An apprenticeship is an opportunity to grow your own talent pipeline by employing staff who develop their skills on-the-job whilst following an approved learning programme. Imperial has funding available to train apprentices and a dedicated member of staff to help departments get apprenticeships off the ground. Nearly all apprentices feel that they acquire or improve their skills as a direct result of their apprenticeship and 76% of employers say that productivity has improved, with 75% reporting that apprenticeships have improved the quality of their product or service (ESFA).

Apprenticeships work well for:

  • Hard-to-fill posts
  • Roles where skills gaps are anticipated
  • Entry-level posts where a new starter might benefit from a structured programme of support
  • Posts at any level where training and funded qualifications might help to secure a strong candidate
  • Giving staff in your team an opportunity to manage or mentor by having an apprentice on board

Existing staff can also benefit!

Apprenticeships are available at a variety of levels, right through to Masters, and across a range of professions. Keep them in mind for existing staff who need to gain new skills, who are moving into new roles or who would like to do a professional qualification. They are a great way to upskill and engage!

Frequently Asked Questions for Managers

What is the Apprenticeship Levy?

The Apprenticeship Levy is a Government initiative to increase the level of investment in skills and training. It applies to employers across the UK with a paybill in excess of £3 million. The College has been paying the Apprenticeship Levy since April 2017, with annual payments in the region of £1.8 million. We can draw on our Levy payments to fund training for apprentices, who may be new staff or existing employees.

What is an apprenticeship?

There is a tendency to associate the term ‘apprenticeship’ with training for younger people who are new to the workplace. While this remains a very important activity, apprenticeships are available for staff at any stage of their career and at a variety of levels, right through to Masters, allowing new and existing staff to gain new skills and qualifications on the job. An apprenticeship combines hands-on, workplace experience with formal, off-the-job training. An apprenticeship should last for a minimum of 12 months and an apprentice must spend at least 20% of their time (or 42 days a year) on off-the-job training. In order to draw on funding from the Levy, training must be delivered by an accredited training provider and the apprentice must work towards an approved Framework or Standard. The apprenticeship may involve a formal qualification and will usually include an end-point assessment of the apprentice’s knowledge and practical capabilities.

What are the benefits of having an apprentice?

Apprenticeships are an excellent way to develop the skills we need for the future, building our talent pipeline. They bring new skills and perspectives into the organisation, provide an opportunity for existing staff to re-train or gain formal qualifications as they progress in their careers and allow senior staff to pass on knowledge. Our established apprenticeship schemes are building vital pipelines of talented staff: technicians to support the work of our world-class workshops; maintenance technicians to keep our buildings and facilities running smoothly; and animal technicians to care for the animals used by the College for research. The Apprenticeship Levy makes funds available centrally for apprenticeship training and end-point assessment, so there has never been a better time to think about taking on an apprentice!

What job roles can an apprenticeship be in?

Apprenticeships are traditionally associated with sectors like construction and engineering, but there are now hundreds of different apprenticeships across a wide range of professions, from business administration to chartered management to laboratory support. Apprenticeships are also available at a range of levels:

Apprenticeship

Level

Equivalent educational level

 Intermediate

 2

 5 GCSE passes at grades A* to C

 Advanced

 3

 2 A level passes

 Higher

 4, 5, 6 and 7

 Foundation degree and above

 Degree

 6 and 7

 Bachelor’s or master’s degree

 The Apprenticeships Manager can help you to identify apprenticeships for specific job roles.

What are Apprenticeship Frameworks and Standards?

Following recent Government reforms, the design of apprenticeships is changing. Apprenticeship Frameworks, the traditional, multi-occupational apprenticeship structures developed by sector skills councils, are being phased out and replaced by Apprenticeship Standards. Standards are occupation-specific and, most importantly, designed by groups of employers based on the specific skills, knowledge and behaviours their organisations require. Unlike Frameworks, Standards do not have to include qualifications (although in many cases they still do) and the focus is on end-point assessment of the apprentice’s knowledge and practical skills. Live lists of approved Frameworks and Standards are available at GOV.UK and the Apprenticeships Manager can also advise.

What is off-the-job training?

