How to hire an apprentice – UK guide for employers

Last checked and updated on 16 September 2022

If you’re an employer in the UK, you may be wondering how to hire an apprentice. Apprenticeships can be a great way to train up new staff and increase your business efficiency.

In this article, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to know about employing apprentices, including why it’s a good idea, how much you have to pay them and what the rules are.

Plus, we’ll give you step-by-step instructions on how to go about hiring an apprentice so that the process is as easy for you as possible!

Why hire an apprentice?

There are lots of reasons why you might want to consider hiring an apprentice. For starters, they can be a great way to train up new staff members and give them the skills they need to be successful in your business.

Apprenticeships are also a cost-effective way to grow your workforce as you only have to pay apprentices for the time they’re training. And, because apprentices are usually aged between 16 and 24, they can also help you to meet your legal obligations around employing young people.

What’s more, research has shown that businesses who employ apprentices are more productive, have lower staff turnover rates and are more likely to innovate than those who don’t. So, there are plenty of reasons to give it a go!

How much do you have to pay an apprentice?

As we mentioned above, you only have to pay apprentices for the time they’re training. This means that you don’t have to provide them with a full-time salary like you would for other members of staff.

The minimum wage for apprentices is currently the National Minimum Wage, but you may choose to pay them more than this if you wish.

It’s also worth noting that, as an employer, you may be eligible for financial incentives when you hire an apprentice. For example, you could get up to £1,000 from the government to help with the cost of training and paying your apprentice.

What are the rules around employing an apprentice?

There are a few things you need to bear in mind when you’re employing an apprentice. Firstly, they must be aged 16 or over. There is a common misconception that apprentices must be younger than 24 or 25 years old.

Secondly, they must be employed for a minimum of 30 hours per week and must be working towards a recognised apprenticeship standard or framework.

And finally, you must ensure that they spend at least 20% of their working time undertaking off-the-job training. This can include things like shadowing, mentoring, e-learning and attending workshops.

Eligibility
You must check the applicant’s eligibility for an apprenticeship. If you’re unsure about anything, you can get in touch with the National Apprenticeship Service for more information.

The apprentice must work for you or a connected business or charity as determined by HMRC, and they must:

• Have the right to work in England.
• Spend at least 50% of their working hours in England.

About commitment statements and funding

If you’re looking to hire an apprentice who is aged 16 or over, you’ll need to provide them with a commitment statement. This is a document which sets out the apprentice’s job role, duties and responsibilities, as well as how long their apprenticeship will last.

How to hire an apprentice step-by-step instructions

Now that you know all the ins and outs of hiring an apprentice, you might be wondering how to go about it.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:

Hiring and employing your first apprentice

How to hire an apprentice

  1. Figure out what kind of apprentice you need

    Before you start your search for an apprentice, it’s important to take some time to think about what kind of role you need them to fill.

    Do you need someone who can help with a specific skill? Or perhaps you’re looking for someone with general office or admin skills? Once you’ve got a good idea of the kind of person you need, you can start your search.

  2. Find the right training provider

    If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to finding a training provider, don’t worry – there are plenty of organisations that can help.

    The first port of call is usually your local Chamber of Commerce or Business Link, who will be able to point you in the right direction. Alternatively, you could check out the National Apprenticeship Service website, which has a list of registered training providers.

  3. Advertise your vacancy

    Once you’ve found a few potential training providers, it’s time to start advertising your vacancy.

    The best place to do this is on the National Apprenticeship Service website, as you can be sure that all of the candidates who apply will meet the minimum requirements for the role.

    You should also make sure to include a link to your apprenticeship page on your company website, as this will make it easier for candidates to find and apply for the role.

  4. Interview your candidates

    Once you’ve received all of the applications, it’s time to start interviewing your candidates.

    When you’re conducting the interviews, it’s important to bear in mind that apprentices are still learning, so you shouldn’t expect them to be as knowledgeable as other members of staff.

    Instead, focus on their potential and try to get a good idea of how they would fit into your company. It might also be worth doing a skills test or giving them a task to complete during the interview process.

  5. Offer the role to your chosen candidate

    Once you’ve interviewed all of the candidates, it’s time to make your decision and offer the role to your chosen candidate.

    If they accept, congratulations – you’ve just hired your first apprentice!

Tips for success when onboarding your first apprentice

Now that you’ve hired your first apprentice, it’s important to set them up for success. Here are a few tips to help you do just that:

  • Give them a mentor: A mentor can be a great source of support and advice for apprentices, so it’s worth considering assigning one to your new starter.
  • Set clear expectations: It’s important to set out what you expect from your apprentice from the very start. This will help them to hit the ground running and avoid any misunderstandings further down the line.
  • Be patient: Remember that apprentices are still learning, so it’s important to be patient with them. They might make mistakes from time to time, but it’s all part of the learning process.
  • Give feedback: Feedback is essential for helping apprentices to improve, so make sure to give them regular constructive feedback on their progress.

FAQ

How much do you have to pay an apprentice?

You must pay your apprentices at least the minimum wage, but you can pay them more if you want to.

What are the rules around employing an apprentice?

There are a few things you need to bear in mind when you’re employing an apprentice.

Firstly, they must be aged 16 or over. Secondly, they must be employed for a minimum of 30 hours per week and must be working towards a recognised apprenticeship standard or framework.

How long does an apprenticeship last?

The length of an apprenticeship depends on the level and the standard or framework being followed. However, most apprenticeships last between 1 and 4 years.

Do I have to pay for my apprentice’s training?

Yes, as the employer you must pay the wages of your apprentice.

Can I claim any financial incentives for taking on an apprentice?

Yes, there are a number of financial incentives available to employers who take on apprentices.

For example, if you’re a small business, you may be eligible for a £1,000 payment.

You can find out more about the financial incentives available on the National Apprenticeship Service website.

I’m not sure an apprentice is right for my business. Is there any other support available?

Yes, there is a range of support available to help you make the decision about whether or not an apprentice is right for your business.

You can get in touch with your local Business Link advisor, who will be able to provide you with impartial advice and guidance.

You can also find lots of useful information on the National Apprenticeship Service website, including case studies from businesses who have taken on apprentices.

I’m ready to hire an apprentice. Where can I find one?

You can find apprentices through a number of different channels, including online job boards, newspapers and word of mouth. There are also a number of organisations that specialise in matching businesses with apprentices, such as Apprenticeship Matching and the National Apprenticeship Service. If you’re not sure where to start, your local Business Link advisor will be able to point you in the right direction.

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Important – The information provided in our articles is intended to be for general purpose use only, and not advice for you or your business. We strive to publish accurate information, but encourage you to fact-check and seek expert guidance. We recommend that you always speak to a qualified professional to get advice about how to operate your business under your specific requirements and circumstances.