Frequently asked questions

Apprenticeships are jobs, incorporating skills development, technical knowledge and practical experience, through a work-based training programme, leading to an industry recognised qualification. In the NHS, apprenticeship programmes include nursing, health and social care, business administration & clerical, finance, IT & digital, estates and facilities including mechanical and electrical engineering and many more. For more information, check out the frequently asked questions below.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a genuine job with a minimum 1 year fixed term contract. It incorporates skills development, technical knowledge and practical experience, through a work-based training programme, leading to an industry recognised qualification.

What types of apprenticeship roles are there?

Programmes include nursing, health and social care, business administration & clerical, finance, IT & digital, estates and facilities including mechanical and electrical engineering, dental and pharmacy services, amongst many more. Visit: Institute of Apprenticeship standards or Skills for Health apprenticeship standards

for more information.

What is the definition of a ‘genuine job’?

The definition of the term ‘genuine’ job states apprentices must have a contract of employment, long enough to complete the apprenticeship programme, and a job role that provides them with the opportunity to gain the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to achieve their apprenticeship.

Who can do an apprenticeship?

Absolutely anyone can apply over the age of 16. Recent data shows that 60% of NHS apprentices are over 25 years old.

How long does an apprenticeship take?

The minimum duration for an apprenticeship is 12 months and they typically take between one and four years to complete depending on the level and type of role.

How much time does an apprentice need to dedicate to study?

An apprentice must spend an equivalent of 20 per cent of their contract hours on ‘study’. This is mandatory, however the approach can be flexible and is dependent on the apprentice role e.g. it does not necessarily mean an apprentice must attend college, or be away from the employer’s premises, but they must undertake some sort of training/development activity away from their day to day job, in order to learn and practice their skills and knowledge.

What are the benefits of recruiting an apprentice?

Key benefits include:

  • Building skills in the workforce and retaining staff
    • Retention: Train and develop existing workforce
    • Recruitment: New starters and attract new talent
    • Widening participation: Encourages diversity in the workforce
  • Providing cost-effective training via ‘Earn and Learn’ apprenticeship schemes
  • Boosting productivity in the workplace

Read the NHS Employers list of apprenticeship benefits to the NHS here.

What levels of apprenticeship are there?

There are a range of apprenticeship levels that lead to different qualifications.

Apprenticeship level Level descriptor Equivalent qualification
Level 1 Foundation level apprenticeship Five GCSEs graded D-G
Level 2 Intermediate level apprenticeship Five GCSEs graded A*-C, NVQ level 2, key skills level 2, BTEC first diploma and certificate
Level 3 Advanced level apprenticeship Two A/AS levels (any grade), NVQ level 2, key skills level 3, BTEC diplomas, certificates and awards
Level 4 Higher level apprenticeship Certificate of higher education (first year of bachelor’s degree), NVQ 4
Level 5 Higher level apprenticeship Diploma of higher education, Foundation degree (second year of bachelor’s degree)
Level 6 Degree level apprenticeship Bachelor’s degree
Level 7 Degree level apprenticeship Master’s degree

* All apprenticeships lead to industry recognised standards or qualifications. Some apprenticeships also require an assessment at the end of the programme to assess the apprentice`s ability and competence to do their job.

How much would should an employer pay an apprentice?

You must pay your apprentice for time spent training or studying for a relevant qualification, whether this is at work or attending a college/ training organisation. The current minimum wage rate for an apprentice is £3.70* per hour and applies to those under 19 years old, and those aged 19 and over who are in their first year (*figures correct as of 1 April 2018).

Those aged 19 or over who have completed their first year must be paid at the national minimum wage rate. Pay levels above the statutory wage floor are for employers and workers to agree. However, the government strongly encourages employers to pay more when they can afford it.

What terms and conditions should an apprenticeship get?

The NHS Staff Council has jointly issued general guidance on apprenticeships in the NHS that provides some details on apprenticeship agreements and approaches to pay. Read their new guidance Apprenticeships in the NHS.

Apprentices must be offered the same conditions as other employees working at similar grades or in similar roles. This includes paid holidays, sick pay, any benefits you offer such as childcare vouchers and any support you offer such as coaching or mentoring.

How do employers choose a training provider?

You will be able use your online account to search for and select an appropriate apprenticeship framework or standard. You can then search for and select a training provider, or providers, in your area who are approved to deliver the training.

Find out how to ensure the procurement process is accessible and inclusive, including how to choose an inclusive training provider, by reading the NHS Employers procurement resource.

What happens on completion of an apprenticeship?

On completion, an apprentice should remain with their employer where a job opportunity continues to exist. Where this is not possible, they must be supported to seek alternative opportunities.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will monitor apprentice destination data to ensure that job roles are genuine and are not created purely for the purposes of an apprenticeship programme.

What is the apprenticeship levy?

Introduced in April 2017 as a UK tax on employers to fund apprenticeship training. In the current tax year 2018-19 it is payable by all employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3m at a rate of 0.5% of their total pay bill.   To find out more about the levy, visit our dedicated web page.