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What is an Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a vocational work-based training programme designed around the needs of employers, which leads to a national recognised qualification.
Apprenticeships are used to train new and existing employees and provide them with new skills that will help to develop them in their chosen role.
Anyone over the age of 16, who is not in full time education, can apply to be an apprentice. It allows the employee to earn while they learn, whilst gaining a nationally recognised qualification. An apprenticeship must provide for a practical period of work and training that lasts for a minimum duration of 12 months.

Apprenticeships in primary care

Depending on the roles within a practice, apprenticeships in the clinical roles of HCAs and Assistant Practitioners are available, but also such roles as business administration or customer services for receptionists and administrative staff; digital media for website design and maintenance; IT apprenticeships for the IT technicians; leadership and management or even facilities management for practice managers and their support. Most job roles will have an associated apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships standards

A range of Apprenticeship Standards are under development which set out what an apprentice will need to do, and the skills they require to carry out their role competently. Healthcare Apprenticeships Standards Online (HASO), an online system commissioned by Health Education England, stores apprenticeship standards that are commonly used in healthcare settings. HASO is a one-stop-shop for apprenticeship standards, enabling you to search for and download standards that are in development or are approved and ready to use.

Levels of apprenticeship qualifications

  • Level 2 – Intermediate (equivalent to GCSE passes at grades A* to C)
  • Level 3 – Advanced (equivalent to A level passes)
  • Levels 4 and 5 – Higher (equivalent to Foundation degree and above)
  • Levels 6 and 7 (equivalent to Bachelor’s or master’s degree)

Apprenticeships can take between one and five years to complete and are available in 1,500 occupations across 170 industries.

Find an apprenticeship

The ‘Find apprenticeship training’ service allows you to search for apprenticeship training by job role or keyword, and find training providers who offer the apprenticeship training you choose.

Use the Apprenticeship job filter to find opportunities available in your area via the NHS jobs website –

Information for employers

“Apprenticeships offer employers a structured learning programme adaptable to meet the needs of your service.” Skills for Care

Benefits of apprentices for employers

Why take on a new apprentice?

  • To instil your values, behaviours and working practices from day one – you will not be unpicking bad habits
  • Often taking on a young person on an apprenticeship you will gain a different aspect on your service from the viewpoint of  someone who is form part of the community that you serve
  • Potential reduction of recruitment costs as the training provider usually administers the recruitment processes from advert to shortlisting allowing you to just interview and select your apprentice.

Why train existing staff as apprentices?

  • They receive accreditation and validation for the job that they have been doing
  • They will bring new skills and knowledge into the workplace and cascade them to other staff
  • It is a cost effective way of training staff as training fees are heavily subsidised for smaller organisations.
  • It could lead to staff undertaking more complex skills, which will in turn release other staff to undertake new roles
  • Staff can undertake new/enhanced roles such as care navigator, which will lead to better job satisfaction and retention.

You can advertise your apprenticeship with your training provider through the find an apprenticeship service.


Employers must sign an apprenticeship agreement with the apprentice which includes:

  • how long you’ll employ them for
  • the training which will be given
  • their working conditions
  • confirmation of ‘off the job training’
  • the qualifications they are working toward

What is off the job training?

To be eligible for government funding at least 20% of an apprentice’s normal working hours, over the planned duration of the apprenticeship practical period must be spent on off-the-job training. Off-the-job training is a statutory requirement for an English apprenticeship. It is training, which is received by the apprentice, during the apprentice’s normal working hours, for the purpose of achieving the knowledge, skills and behaviours of the approved apprenticeship referenced in the apprenticeship agreement. Off-the-job training must deliver new skills that are directly relevant to the apprenticeship.

It can include the following: the teaching of theory (for example, lectures, role playing, simulation exercises, online learning); practical training, shadowing, mentoring/supervision or learning support and time spent writing assessments/assignments. Further guidance can be provided by the Training Provider.

Employers can write your own apprentice agreement or download an apprenticeship agreement template.

Employers will also need to sign a commitment statement with the apprentice and the training organisation. It must include:

  • the planned content and schedule for training
  • what is expected and offered by the employer, the training organisation and the apprentice
  • how to resolve queries or complaints
How much will it cost?

As apprentices are employees you will have to pay their salary. There is a minimum wage for apprentices, which is currently £4.40 an hour (June 2017), however most employers pay more in order to make the apprenticeship attractive to a range of people. However, if an existing member of staff is undertaking an apprenticeship, you may continue paying them the same salary.

Where the employer does not pay the apprenticeship levy at the start of the apprenticeship, it will be funded through government employer co-investment for its duration unless the apprentice changes employer. Employers, who do not pay the apprenticeship levy, are able to access the apprenticeship service to reserve government-employer co-investment for apprenticeships. Further information about reserving funds can be found here.

If you reserve funds the government will pay 95% of the fees and you will pay the remaining 5%. Your training provider can also reserve funds on your behalf.

Levy transfer

Levy-paying employers can transfer a percentage of their levy funds, which were declared for the previous tax year, to other employers. The transfer allowance percentage is currently set at 25%. The transfer allowance will be calculated from the total amount of levy declared during the previous tax year, with the English percentage applied, plus the 10% government top-up payment. In order to receive a transfer you will need to set up a Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS) account with ESFA. For more information read Apprenticeship funding rules and guidance for employers.

There are also various allowances which can also be claimed for example additional payments totalling £1,000 for training provider and £1,000 for the employer if the apprentice is defined as a 16- to 18-year-old or an eligible 19- to 24-year-old as described in the Funding Rules. The training provider will advise you if there are additional payments which can be claimed for.

In addition from 1 August 2020: You will be eligible to receive an incentive payment for hiring a new apprentice for an apprenticeship start if, at the start of the apprenticeship, the apprentice is a new employee. Payments have been introduced to support employers who hire new apprentices between 1 August 2020 and 31 March 2021. You can apply for the payment until 30 April 2021. The payment is different to apprenticeship levy funds, so you can spend it on anything to support your organisation’s costs. For example, on uniforms, your apprentice’s travel or their salary. You do not have to pay it back.

For apprentices aged:

  • 16 to 24, employers will receive £2,000
  • 25 and over, employers will receive £1,500

Need more help or information? Contact Claire Wardle, Programme Manager (Nurse Expansion) South East HEE,


Page last reviewed: 16 March, 2022