How to hire an apprentice

Blogs 12 Aug 2020

Our guide will take you through the process of hiring an apprentice and what you need to do, from choosing an apprenticeship standard to filling out the right paperwork.


Whether you’re looking to expand your team, find new talent or add new skills to your business, hiring an apprentice is a cost-effective solution.

Apprenticeships are in the spotlight due to the government’s plan to kickstart the economy. It was announced in the Budget that employers in England will receive an incentive of £3,000 for each new apprentice they hire, of any age, until September 2021. A new “flexi-job” apprenticeship programme in England was also announced that will enable apprentices to work with a number of employers in one sector - more details on this are expected.

The government has published detailed guidance for employers in England hiring an apprentice from 1 August 2020 – there is additional information available if you’re in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships combine on-the-job training with studying towards a work-based qualification, typically one day a week, from GCSEs or equivalent up to degree level. It usually takes between one and four years to complete an apprenticeship.

Adding an apprentice to your team can be hugely beneficial for your small business. It’s a great way to develop new skills, grow your business and foster loyalty.

So, how do I hire an apprentice?

Here are some of the key steps you need to follow.

1. Register for a digital Apprenticeship Service account

Registering for an account at the beginning of your journey will make the entire process a lot easier when it comes to finding a training provider and recruiting an apprentice.

You’ll be able to use the account to:

  • get apprenticeship funding
  • find and save apprenticeships
  • find, save and manage training providers
  • recruit apprentices
  • add and manage apprenticeships                   
2. Choose an apprenticeship standard

Think about which skills and training would be beneficial for your business in the future, or areas of your business you want to expand.

Apprenticeships are available across a wide range of industries, including IT, accounting, engineering and finance. There are currently over 550 apprenticeship standards to choose from. Visit the Institute for Apprenticeships for more information about apprenticeships standards.

The government has an online portal that you can use as an employer to find apprenticeship training options. Search by job role or area to see what will fit your business needs best.

3. Find a training provider

Once you’ve picked a course, your next step is to find an organisation to deliver it. The online portal will also show you different training providers that offer your chosen course. You’ll want to look at what they offer and choose the best fit for both your business and your apprentice.

If you’re unsure, having a conversation with your local college, or asking other businesses with apprentices about their training provider, can be a useful place to start. Your digital Apprenticeship Service account can also offer support here.

4. Organise your paperwork

Hiring an apprentice is much like hiring a regular employee, so you’ll want to ensure you’re up-to-date and compliant with employment law from the beginning.

For example, employer’s liability insurance is a legal requirement for all employers, as well as the necessary risk assessments and health and safety documents.

Understanding the differences in contracts, such as the requirement to complete off-the-job learning, will help to make the process a lot easier and smoother.

5. Work out the costs

Before you jump into looking for candidates, you’ll want to run the numbers, such as training costs and your funding eligibility. Training costs vary depending on the apprenticeship standard you choose.

Our guide to funding explains all the costs and funding associated with an apprenticeship scheme, including training, wages and off-the-job opportunities.

Employers in England will receive an incentive of £3,000 for each new apprentice they hire, of any, age until September 2021. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the government provides for apprentices who are aged 16 to 18, and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care plan.

6. Advertise your apprenticeship

It’s time to find some talent! Your training organisation can support you with this through the find an apprenticeship service.

Your job description should detail the qualifications offered, the typical duties that will be carried out and any experience or interests that are desirable. For example, if you’re hiring a customer service practitioner apprentice, you’ll want someone who is confident, a good communicator and manages their time well.

7. Interview for your apprenticeship

The interview process for hiring an apprentice is the same as if you were interviewing for a normal employee, except it’s likely they won’t have a CV full of experience and qualifications to back them up. That’s why they’ve come to you – to learn from the experts!

Ask them why they think an apprenticeship is right for them, what they know about your company and where they see themselves in the future.

You can use the interview to see if they show enthusiasm towards their chosen career path and if they’ll be a good fit for your team.

8. Sign an apprenticeship agreement

Once you’ve chosen your apprentice, you’ll need to sign an apprentice agreement with them, covering the length of employment, the training provided, their working conditions and the qualifications they will be working towards.  Please refer to our template apprenticeship agreements and apprenticeship factsheet, which are available on the FSB Legal Hub.

9. Write your commitment statement

An important aspect of an apprenticeship is off-the-job training requirements that employers and training providers need to meet. The government has a handy guide to whether an activity counts as off-the-job training. It includes activities like meeting with tutors, completing assignments or taking online courses.

A commitment statement covers this and must include:

  • the planned content and schedule for training
  • what is expected and offered by the employer, the training organisation and the apprentice
  • how any complaints or queries will be handled
10. Get settled

Congratulations, you’ve got a new apprentice!

Starting an apprenticeship is both exciting and daunting, especially if this is someone’s first experience in the world of work. Help them to feel included in the team and make sure they’re familiar with their training course and what’s expected of them.

Where can I get more information?

Whether you’re looking to expand a department or you could use some additional support, you can find an apprenticeship online to see what’s on offer.

Visit the Apprenticeships employer hub for more information about hiring an apprentice or learn more on the government’s website.

Ready to hire an apprentice?

Get answers to your employment questions 24/7 with our employment advice line. FSB members can also visit FSB Legal Hub, home to all the employment documents, letters, templates and fact sheets your business needs.


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