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At Paragon Skills, we are passionate about apprenticeships, here’s our latest take on what’s happening at Paragon Skills and in the apprenticeship industry.

What are the benefits of employing an apprentice?

Taking on an apprentice is a proven and cost effective way for employers to grow and sustain their business; develop talent and prevent skills gaps. Here are just some of the measured benefits of apprenticeships:

  • 92% of companies who employ an apprentice believe apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce
  • 81% of consumers favour a company that employs apprentices
  • 89% of companies employing apprentices agree they make the workplace more productive

How much will an apprenticeship cost us?

You can get help from the government to pay for apprenticeship training.

The amount you get depends on whether you pay the apprenticeship levy or not. You pay the Levy if you’re an employer with a pay bill over £3 million each year.

As an employer that doesn’t pay the apprenticeship levy, you pay just 5% towards the cost of training and assessing an apprentice.

The government will pay the rest up to the funding band maximum.

As an employer with a pay bill of more than £3 million, you’re required to pay the apprenticeship levy. You can manage funds using the apprenticeship service and spend it on training and assessing your apprentices. The government will apply a 10% top-up to the funds you have in your account.

How much do I need to pay my apprentice?

You’re responsible for paying your apprentice for their normal working hours and any training they do as part of the apprenticeship.

You must pay them at least the National Minimum Wage rate depending on their age and the year of apprenticeship training they’re in.

The rates from April 2022 are:

Apprentice                               Under 19          19 to 20            21 to 22            23 and over

In 1st year                                £4.81                £4.81                £4.81                £4.81

Have completed 1st year           £4.81                £6.83                £9.18                £9.50

Do I need to pay National Insurance Contributions?

Employers may not need to pay Class 1 National Insurance contributions for an apprentice, if the apprentice is:

  • under 25 years old
  • on an approved UK government apprenticeship standard or framework (these can differ depending on country)
  • earns less than £967 a week (£50,270 a year)

The apprentice, as an employee, will continue to pay Class 1 insurance contributions through their salary, this will only benefit the employer.

Read HMRC’s guidance on paying National Insurance contributions.

Are apprentices entitled to holidays?

Yes. You must offer apprentices the same conditions as other employees working at similar grades or in similar roles. This includes holiday, sick pay and any benefits you offer other members of staff such as childcare voucher schemes.

What happens when an apprenticeship ends?

Apprenticeships are a great way to recruit for the future and build a talent pool tailored to the specific needs of your business. Once an apprentice has successfully completed their apprenticeship many employers welcome the opportunity to retain them within their business.

An investment in the future, successful apprentices can progress on to other levels of apprenticeship, increasing their knowledge, skill sets, and investment in your business. As an apprenticeship training provider we are very much involved in the progression of our learners and will welcome the opportunity to discuss all the options with you and your apprentice.

How do we employ an apprentice?

We can help you find the right apprentice for your business. If you are looking to employ an apprentice you can learn more about the process on our ‘Recruitment Toolkit’ page, or you can call us to discuss your requirements on 0800 783 2545.

Who provides the apprenticeship training?

Employers can only spend their levy funds on apprenticeship training delivered by an approved training provider. This could be through buying in training from an approved provider or delivering the training themselves.

To deliver training, all providers and employers looking to deliver their own training, need to register as an approved provider and be subject to Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) quality arrangements and Ofsted inspection.

Levied employers can now choose a provider from the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP).

Paragon Skills is an approved DAS training provider. As experts in the field of apprenticeships, with over 20 years’ experience, we can also help identify the right apprenticeship training programmes for your team and work with you to recruit a suitable candidate using our own recruitment service.

What if the apprenticeship training we need exceeds our levy pot?

If you don’t have enough funds, you just pay 5% of the outstanding balance and the government will pay the rest. This is up to the funding band maximum allocated to each specific apprenticeship.

We want to upskill a current employee, is an apprenticeship the answer?

Yes. An apprenticeship is a great way to upskill current employees without disruption to your business.

Plus, supporting a current employee through an apprenticeship is a great way to boost staff morale, as well as encouraging loyalty. It is a clear indicator to employees that you care about their training, development and career progression.

At Paragon Skills we can advise you on available funding for this, possible grants from the government and the next steps should you want to explore the benefits of apprenticeships more.

How long does an apprenticeship last?

In the sectors we work in, an apprenticeship takes 12 to 48 months, however, this can vary depending on the hours worked, the industry sector, and level of qualification. You can view the duration of each of our apprenticeship routes on the relevant apprenticeship Course pages alongside the EPA times.

Will an apprentice need to be off-site?

Most of the apprenticeships we offer are 100% on-the-job training with no requirement to train offsite. The exception being our apprenticeships in the Automotive and Marine sectors where time each week will be at our Skills Centres. This can be either a day release or block release depending on your requirements.

Can we work with multiple Training Providers?

Yes. However, the more training providers you work with, the more time you will need to invest in the management of each relationship. Our advice would be to find one training provider that can manage your apprenticeship programmes including multiple suppliers. This way your management time is minimised, but the impact of your training programme is maximised and the training offered meets the needs of all employees involved in the apprenticeship programme.

What is End Point Assessment (EPA)?

End-point assessment (EPA) tests the knowledge, skills and behaviours that an apprentice has gained during their training. Unique to each standard, EPA demonstrates the competence of an apprentice in their role. At Paragon Skills we are really proud to say that all learners who reach EPA will pass their apprenticeship.

What are my responsibilities as an employer?

As an employer, you need to make sure there is a genuine job available with a contract of employment long enough for the apprentice to complete their apprenticeship. The duration will depend on the type of apprenticeship the apprentice is undertaking. The job role must allow the apprentice to develop the skills, knowledge and behaviours set within the apprenticeship standards. You will need to allow the apprentice time to study. The apprentice will need support in their new role, so a mentor or manager must be available to provide this support.

Are all apprentices school leavers?

The perception all apprentices are young school leavers is a myth.

Apprenticeships are for anyone over the age of 16 – including groups from career changers to people wanting to develop their skills while working in their job.

Employers often prefer selecting older candidates for posts – as they usually bring more maturity and experience. In 2019/20, 47 percent of the apprenticeships started were by people aged 25 or over.

Still, looking for more information on how we can support you?

That was a lot of questions. Still interested in working with Paragon Skills? Great – we are here to support you and work alongside you to find the right solution for you and your team.

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