What is an apprenticeship?
Author: Sarah Taylor
An apprenticeship is a training program which combines on-the-job training with a qualification to ensure that the apprentice develops the skills, knowledge and behaviours required to effectively perform their role.
An apprenticeship combines work and study, by combining on-the-job training with classroom learning. Apprentices study for a formal qualification, usually for one day a week at college, alongside working in a related job and by the end of the apprenticeship, they will have developed the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in their current role or move on to the next apprenticeship level.
Apprentices follow an approved study program leading to a nationally recognised qualification by the end of the apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are available at a range of levels in a variety of topics. Below is a table explaining the qualification level gain:
What is the 20% off-the-job training element?
All apprentices are entitled to at least 20% ‘off-the-job’ training. The National Apprenticeship Service defines off-the-job training as:
“learning which is undertaken outside of the normal day-to-day working environment and leads towards the achievement of an apprenticeship”
Apprenticeships should be used to upskill employees and apprentices need time to reach this level of competency, so the 20% off-the-job training ensures that employers are investing in the apprentices’ development.
The 20% off-the-job element is the equivalent of 1 day per week for a full-time member of staff, but doesn’t necessarily need to be delivered in this way – some training providers will deliver the learning element in a block or even delivery some elements as e-learning, allowing greater flexibility.
A common myth is that apprentices will spend a lot of time away from the workplace because of the 20% off-the-job training element, however, this is not necessarily the case. The 20% should be used to attend college and for writing assignments but should also be used when the apprentice is learning new skills in the workplace. This may be when they are learning new processes, receiving mentoring, completing e-learning or attending internal or external training courses. Any learning completed should be relevant to the apprenticeship standard or framework and should teach the apprentice new skills, knowledge or behaviour to ensure that it is beneficial for them.
What are the benefits of completing an apprenticeship?
- Gain a qualification while you work
- Reinforce knowledge gained by studying by putting it into practice in the workplace
- Develop your skills and knowledge in your subject areas or in an area that interests you.
- Be given the time to study
- A range of different levels are available which means there’s something for everyone.
What are the benefits of taking on an apprentice?
There are many benefits to employing an apprentice, or upskilling an existing member of staff with an apprenticeship. Studies by the National Apprenticeship Service have found that 75% of employers with an established apprenticeship program saw an improvement in the quality of service and saw a massive improvement in productivity.
- Employee satisfaction and engagement improve as they feel valued and invested in
- Improvements in employee satisfaction lead to lower staff turnover
- Apprenticeships can be used to develop talent in specialist skills areas where it may be difficult to recruit suitable candidates.
- Helps to reinforce a strong learning culture