So you’re considering employing an apprentice? Great news.
Apprentices are one of the best ways to invest in the long-term future of your business. They bring new skills for a small investment, and help to form a dedicated team of dependable and highly-trained experts.
With government funding available for apprenticeships, including grants, it’s really unthinkable that any modern employer would not be considering taking advantage of the apprenticeships scheme.
Beginning the process of taking on an apprentice couldn’t be easier, it’s simply a matter of getting in touch with a government approved training provider, like us at NTG Training.
However, if this is the first apprentice you’ve ever taken on – or if it’s your first ever employee, you may have a few questions about the undertaking as a whole.
With over a decade experience in working with employers, we like to think we know a thing or two about employing apprentices, so here’s our full guide to help you understand.
Step One: Consider The Finances
Before you take on an apprentice it’s important to have a certain confidence that your business can afford to do so. There’s a lot of possible funding and grants available for employers who take on an apprentice, but it’s important to know that the scheme is not just a means of gaining cheap labour.
Apprentices must be paid at least the minimum hourly rate set by the government. This is reviewed and increased every tax year.
Currently, you’ll need to pay any apprentice that is under the age of 19 at least £4.81/hr. Apprentices who are 19 or older, OR who have been employed through the apprenticeships scheme for a year, must be paid at least the minimum wage appropriate for their age.
Apprentices must also work for a minimum of 30 hours a week, and for a maximum of 40. That means you’ll be budgeting for around a minimum of £144.30 / week in wages.
However, when you consider that your apprentice will be being trained in a nationally recognised qualification and receiving constant mentorship from an industry-expert tutor, the value of an apprentice can easily cover the output on their wages over and over again.
For businesses, apprentices are a much more cost effective means of bringing talent into a business than hiring graduates or those who already have years of experience. Apprentices have also been proven to bring incredible ROI to businesses.
According to a recent study by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, “for every pound invested in a level 2 apprenticeship, £26 was returned – and this increased to £28 for level 3 apprenticeships.”.
Apprenticeship Funding, Grants and Incentives
We have a whole guide on our website dedicated to explaining the funding, grants and incentives available to employers who take on an apprentice, you can view it here.
In short, businesses are usually able to claim a £1,000 government grant if the apprentice they employ is aged 16 – 18, and the business has less than 50 employees.
Apprenticeship training is funded 95-100% in the vast majority of cases, meaning there’s very minimal investment required by the employer.
If you’re working for a larger business that has a payroll bill of over £3mil a year, you may even fund apprenticeships in full from the Apprenticeships Levy Pot.
Apprenticeship Pensions and Benefits
It’s also worth considering pensions and benefits for your apprentice, when you are budgeting affordability. Apprentices count in terms similar to any other employee when it comes to auto-enrolment. Therefore, you’ll need to consider auto-enrolment if your apprentice is:
- Aged 22 or over, AND
- Earning more than the auto-enrolment threshold on a yearly basis (it’s currently £10,000)
An apprentice on minimum wage who works 30 hours a week won’t qualify for this, but we do encourage all employers to consider the long term future of their apprentice and invest in them.
Step Two: Consider The Legalities
If you’re taking on an apprentice as your first ever employee and you are a sole trader, you may want to head over and read our guide to this topic here.
Employer’s Liability Insurance
All businesses, big or small, should have employers liability insurance when taking on an apprentice. This is a legal requirement in the UK. You’ll need a minimum of £5million in cover, and it’ll need to be provided by an approved insurer.
Register With HMRC
If you are not already, you’ll need to register as an employer with HMRC. You can do this online, and you’ll need to do it no earlier than 4 weeks before your new apprentice’s start date.
Once you’ve registered, HMRC will send you a PAYE number for your new apprentice. You’ll need this in order to issue pay slips to your apprentice.
Most apprentices on lower wages won’t hit the tax threshold for paying income tax (£12,570/yr in 22/23), but some might. Either way, you still need a PAYE number.
The good news is, if your apprentice is under 25 years old, they will not need to pay NI contributions. However, you will need to get your apprenticeship training provider to apply for National Insurance Relief on your behalf with the evidence of eligibility required.
Step 3: Choose a Course and Begin Recruitment
Select a Course For Your Apprentice
There are plenty of excellent training courses available for apprentices, and we’ve cherry picked a few of the most beneficial for businesses here.
Once you’ve chosen a learning topic, there may be different levels of qualification available. Generally, most apprentices without prior qualifications in your industry will study a level 2 or level 3 apprenticeship, but they can study up to a level 5 qualification if they meet the criteria.
If you’re unsure which course is best, you can call our experts on 01244 678100 for a chat, and we’ll help you decide which qualification has the learning outcomes that will most contribute towards your business goals.
Begin Recruitment in Partnership With Your Training Provider
Here at NTG, we work with employers to find the perfect apprentice. It’s not quite as simple as just sticking the role up on a bulletin board!
Our in-house experts will work with you to craft a tailored job description that pulls in the best candidates. We’ll then help you to advertise your role on social media and on job boards, before using our experience to advise on the best candidates for interview.
You can then conduct interviews to see who suits your role best.
Register Through The Government Apprenticeships Portal
Once you’re happy with your candidate and course, your training provider should work closely with you to help you register through the government’s apprenticeship portal. This is essential for employer apprenticeship requirements, and also the only way you can access your funding and grants.
That said, we make it simple. It doesn’t take long, and we’ll be with you every step of the way to ensure we’ve crossed the T’s and dotted the i’s. Once everything is above board, we’ll make sure you get any grants payable, and you can go ahead and start with your new apprentice.
Step Four: Reap The Rewards Of The Apprenticeship Scheme
Once you’ve commenced the employment of your apprentice, you can look forward to:
- Constant support from your industry expert tutor.
- Tailored learning that creates projects based around your business goals and strategy.
- Course content designed by top-of-their-field leaders, dynamically created for modern businesses.
- A fully-qualified, expert in your business after just 12-15 months in most cases!
- Regular check-ins and advice whenever you need it regarding how to get the most out of your apprentice’s new skills.
Employing an apprentice is a piece of cake with NTG, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re interested!