What is an Apprenticeship?

What is an Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a way to gain a qualification and experience whilst being in full time employment.  You will be paid at least an apprenticeship wage which is set down by the Government.  link.  You will have two contracts, one with your employer setting out your rights, rate of pay etc in the normal way and the other is a training contract with the Training Provider, your Employer and you which sets out the commitment for each party to provide and complete the work and training for the qualification.

All qualification training and assessing costs must be paid for by the Employer and not by the Apprentice. The Apprentice must complete at least 20% paid off the job training whilst undertaking the apprenticeship, this is where the skills and knowledge of the trade will be gained , and this activity must be recorded.  Training delivered at a College on a day release or block system will count towards the 20% off the job training requirement.


The different types of qualifications.

The qualifications can range from level 1 to level 7 and are in different formats:

Functional Skills – If you have not gained your Maths or English GCSE you will be required to study these subjects as part of your apprenticeship. For some subjects you will also need to gain your ICT as well.  These will be up to level 2 Functional Skills.

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ)  - these range from level 2 – 5 and can cover most subjects


Technical certificates (T Apprenticeships)  – such as BTEC or City and Guilds. These are more industry based subjects


Academic Qualifications – these include Higher National Certificates, AAT, Law qualifications


You may need to meet minimal entry requirements before you are able to undertake a certain level aof qualification.


Levels of Qualifications:                                                               Completion time

Intermediate – (equivalent to 5 good gcse’s)                             1 year to 18 months

Advanced – (equivalent to 2 A’Levels)                                        2 years

Higher – (Equivalent to a foundation degree)                           3 – 6 years

Degree – (Bachelors or masters)                                                 3 – 6 years


Unless you are exempt from certain modules of the qualification you are not able to ‘fast track’ and complete the qualification early. Apprenticeships are about competency as well as knowledge.



The minimum age for an apprenticeship is 16 years or older and no longer in full time education, however there is no upper age limit for an Apprenticeship. 


Different Types of Apprenticeships

At the present time there are two main types – Frameworks and Standards.

Frameworks are mainly qualification based on four main sections; knowledge based qualification; functional skills, rights and responsibilities and Personal Learning and Thinking skills (PLTS). This qualification is usually gained by assessments throughout the qualification period which are knowledge and competency based.

However, from 2020 Framework Apprenticeships will no longer be offered.  The Government are withdrawing them from the academic year 2020 / 2021 with the last date for the new starts being 31st July 2020 - although some qualifications may cease to exist before this date as the Issuing Authorities stop offering them.

Standards have been developed to meet the needs of the Employer and the Industry.  They have been developed by professionals in the Industry that you will be competent in. For this type of Apprenticeship you will need to learn the skills, knowledge and behaviour that is thought appropriate for this industry by the end of the Apprenticeship. You will then go through a ‘gateway system,’ which checks that you have gained all the skills and knowledge required to meet the qualification expectation, and then onto an ‘end point assessment’ which is where your knowledge and competence is assessed in a variety of ways before you are awarded your qualification. If you do not pass the first time you can go through the assessment process again.

The difference between a Levy Apprenticeship and a non-levy Apprenticeship?

There is no difference to the Apprenticeship itself, levy and non-levy refers to how the qualification has been paid for.

If your Employer has a wage bill over £3 million they are required by law to pay into a ‘levy’ pot for apprenticeship training.  The money for the Apprenticeship training and the end point assessment will be made from this ‘pot’.  (There are rules set down by the Government regarding the contribution to the pot and funding (link).  However, if your Employer does not fall into this category then they will need to make a contribution to your Apprenticeship Training and the Government will pay the rest.  From 1st April 2019 the employer would be required to pay 5% of the cost.  There are some exceptions to this where the Employer is not required to make a contribution and may even get a grant from the Government for having an Apprentice, and these will be discussed with the Training Provider at the time of enrolment.


In both instances no payment should be made by the Apprentice for the Training or End point assessment costs.

Want to know more specific details ? - go to the section on Apprenticeship rights to see more about the make-up of an apprenticeship.

We want to make sure Apprentices on the Isle of Wight are treated fairly and have the support and guidance that they deserve