In order to be deemed an apprenticeship, there are a few specific criteria that a programme has to meet. Like any other job, an apprenticeship has to pay minimum wage and it also must offer employment for at least 30 hours a week. Furthermore, it must combine on-the job learning and experience with recognised qualifications.

Black and white image of three young men working in a workshop

Image Credit: National Assembly for Wales/

All apprenticeships must be part of a framework, which are updated and published on the government apprenticeship website. These frameworks cover all the statutory requirements for an apprenticeship programme in England and are used by colleges, employers and training providers to make sure that all apprenticeship programmes are delivered consistently to national standards. There are different frameworks for each subject area but all include a few core elements, which must be completed prior to the completion of the apprenticeship. These include:

  • a competence-based element e.g. NVQ/Diploma.
  • a knowledge-based element/technical certificate e.g. BTEC. (In some cases, this may be combined with the competence-based element.)
  • transferable key skills such as communication, numeracy, etc. and transferable functional skills such as Maths and English qualifications.
  • Employment Rights and Responsibilities (ERR) in the workplace training.

Once your apprentice has finished all the elements of their apprenticeship they'll be eligible for certification via Apprenticeship Certificates England. If you have decided to access government funding directly to provide apprenticeships, you'll be responsible for meeting Ofsted - who are responsible for the external quality assessment of government-funded training - and contractual quality requirements.

For more information about the specific requirements each apprenticeship programme must meet, see the Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England (SASE).


Training Partners:

An apprenticeship programme is generally built in partnership with a training provider such as a private organisation or a college. This training provider will support you by identifying the correct framework for  your business requirements, recruiting an apprentice, developing a training plan that suits you and your apprentice and providing feedback. They will also provide the training and knowledge elements of the programme.

The government website offers a search engine to help you find local training providers. When choosing the most suitable, you might want to think about what framework your apprenticeship would fall in, the age and number of apprentices you want to hire and whether you will integrate your in-house training materials into the programme.

Once you've decided who you're going to work with, you need to create a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to help build a close working relationship. The SLA should set out the responsibilities and duties of each partner, including measures and deadlines that you'll both follow. You may also need a financial contract on top of your SLA.


Programme styles:

Depending on the size of your company, there are a number of ways in which you can build your apprenticeship programme.

LOCALISED APPROACH: The apprenticeship is organised and delivered by the training provider. Apprentices are usually recruited at a local level, with the local business manager. If you need a consistent approach across the whole business, other models might be more suitable.

CORPORATE APPROACH: If your company has a clear corporate strategy for apprenticeships you can design the entire programme yourself and use colleges and/or training providers to deliver the programme on your behalf. This approach means that training is delivered in a consistent way, across the business. You'll usually access government funding directly, in this model.

EMPLOYER IN-HOUSE: In this model, employers organise every aspect of the apprenticeship themselves, including the training elements.  However, if you use this model you may require a training provider to deliver one or two specific elements or qualifications.

EMPLOYER ACADEMY: Highly specialised businesses, such as engineering firms, may choose to deliver apprenticeships through an academy. Academies normally operate as separate business units often with bespoke facilities and dedicated training teams. Training teams are responsible for all elements of the apprenticeship delivery and may be employed directly or through a training provider.


If you are considering setting up an apprenticeship programme, register your interest to begin the process.


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