Whether a start-up, large corporate or SME, many companies currently operate Apprenticeship programmes. They recognise the enormous impact that employing apprentices has on the business, both bottom line and culturally, as well as diversifying the skills and age of their workforce.

For every £1 invested in apprentices, the UK economy is boosted by £28, making them a great investment for the future of your own business as well as local commerce. They also offer the chance to build a loyal and dedicated work force, along with the opportunity to mould employees and help them rise through the ranks. And if your business is part of one of the many sectors to be suffering from a shortage of skills, apprentices can help bridge the gap and boost productivity.


Apprenticeship funding flow chart

With the changes of the Apprenticeship Levy, working out the funding for taking on an apprentice can be confusing! The flowchart below has been provided by Manchester Metropolitan University to help you determine your organisation’s funding position – give it a try!

Does the employer have an annual pay bill in excess of £3m?


Click a question to display the answer.

What’s the difference between a Traineeship and an Apprenticeship?

Traineeships are aimed at giving 16-24 year-olds the opportunity to develop the skills they need to find, and succeed in, employment or progress onto an Apprenticeship. They are comprised of three main elements to prepare you for an Apprenticeship, including English and Maths, work preparation skills and a practical work placement with a local employer. Traineeships are unpaid (however travel expenses and costs of meals may be reimbursed) and should be viewed as a stepping stone into work. They can last anywhere between six weeks and six months. Apprenticeships are designed to enable an individual to progress within a business over a longer period of time whilst gaining nationally recognised qualifications. An Apprenticeship is a career, not just a job. Apprenticeships are for those aged 16 or over who are  not in full time education and can last anywhere between one and six years.

How much will taking on a trainee or apprentice cost me?

Taking on an apprentice is good value for money and it is possible to receive government funding to cover the costs of training. As of the 1st April 2020, the National Minimum Wage for Apprentices is £4.15 an hour, although many employers choose to pay a higher rate.

What will I gain from hiring a trainee or apprentice?

By taking on a trainee or apprentice, you are making a commitment to developing an individual who will learn the job-specific skills required within your business. In return, they’ll learn your company’s culture and begin contributing to your bottom line more and more the longer they are with you. It’s estimated that the average apprentice contributes £28 to their employer for every £1 spent on them.

How difficult is the process?

Developing a scheme and taking on a trainee or apprentice needn’t be difficult. There are numerous learning providers in Greater Manchester who will be able to support you through the process and reduce the demand on your time to get things up and running. To identify your nearest provider, please use our regional map.

Will I be responsible for training?

While you may want to deliver training in-house, many businesses choose to outsource training to learning providers. Your chosen learning provider will work with you to develop a tailored training programme to ensure your trainee or apprentice gets the best start in their career with you. To identify your nearest learning provider, check out our regional map.

What happens at the end of the Apprenticeship?

At the end of their Apprenticeship, you may wish to offer your apprentice a permanent position or the opportunity to apply for a permanent position within your company. Having spent at least a year learning the ins and outs of the business, and having received on average £10,000 worth of training (dependant on government funding available), you will have developed a capable individual ready to work, so why let another company benefit from your investment?

How do I get involved?

The easiest way to begin developing an Apprenticeship scheme is to get in touch with Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce who can help to put you in touch with the most appropriate learning provider, and who will be on hand to advise on the process to make things as simple as possible for you.

What is the Apprenticeship levy?

The Apprenticeship levy was introduced in April 2017 and requires all employers operating in the UK, with a pay bill over £3 million each year, to make an investment in apprenticeships. You can benefit from this investment by training apprentices. The levy is charged at a rate of 0.5% of your annual pay bill and provides employers with an allowance of £15,000 per year to offset against the levy. Follow the link to find out more about calculating what you pay. The levy is paid to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) through the Pay as You Earn (PAYE) process. Funding will roll over if not spent each month but will expire 24 months after it enters your digital account. Example of how the levy will be applied:

  • Employer of 250 employees, each with a gross salary of £20,000.
  • Pay bill: 250 x £20,000 = £5,000,000
  • Levy sum: 0.5% x £5,000,000 = £25,000
  • Allowance (£15,000): £25,000 – £15,000 = £10,000 annual levy payment

What can I spend apprenticeship funding on?

Funds in your digital account provided by the Apprenticeship Levy can only be used towards the costs of apprenticeship training and end point assessment. This must be with an approved training provider and assessment organisation. It can’t be used on other costs associated with your apprentices or wider training effort. For example wages, statutory licences to practise, travel and subsidiary costs, managerial costs, traineeships, work placement programmes or the costs of setting up an apprenticeship programme.

What happens if my apprentice programme started before April 2017?

Apprentices who have been accepted on to an apprenticeship programme before April 2017 will be funded for the full duration of the apprenticeship under the terms and conditions that were in place at the time the apprenticeship started. This will be the case for apprentices following programmes underpinned by both apprenticeship ‘frameworks’ and new ‘apprenticeship standards’. Where the apprenticeship requires you to make a payment to the provider or to the Skills Funding Agency, this will continue at the same rate. If you pay the apprenticeship levy you will not be able to use the funds in your digital account to pay for these apprenticeships.

What happens if I am not a Levy payer?

If you are not a levy payer, you are still be able to access some government funding for part of the costs but you will also need to make a payment as a ‘co-investment’.

What other help and support can I get?

The Apprenticeship Growth service focuses on SME’s and enabling growth through skills. Specialist, impartial advisors will be able to advise you on what benefits your business could reap from upskilling, training or recruiting staff. For more information please contact: t: 0161 359 3050 e: info@businessgrowthhub.com

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