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How apprenticeships work

Apprenticeships can be used to both develop existing employees or recruit new individuals. This section includes roles and responsibilities and the commitment required for an apprenticeship.

Supporting an apprentice

It's important that line managers are actively involved in planning for an apprenticeship. They are critical for leading the work with the apprentice and learning provider; ensuring that the time at work is effective at embedding and improving skills, and developing competency.

The line manager must also ensure that the apprentice's job role provides the opportunities for the apprentice to undertake all the tasks needed for the role, even if this means some temporary changes in responsibilities, so the apprentice can demonstrate their improving skills.

Line managers must confirm that the apprentice is competent in their role prior to the assessment at the end of the apprenticeship. They must also take part in 12-weekly reviews involving both the apprentice and training provider to assess progress, confirm achievements, and support any actions needed to complete the apprenticeship successfully.

Training plan

The apprenticeship training plan (previously referred to as a commitment statement) is a contract signed by the employer, the apprentice and the training provider before the start of the programme. This is a list of expectations and additional information about the programme. It records the commitment of all parties towards the fulfilment of the apprenticeship programme and confirms the eligibility of the learner.

Apprenticeship agreement

An apprenticeship agreement is between an employer and an apprentice to confirm employment arrangements and must be signed at the start of the apprenticeship.

Working with the learning provider

The learning provider is responsible for most of the compliance and curriculum for the duration of the apprenticeship. They are accountable to Ofsted and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) for the quality of their delivery.

Learning providers must undertake an initial assessment check on all apprentices. These checks are a pre-requisite of any apprenticeship and must be undertaken prior to an apprentice starting. You need to agree with the learning provider when the skills scan will take place.

The screening checks are used to check the level of competency and ensure that the apprentice will be able to achieve the required functional skills during their apprenticeship. It will also identify any additional support the candidate may need.

Also, learning providers are required to recognise any prior learning the candidate may have, such as their prior education, training or associated qualification(s) in a related sector or subject area. Where there is prior learning, the content and duration of the apprenticeship must be reduced to reflect this. The new (reduced) duration must still meet the minimum threshold of 12 months. If not, the candidate will be ineligible for apprenticeship funding which could result in withdrawing the apprenticeship offer.

Thorough shortlisting, to ensure candidates are not ‘overqualified’ is essential. If you have any questions about an apprentice's qualifications and prior learning, please contact the learning provider for advice and clarification.

Arranging 6 hours per week off the job training

Off-the-job-training reinforces practical, work-based learning with technical and theoretical learning. Examples could include work-based projects, new tasks not undertaken in usual role, lectures, role playing, simulations, exercises or online learning. Other practical based examples include shadowing, mentoring and industry visits.

A minimum of 6 hours per week of the employee's working time will be spent on off-the-job training which will take them away from their day-to-day responsibilities, however, not necessarily from their day-to-day workplace. Off-the-job-training will be managed and structured dependent on the apprenticeship, the role they undertake and the services’ business priorities. The learning provider will work with the employee and yourself, or day to day line manager if different, to identify opportunities for off-the-job learning and will advise what will and will not contribute to this.

This guidance has been updated in accordance with the latest funding rules (2022 to 2023). For apprenticeships that started before 1 August 2022, the requirement of off-the-job training remains at 20%.

Guiding principles

Guiding principles include:

  • off-the-job training is focused on learning new skills, not assessing existing skills
  • the line manager has the responsibility for ensuring the employee has the opportunities needed to meet the minimum 6 hours per week off-the-job training requirement
  • off-the-job training must take place during the employee's usual working hours
  • the learning provider has responsibility for guiding line manager and the employee on which tasks and workload can be recognised as off-the-job training
  • in consultation with the learning provider, the employee and line manager, or day to day line manager if different, will decide when the 6 hours per week will take place so as it can suit the needs of the organisation

Off-the-job training does not include;

  • English or maths functional skills training and assessment if required -this is funded separately
  • apprenticeship reviews or assessments or training which takes place outside of the apprentice's paid working hours

Managing the 6 hours per week off-the-job training to ensure benefits are experienced by both the service and the employee

The following examples are not an exhaustive list but an indication of how some of our employees and their line managers are working with this element. It is through quality conversations that creative innovations may be found, bespoke to the employee and the service they belong to.

  • to align work-based projects with apprenticeship units to ensure benefits are experienced by both the service and employee
  • the employee to exercise self-discipline and protect the designated 6 hours per week off the job learning by staying off-line
  • agreeing cover arrangements in advance with line managers on a termly basis
  • line managers responsibly delegating responsibilities and using the opportunity to develop skills within the team
  • where appropriate take the 6 hours per week as a block and the line manager can support the time away more consistently, like covering annual leave

Active learning / break in learning

Apprentices must be involved in active learning (off-the-job training and / or English and maths training) throughout the apprenticeship. Some active learning must take place at least every 4 weeks or a break in learning (BIL) must be used.


The mentoring process is when an experienced and trusted colleague offers support, advice and guidance to another colleague. It involves transferring experience and expertise so that the less experienced colleague can develop their skills and achieve their goals.

Giving regular feedback

Feedback will help the individual to understand how they are doing and what more they can do get the most from the placement opportunity. This is essential to support the apprenticeship and ensure that it is a success:

  • at the time - tell them straightaway if they've done something well, give pointers how to improve – don't wait for the next one-to-one or progress review
  • in weekly one-to-ones - have a short session once a week to tell them how they've done, ask how it's going for them and agree tasks for the coming week

Good feedback should be:

  • clear and concise
  • owned by the person providing it (I think …. I noticed …)
  • balanced – both positive and constructive and specific – based on observable behaviour

Gateway and end point assessment

The Gateway refers to the requirements that need to be met in order for the employer to put forward their apprentice for the end point assessment.

The employer and training provider will review the apprentice's knowledge, skills and behaviours to see if they have met the minimum requirements and are ready to take the end point assessment.

End point assessment (EPA) is the final assessment for an apprentice to ensure that they can do they job they have been training for. EPA is separate to any qualifications or other assessment that the apprentice may undertake.

All our apprentices are employed by Derbyshire County Council. They are on the same terms and conditions as other people within your team. Details of the terms and conditions are held within the Working for us booklet.

Please be mindful that this might be the first time the individual has had a regular job and therefore may need additional support.

HR advice and support

Your advice and support contacts are:

What will happen when the apprenticeship ends

As an apprentice approaches the end of their apprenticeship it's important that their line manager starts to discuss the next steps. Considering the apprentices' skills and behaviours alongside their ambitions and the career pathways we offer is a useful starting point.

Where an apprentice recruited externally may not have a guaranteed job at the end of the placement, they do have access to internal vacancies from day one of their apprenticeship. Where possible it is expected that apprentices will be recruited into established posts in order to retain their skills and competence within the council.

In this instance, it's important that line managers advertise their vacancies in advance of the apprenticeship end date, usually before the last 6 months of their apprentice completing. This ensures the recruitment process is complete before the apprenticeship ends and any apprentices successful in obtaining a permanent position, have a seamless transition between their apprenticeship and the new post, avoiding a break in service.

The recruitment to permanent positions is the responsibility of line managers and should follow our recruitment and selection procedures.