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A formal apprenticeship must be recognised by Government and appear on the list of approved Apprenticeship Frameworks.
A formal apprenticeship is a job that allows someone to gain certification in their field whilst working, and consists of three core elements:
No. To the employer an apprentice is an employee and must be contracted and treated as such.
Yes, in line with their employer’s holiday policy. Apprentices are subject to the same company policies and procedures as any other staff member, including benefits.
Apprentices in Northern Ireland must be contracted and paid for a minimum of 21 hours a week (including their off-the-job training) for at least 12 months.
An apprenticeship usually takes between two and four years. Employers are advised to contract apprentices for the minimum duration recommended for the specific apprenticeship.
No, but employers are encouraged to create apprenticeships with the intention on keeping their apprentice(s) on once they complete.
This isn’t mandated but is deemed preferable. It is advised that an employer’s intentions are made clear to the apprentice throughout so an apprentice can plan their progression accordingly.
Notifying an apprentice that they will not continue in their role only days or weeks before the apprenticeship ends is poor practice.
In Northern Ireland the apprenticeship programmes are subject to different age restrictions:
ApprenticeshipsNI - Level 2 and 3
Higher Level Apprenticeships – Level 4 to Level 7
For those with degrees and other post-16 qualifications, candidates can only have their training funded if their apprenticeship is in a different subject to the existing post-16 qualifications they hold.
Access to Work (NI) can provide support for employers in Northern Ireland making adjustments to support apprentices with a disability into the workplace.
An Employer Incentive Payment ranging from £250 to £1,500 is available for employers whose apprentice successfully completes their full Level 2 or Level 3 apprenticeships framework. This is dependant on the complexity and level of the apprenticeship undertaken and the age of the apprentice on joining the programme.
For step by step guidance on employing and managing apprentices, please refer to our A Manager’s Guide to Apprenticeships.
Apprenticeship Frameworks are made up of Knowledge and Competency units of study, which are delivered as either combined or separate qualifications.
Frameworks are written against National Occupational Standards, which inform the individual units of learning and associated criteria.
Apprentices working to a framework are assessed on a continuous basis throughout their apprenticeship and once all criteria have been successfully passed can achieve their full apprenticeship certificate.
There are three main organisations involved in the delivery of apprenticeships in Northern Ireland:
The Employer – who is responsible for creating and providing the job and issuing a contract of employment for the duration of the apprenticeship.
The employer is responsible for paying the apprentice’s wages and selecting the training contractor/provider who will support the off-the-job training.
The Training Contractor/Provider – is responsible for providing the off-the-job training to the apprentice that makes up 20% of the total apprenticeship. This time must be included in the apprentice’s contractual working hours.
A useful search facility is available here on the Department for the Economy (DfE) website to find a suitable training contractor in your local area to deliver Level 2 and Level 3 ApprenticeshipsNI training.
From May 2017 the Government changed the way apprenticeships were funded in England, which included the introduction of the apprenticeship levy.
The levy is paid by employers with an annual pay bill of £3million or more and is calculated at 0.5% of an employer’s annual wage bill over the £3million. It is deducted like a tax from monthly PAYE.
The introduction of the levy was part of the Government’s apprenticeship reforms in England, which were designed to put employers in the driving seat.
The levy helps the Government increase investment in apprenticeships. The system puts employers in control of who they buy their apprenticeship training from.
These reforms are for England only, what if my company employs people who are based outside of England in the UK Nations?
The levy is paid by all UK employers who have an annual wage bill of £3million or more, but levy vouchers used to pay for apprenticeship training only applies in England.
For organisations that pay the levy and that have staff based in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, the relevant proportion of an employer’s levy payment will be issued to the respective devolved administration (nation).
For example, if an organisation that pays the levy has 75% of its staff based in England and 25% based in Northern Ireland, then 25% of the value of the organisation’s levy payments will be paid to Northern Irish Government. However these funds are not specifically ringfenced for use on apprenticeship training as is the case in England.
Your pay bill will be based on the total amount of earnings subject to Class 1 secondary (employers) National Insurance Contributions (NICs).
Earnings include anything such as wages, bonuses, commissions, and pension contributions that you pay NICs on.
In summary, it is calculated on what goes through an employer’s PAYE.
If you pay freelancers outside of PAYE (e.g. through invoices) this would not be included as part of your pay bill.
Apprenticeships are recognised formally by the Government. Apprentices must be working to a published and approved Framework or Standard (which includes mandatory off-the-job training delivered by a training provider).
Apprentices by law must have a contract of employment and be paid the appropriate minimum wage rate.
Internships are time limited work opportunities which must be paid (exceptions apply). There is no formal training or accreditation attached to an internship like there is with an apprenticeship. We have separate guidance on what constitutes an appropriate internship opportunity.
Work experience describes short opportunities (usually no longer than two weeks) that allow somebody to observe the work of an organisation and gain some basic experience/understanding of a role and/or workplace.
In this instance an employer will not be required to pay the apprenticeship levy. This does not effect a business’ ability to access and employ apprenticeships with funding for the off-the-job-training in line with the criteria identified by DfE.
No. Charities are subject to the same arrangements for apprenticeships as any other employer.
Up to date information about apprenticeships for employers in Northern Ireland can be found here
However, we have a role in supporting the sector around apprenticeships and can be approached with any apprenticeship query by contacting [email protected]