-18 or 19 and over in the first year of their programme. All others must be paid at least the NMW appropriate to their age. 

Q: Why has the previous weekly minimum (£95 per week) been replaced by an hourly minimum rate? (England only) 

A: The NMW is based on hourly rates. The Government has accepted the Low Pay Commission’s recommendation of a minimum hourly rate. This will mean a simpler single system for employers. 

Q: Who does the NMW apply to? 

A: The NMW applies to all new and existing apprentices aged 16 to 18 and those aged 19 or over in the first year of their Apprenticeship. The NMW does not affect those apprentices aged 19 or over who have already completed a year of their Apprenticeship – they will continue to be entitled to be paid at least at the full NMW rate appropriate to their age.  

Apprentices are those on a contract of Apprenticeship or those on a Government funded Apprenticeship. If they are not in one of these categories the employers must pay you at least the minimum wage appropriate to their age. 

Q: Will my apprentices be entitled to the new apprentice minimum rate for the entire length of their Apprenticeship? 

A: Not necessarily. The apprentice NMW applies to all 16 to 18 year olds and to those aged 19 and over in the first year of their Apprenticeship. If they reach the age of 19 and have completed the first year of their Apprenticeship you must pay them at least the full NMW rate for those aged 18 to 20.  

If they are already 19 and have completed the first year of your Apprenticeship they must be paid at least the NMW rate for their age. 

Q: Is there a limit to the number of Apprentices that an employer can take on? 

A: No they can take on as many as they need – and often in more than one framework. The employer will be responsible for giving the Apprentice an induction into their role as they provide on-the-job training.  

Q: What are my responsibilities as the employer? 

A: You must give your Apprentice an induction into their role and provide on-the-job training. As with all employees, you are also responsible for the wages of your apprentice. 

Q: Do apprentices pay tax and national insurance? 

A: As is the case of all employees aged over 16, Apprentices must still pay tax and national insurance on their income. 

Q: Are Apprentices eligible for maternity leave? 

A: Yes. Like all employees, apprentices are entitled to statutory Maternity Leave of 52 weeks with statutory Maternity Pay for up to 39 weeks. 

Q: Do I have to give my Apprentice holidays? 

A: Like most other employees, Apprentices must be given at least 20 days’ paid holiday per year as well as bank holidays.

Contact Us

Employers should contact our Employer Engagement team on 0191 518 8294 or 0191 518 5587 or you can email: hayley.clifton@eastdurham.ac.uk or emma.norbury@eastdurham.ac.uk