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I’m new to apprenticeships – where do I start?

How are apprenticeships funded?

This varies depending on where you are in the UK. Find out more: 

You must pay your apprentices at least the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for apprentices. Find out more about the NMW and apprentice rates.

How much should I pay my apprentice?

The apprentice rate is £3.90 an hour (for 2019/20) rising to £4.15 an hour from April 2020. Rates change in April each year.

But don’t be caught out: an apprentice aged 19 or over must get the National Minimum Wage appropriate for their age in the second year of their apprenticeship. For example, £6.15 for 18-20-year-olds (2019/20 figures) rising to £6.45 from April 2020.

It’s important to get this right because employers who underpay will have to make back-payments and can be fined up to £20,000 as well as being publicly ‘named and shamed’ by the government.

Find out more about the NMW and apprentice rates.

What is the apprenticeship levy?

Employers with a pay bill of £3 million or over must pay 0.5% of their pay bill into a pot to help pay for apprenticeship training. This levy applies across the whole of the UK but how the funds can be used varies between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Large employers will have a £15,000 allowance to offset against their levy payment.

Find out more on the GOV.UK website.

What contracts/agreements do I need?

The law says you must sign an apprenticeship agreement (England and Wales) or deed of apprenticeship (Scotland and Northern Ireland) with your apprentice. The agreement must set out the details of the apprenticeship including how long the employment will last for, what training they will receive, and what qualifications they are working towards. 

The agreement will ensure you both know what to expect from each other and will have an agreed document to refer to in the case of any queries or disagreements during the apprenticeship. 

NHBF Members can download free apprenticeship agreements/deeds. 

  • England: During the transition period, you will need to ask the local training provider if they offer the old frameworks or the new Standards (Trailblazer). 

NHBF Members can download free apprenticeship agreements for use in England: 

The Standards (Trailblazer) apprenticeship agreements include a copy of the Standards. If you are using framework agreements you must ensure the training provider has made the frameworks available to learners. 

Are there any incentives to take on an apprentice?

In England only, small employers (less than 50 employees) who take on 16-18-year-olds, or those aged 19-24 who have been in care, or who have a local authority care plan, will not pay anything towards the cost of apprenticeship training and assessment. 

In England only, any employer taking on 16-18-year-olds or those aged 19-24 who have been in care, or who have a local authority care plan will receive £1000 to support the additional costs of training these groups. The training provider will also receive £1000. 

In Northern Ireland only, an Employer Incentive Payment is available to employers whose apprentices successfully complete their level 2 or level 3.

What are Standards (Trailblazer)?

In England only, apprenticeship frameworks are now being phased out and replaced by Standards (Trailblazer). Hair Professional (hairdressing/barbering) and Beauty Professional (beauty therapist, beauty and make-up consultant, nail service technician) Standards (Trailblazer) apprenticeships are available. 

They have been developed by hair and beauty employers to ensure apprentices gain the level of knowledge, skills and behaviours they need to work well in a hair salon, barbershop or beauty salon. 

The level 2 Hair Professional: hairdressing/barbering Standards (Trailblazer) are set at a higher standard than the old apprenticeship frameworks (equating to a level 2½). 

Apprentices must spend 20% of their time completing ‘off-the-job’ training; this is one day a week for full-time apprentices. (English and Maths cannot be included as part of the 20% ‘off-the-job’ training.) 

Find out more.

Standards (Trailblazer): what is off-the-job training?

Apprentices must spend 20% of their time doing ‘off-the-job’ training. 

It can take place at the apprentice’s normal place of work but must not be part of their normal day-to-day duties. 

Off-the-job training must be directly relevant to the apprenticeship and could include the following: 

  • Practical training, shadowing, mentoring, industry visits, learning new skills and attendance at competitions.
  • Learning theory (for example, lectures, role playing, simulation exercises, online learning, manufacturer training).
  • Researching and writing assessments/assignments.

 The 20% of time set aside for off-the-job training must not include English or Maths studies.

How long does the apprenticeship last?

The minimum length of time for a Standards (Trailblazer) apprenticeship is specified in the Standards but cannot be less than one year (372 days). The End Point Assessment can only be taken at the end of this minimum length of time. 

This timing is based on the apprentice working 30 hours a week or more, including off-the-job training.

Can my apprentice re-sit their End Point Assessment?

Yes. But the apprentice will have to re-take the whole assessment – not just parts of it. 

It’s unlikely that funding will cover re-takes so it’s best practice to ensure your apprentice is ready to take the End Point Assessment.

What are T Levels?

T Levels (Technical Levels) are new technical qualifications for those aged 16 and above. They are being developed by the government, business and education.

T Levels are two-year, level 3 technical study programmes leading to a specific qualification. They include a work placement of 45-60 days. It is expected that there will be a hair, beauty and aesthetics T Level. They will not replace apprenticeships. Find out more.