An apprentice must spend at least 20% of their time (or 42 days a year) on off-the-job training. Off-the-job training is defined by the Education and Skills Funding Agency as learning which is undertaken outside of the normal day-to-day working environment and leads towards the achievement of the apprenticeship. It can include training that is delivered at the apprentice’s normal place of work but must not be delivered as part of their normal working duties. It can include:

  • the teaching of theory (for example: lectures, role playing, simulation exercises, online learning or manufacturer training);
  • practical training (for example shadowing, mentoring, industry visits and attendance at competitions);
  • learning support and time spent writing assessments/ assignments. 

There is some flexibility around how the training is delivered (this may include regular day release, block release and special training days/workshops). However, training which takes place outside the apprentice’s normal working hours cannot count towards the 20%.

Can an existing employee do an apprenticeship?

Yes, and the College is particularly interested in encouraging managers, and their staff, to consider the benefits of access to new learning and skills that an apprenticeship could bring. With the approval of their line manager and department, an existing employee can do an apprenticeship and their training can be funded from the Apprenticeship Levy, provided that:

  • they are working towards an approved Apprenticeship Framework or Trailblazer Standard
  • they are studying with an accredited training provider
  • their training lasts for at least 12 months
  • they will spend at least 20% of their time on off-the-job training
  • the content of their training is materially different from any prior qualification or a previous apprenticeship
  • they will attain skills in Maths and English as part of the apprenticeship (if they do not have GCSE at grade A* to C already at the outset).

The employee’s job title would not change (they would only be an apprentice for the purpose of the Apprenticeship Levy) and there would not be any change to their terms and conditions.

Are there any minimum entry requirements?

Entry requirements depend on the level of the apprenticeship and the Framework or Standard that the apprentice will follow. Entry to intermediate apprenticeships (at level 2) generally require Grade C or above at GCSE in Maths and English. If the apprentice does not have grade C or above at GCSE in English and Maths, they will need to attain these (or a Functional or Key Skills qualification) as part of their apprenticeship. Government funding is available to support this. The Apprenticeships Manager can provide specific advice on entry requirements for different apprenticeships.

Can an individual with prior qualifications do an apprenticeship?

The Levy can be used to fund apprenticeship training for an individual at the same level, or at a lower level, than a current qualification, but only if the apprenticeship will allow the individual to acquire substantive new skills. The content of the training must also be materially different from any prior qualification or a previous apprenticeship.

What are the costs associated with taking on an apprentice?

Funding from the Apprenticeship Levy is available for apprentice training and end-point assessment, but salary costs are borne by the department. Existing staff who become apprentices stay at their existing pay grade. Rates of pay for new apprentices depend on the apprenticeship level. More details are available from the Apprenticeships Manager.

What happens at the end of the apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships for new staff are offered as fixed-term contracts that are long enough for the apprentice to complete their training successfully. On completion, the apprentice will have the opportunity to apply for other positions within the College. There is no guarantee of an open-ended post on completion of an apprenticeship, but the College has a good record of retaining apprentices. For existing staff who draw on the Apprenticeship Levy to undertake training and development, there is no change to terms and conditions.

Can internally-delivered courses be funded by the Apprenticeship Levy?

The Apprenticeship Levy can only be used to fund training delivered by approved training providers as part of a Framework or Standard. The College is not currently acting as an ‘employer-provider’ (i.e. an accredited provider of apprenticeship training to its staff) so the Levy cannot be used to pay for training delivered internally (e.g. by the Learning and Development Centre or Educational Development Unit). Although internal courses do not attract Levy funding, they can complement the apprenticeship training delivered by the approved provider and count towards the apprentice’s off-the-job training.

What support is available to departments?

The Apprenticeships Manager provides support and guidance to departments who are considering developing an apprenticeship. She can advise on the Apprenticeship Levy, help identify appropriate Frameworks or Standards and liaise with training providers. Where apprenticeships are new roles rather than training opportunities for existing staff, she will also help develop a job description and manage the recruitment process.

The Learning and Development Centre offers a range of training that you might find useful, see their webpages for details, or contact the Apprenticeships Manager.

How can I find out about training providers?

The Apprenticeships Manager can help to identify an accredited training provider for a particular Framework or Standard.

Where can I find out more?

Please contact the Apprenticeships Manager for further information on apprenticeships at Imperial and the Apprenticeship Levy. 

How can I find out about recovering Levy costs from research funders?

Detailed guidance on funding is available from the Research Office.