The world of work is evolving.

From the changing expectations of the millennial workforce, to the fall in university-goers (that’s right—only 65% of young people want to live the student life these days), the traditional job-for-life mentality is becoming a thing of the past.

In 2019, more people are embracing career changes and more emphasis is being put on training at work.

And that’s where apprenticeships come in. Clearly, apprenticeships aren’t a new concept (even Jesus did a stint as an apprentice carpenter 😇) but with the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in 2017, opportunities for organisations to benefit from new blood are on the rise.

But just because apprenticeships are becoming more common, doesn’t mean everyone fully understands what they can offer. That’s why we’ve created this unmissable FAQ.

Read on to find out what apprenticeships are, who can benefit from them and the absolute must-knows for anyone considering an apprenticeship scheme.

Guide to Apprenticeships

  1. What is an apprenticeship?
  2. Benefits of apprenticeships: Why are apprenticeships important?
  3. Apprenticeship FAQs:
  • Could my company use an apprentice?
  • How long do apprenticeships last?
  • Which roles should I assign apprentices to?
  • Top tips for apprenticeship awesomeness

4. Make the most of this guide to apprenticeships

What is an apprenticeship?

Put simply, an apprenticeship is an introductory role which helps people learn as they work.

Anyone can get involved in an apprenticeship—the two most common types of apprentices are:

  • Young people looking for a way into the workforce
  • Experienced people looking to keep their careers on an upward climb

Like any entry level employee, apprentices are paid. They are required to spend at least 20% of their time doing on-the-job training as well as undertaking an educational curriculum—that means knuckling down on regular assignments alongside the working role.

Benefits of apprenticeships: Why are apprenticeships important?

Apprenticeships are a great way to introduce diversity from the ground up.

From increasing productivity to strengthening company culture, diversity has been proven to do wonders for the workplace.

Meera Patel, Talent and Diversity Specialist at Bulb certainly agrees.
“The more we can do to create a diverse and inclusive workforce, the more people are able to flourish and have an impact… I feel strongly that the onus is not on the person to change things. As a business, it’s on [us] to fix these problems. [With apprenticeships] we have an opportunity to change the hiring and working experience.”

And diversity isn’t all apprenticeships have to offer.

They are also a great way to bring in fresh ideas—helping companies avoid stagnation and leap ahead of the competition.

“We value apprentices because young people bring new skills and innovation to the business. They are the lifeblood of the organisation as they help shape the future workforce of the company” says Damian Brown, Head of Accredited Learning at BT.

Apprenticeship FAQs

Could my company use an apprentice?

For most people, the word ‘apprentice’ conjures an image of a young person slaving over a physical trade—think carpentry, electrics or plumbing.

But the modern world of apprenticeships has SO much more to offer.

The types of companies with apprenticeship programs are endless—from business to media and just about everything in between.

Here are just a few of the unexpected industries where you can find apprenticeships:

  • Law industry (HR, admin, receptionists)
  • Digital marketing (event planners, research assistants, admin support)
  • Financial services (data entry specialists, reporting assistants)
  • Health care (nurses, porters, receptionists)Hospitality (housekeepers, chefs, customer service)


“In the minds of a lot of people, apprentices are still people who do manual types of work. You have apprentices on a construction site, you don't have them in an office. [Now we know] apprentices belong in our business. They [can] grow and evolve with us,” says Meera.

How long are apprenticeships?

You want to get the most out of your apprenticeship scheme, right?

Well, so do your apprentices.

That’s why it’s a requirement that roles last for a minimum of a year, whereas the maximum varies depending on the individual apprenticeship standard for that role.

Employers are encouraged to offer jobs at the end of apprenticeships but to manage expectations early on if that’s not possible. Whether you offer them a job is up to you, but it’s worth noting that around 70% of apprentices do stay with the same employer, and that 89% of employers reported their companies were improved through apprenticeships.

Which roles should I assign apprentices to?

When designing an apprentice role, it’s important to remember the level of experience a person will need to achieve it.

In other words, make sure you’re not asking your apprentices to do too much. The role should be challenging, but achievable.

Laura Tomsett, Recruitment Advisor at Christie’s, makes sure her apprentices do entry-level tasks that still make a real impact on the company: “Apprentices save time by taking on a range of important tasks. Our HR apprentice does everything an entry-level member of staff does. She easily saves me at least a day a week—from organising meetings, making bookings, and especially in busy periods where we might have hired a temporary resource,” she says.

Here are some ideas to help you figure out where an apprentice could help your business thrive:

  • Look at which entry level positions could translate well to an apprenticeship
  • Check out where your spillover work or admin bottlenecks are
  • Consult with your apprenticeship provider to help carve out the right roles based on your company’s unique needs

Top tips for apprenticeship awesomeness

Tip #1. Do your homework

You wouldn’t try rewiring a house before learning how electrics work. (At least we hope not…⚡).

Apprenticeships are the same—you need to understand them thoroughly before you can succeed.

That’s why apprenticeship management orgs like WhiteHat exist—to help you create a super successful scheme.

“[Working with an apprenticeship management org] helped me understand what it meant to have apprentices, what their time would look like, how they might be different from other people in the team, even the actual process of recruiting them," says Meera Patel.

Tip #2. Keep an open mind

Any company worth its weight knows workforce expectations are changing.

That’s why it’s vital to keep an open mind when it comes to where you look for applicants.

“We tend to find entry-level talent in the same kind of places. But it’s a changing market and university is an expensive luxury now—a lot of people are deciding it’s not for them. There are people out there that haven’t had as much opportunity put in front of them, but they're just as bright, just as driven, just as intellectual. It’s important to us to find those people,” says Laura Tomsett.

The other thing to remember is not to give up on an apprentice too soon.

If they’re struggling in one area, try them on a different task to find out where their strengths lie—they might be much better working as an events assistant than they were inputting data.

Tip #3. Make sure you have an A+ performance management strategy

Like most relationships, apprentices require your attention, care and support.

You can provide this through buddy schemes, 1:1’s and a stellar performance management strategy.

Put simply, the more energy you put into your apprentices, the more impact they will have on your company. It’s win:win! 🎉

Make the most of this guide to apprenticeships

It can feel daunting to embark on a new apprenticeship scheme.

But when you realise the alternative is losing out to the competition, there’s only one real choice.

Lucky for you, it’s easier than you think. As long as you follow this guide, do your research, get your team onboard, and choose a management org that makes your heart flutter—your road to a super successful apprenticeship scheme will be a breeze.

Want to find out more about how you can run an A+ apprenticeship scheme?