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Apprenticeship guidance for managers

Apprenticeships are formal structured training programmes for specific occupations available for employed people in work to gain the skills they need to carry out their current role competently. 

Their duration varies by occupation from 12 months to over 3 years for a degree level apprenticeship.

  • apprenticeships can be for existing staff not just for new recruits
  • apprentices can be any age
  • apprenticeships can be for staff in entry level roles up to ones that include a degree for staff in professional occupations
  • many apprenticeships are mapped to, and include professional body standards or chartered status
  • 20%-off-the-job training does not always mean a day a week out of the office
  • the government has useful information on apprenticeships - their advice includes the many benefits to doing an apprenticeship
  • there's a financial incentive: for new apprentices aged 16 to 24, employers will receive £2,000 and for those aged 25 and over, employers will receive £1,500 - from April 2021 the incentives will become more generous with a £3,000 payment per hire, regardless of the apprentice’s age.

Recruiting an apprentice

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education sets out standards that should be in place before employing an apprentice including a summary of the apprenticeship and the key learning outcomes. There is also information on the entry requirements for the apprenticeship.

Vacancy approval

You will need to follow the normal vacancy approval process.

Procuring a learning provider

Before you start the recruitment process you will need to procure a learning provider.

This process is under review, please contact talent development and we will help and advice.

Recruitment process

Once you have vacancy control authorisation and have procured a learning provider you will need to follow the normal recruitment process.

All care leavers will be guaranteed an interview for apprenticeship vacancies.

Skills scan and prior learning

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.

Starting an apprenticeship for existing employees

If you are interested in supporting one of your existing employees to undertake an apprenticeship please read the guidance on apprenticeships for employees.

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 80% 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 regular reviews involving both the apprentice and training provider to assess progress, confirm achievements, and support any actions needed to complete the apprenticeship successfully.

Commitment statement

The apprenticeship 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.

Arranging 20% off the job learning

Apprentices need to make sure they have planned training and development time. This must take place during their paid working hours and amount to a minimum of 20% of their working paid time. Most development time in an apprenticeship will be planned and led by the training provider, but all 3 parties will contribute activities that combine to achieve the overall 20%.

The 20% off-the-job training provides the time to focus and develop the required skills, knowledge and behaviours to achieve the apprenticeship. There are lots of activities that can contribute to off-the-job training. The key thing to remember is that it must be relevant to the apprenticeship. This time is not necessarily away from the workplace, it might be working on a project, job shadowing, or time with a mentor.


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 then 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.

Advice and support

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.

While apprentices do 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.

It is important that line managers advertise their vacancies in advance of the apprenticeship end date, usually before the last 3 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.