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10-step process for taking on an apprentice

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Adding new talent to your business via apprenticeships is a smart move. But it’s a little different to recruiting other employees and the process can seem overwhelming. Here we break down the process of getting an apprentice.

Firstly, the good news is you don’t have to go it alone. You can get support from an approved apprenticeship training provider like Kaplan.

We offer a full range of accountancy and tax, banking and financial services, and data and technology apprenticeships. And we will be with you every step of the way – from helping you identify your training needs to finding the best candidates and delivering the programme once your new apprentice is on board.

Ready to get started?

1. Begin with the role

First, identify the job an apprentice would fill in your business. Remember, apprenticeships aren’t just for people in the early stages of their career – they can also provide opportunities for middle-ranking and senior roles.

At Kaplan our courses, or ‘apprenticeship programmes’, to give them their official name, range from Level 2 (for roles such as Credit Controller or Finance Assistant), to Level 3 (moving up to jobs such as Software Development Technician or Assistant Accountant), to Level 4 (think Internal Audit Practitioner or Data Analyst), on to Level 6 (for roles such as Financial Services Professional or Senior Compliance Risk Specialist), and finally Level 7 (for your Senior Investment/Commercial Banking Professional, or Accounting and Taxation Professional).

All can be delivered through an apprenticeship with seamless progression from one level to another.

2. Create an apprenticeship service account

All apprenticeships in England must be managed through the government’s apprenticeship service – an online portal through which you can manage your apprenticeships.

To create an account you will need an email address, permission to add your PAYE schemes to the account, and permission to accept the employer agreement on behalf of your organisation. You’ll also need either the Government Gateway login for your organisation, or your accounts office reference number (AORN) and employer PAYE scheme reference number.

3. Know your funding

While you’re at this early stage, you’ll need to get to grips with funding. For employers in England, this varies depending on the size of your company.

If you have an annual payroll of more than £3m, you’re already investing in the apprenticeship levy. Your contributions will appear in your online apprenticeship service account, as detailed above. You can use these funds to cover the cost of apprenticeship training and End Point Assessment with an approved training provider like Kaplan.

Levy funds can’t be used towards an apprentice’s wages or wider training programme – and after 24 months, any unused funds will expire and return to the government.

If you don’t pay the apprenticeship levy, or if you use all your levy funds and want to engage in more apprenticeship training, you will pay 5% of the apprenticeship course cost, and the government will cover the remaining 95%.

Organisations with fewer than 50 employees can get full training costs funded for young apprentices.

There are also incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice. And you can get employers’ National Insurance relief for any apprentice under 25.

4. Find a training provider

Once you’ve chosen your apprenticeship standard, your next step is to pick a training provider to deliver it.

Finding a training provider that’s right for your business is really important. Consider how well they communicate with you about the training, what other employers say about them, and how apprentices rate them.

At Kaplan, we are trusted by industry as 75 of the FTSE 100 companies use us for training. We are also top-rated by apprentices – voted No.8 in a list of the top 50 apprenticeship providers on Rate My Apprenticeship.

We will work together to source the best candidate for your role and we are committed to supporting and guiding candidates through the whole recruitment process, making sure both the apprentice and employer are the perfect fit.

- Tanya Widdop, Recruitment Team Leader - Kaplan Financial

5. Set the salary

The government has set a minimum apprenticeship wage, but many employers decide to pay more to attract the best candidates.

6. Advertise your apprenticeship

Now’s the time to attract some talent! You can work with your training provider to advertise your vacancy. At Kaplan, your apprenticeship will be advertised on the most relevant sourcing channels including Find an Apprenticeship, GetMyFirstJob, CareerMap, and our own website. We also proactively search for high calibre candidates using the GetMyFirstJob database and our own pool of more than 1,000 active candidates.

Your advert should cover all the basics such as the apprenticeship qualifications offered, the job location, starting salary, any benefits, a description of the role and typical duties. It’s also useful to include any skills or interests that are desirable. For example, if you’re hiring a Financial Services Senior Customer Adviser apprentice, you’ll want someone who is a good communicator, likes problem solving and can maintain confidentiality.

7. Shortlist applicants and conduct the interviews

This is the time-consuming part, but your training provider can help. At Kaplan, our Recruitment Team will screen candidates via a telephone or video interview to establish their drive and motivation for the role, as well as their culture fit for your organisation. We aim to understand their personalities, strengths and weaknesses, and what they’re looking for in their careers.

We’ll assess whether an apprenticeship is the right route for the applicants, and go through any candidate-specific circumstances to ensure they are successful during their apprenticeship. We’ll then send you the screened shortlist for your review and the final decision is yours.

Our Recruitment Team will then help you organise interviews with the selected candidates. We will conduct preparation sessions with them to ensure they feel ready and fully equipped before meeting you. Bear in mind that some younger candidates won’t have much work experience. Let them talk about their life skills, and use the interview to see if they show enthusiasm for the apprenticeship.

If you prefer handling the recruitment process yourself, we are also able to provide a less extensive service whereby we can advertise vacancies and direct suitable candidates to your own online application page.

8. Sign an apprenticeship agreement

Once you’ve chosen your apprentice, you’ll need to sign an apprenticeship agreement with them. This gives details of the skill, trade or occupation the apprentice is being trained for; the name of the apprenticeship they’re working towards; the start and end dates for the apprenticeship; and the amount of training you’ll give them.

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

9. Confirm your commitment statement

You must sign a commitment statement with your apprentice and the training provider. It must include the planned content and schedule for training; what is expected and offered by the employer, the training provider and the apprentice; and how to resolve queries or complaints.

Your commitment statement will also set out how you intend to meet the requirement for your apprentice to spend 20% of their paid working hours doing off-the-job training. Take a look at our blog to get an idea of what counts as off-the-job training.

10. Support your apprentice

To give your apprentice the greatest chance of success, you’ll want to offer encouragement and support, along with the practical training. Help them find their feet by providing a thorough induction. Include them in social enrichment and networking opportunities, and keep an eye on their mental health and wellbeing.

Supported to achieve their full potential, at the end of their programme your apprentices will pull together all their technical knowledge, skills and behaviour training to demonstrate competence across the whole apprenticeship standard – giving you greater confidence your apprentices can deliver the best results within your business.

Ready to hire an apprentice?

To keep these steps simple, we have focused on new starters. But you can check out our blog on how to upskill your current employees through apprenticeships.

And if you’re ready to recruit an apprentice, find out more about how we help employers.