Apprenticeships are government funded work-based training programmes for people aged 16 and over. They combine on the job training with nationally recognised qualifications at intermediate (level 2), advanced (level 3) and higher levels (level 4 and above). Apprentices can choose a particular career route (framework or standard) and earn wages whilst learning the skills on the job and obtaining a nationally recognised qualification. Although the apprentice is in full time employment for the duration of the programme, the employer may provide a day to attend college to complete core units, functional skills and other work skills and assessments.
Apprenticeship training is fully funded by the Government for 16-18 year olds and part funded for 19-23 years olds. Funding is significantly reduced for apprentices over 24 years of age. Where training is part funded, employers are asked to co-fund the training by directly paying the training provider as an investment to enhance and develop their work force. Smaller employers can benefit from government incentives/grants to help pay for training costs, whereas larger employers, those with annual staff paybill of £3m are required to fund from their digital levy fund, which will be in place from April 2017. (More information is available under the employers section.)