What is an Apprenticeship
‘Apprenticeship’ may mean a different thing for one person to another, as there are many stereotypes that the word carries.
Below aims to give a simple guide to ‘What is an Apprenticeship’
Put simply, an Apprenticeship is the position of an apprentice.
An Apprentice is defined in the dictionary as follows:
‘A person who is learning a trade from a skilled employer, having agreed to work for a fixed period at low wages’.
However this definition can be misleading, as it seems to imply that an Apprentice is only able to complete an Apprenticeship within a practical setting.
Traditional Versus Modern
Traditional Apprenticeships did involve learning a craft with a skilled practitioner.
However modern Apprenticeships allow someone to develop an academic qualification whilst being trained in a profession.
As an Apprentice, you can expect to:
- Work alongside experienced staff who will help train you in the role
- Gain job specific skills
- Earn a wage and get holiday pay
- Get time to study – ‘off-the-job training’
There are two different apprenticeship routes
Perhaps the most common and more well-known route is someone leaving school and going straight into an Apprenticeship.
Typically 16-18 years old, these candidates will gain entry into the workplace, usually for the first time.
Apprenticeships have become a popular alternative to college and/or university, mainly because it avoids the individual having to pay high fees, but also because a lot of school leavers don’t see themselves in a classroom environment in order for them to progress.
Perhaps they prefer the idea of working and gaining more practical experience.
This is where an Apprenticeship really appeals because whilst they will still be classed as in education, they are in the workplace gaining ‘real life’ experience in an office environment, working towards a qualification and therefore gaining a wage each week.
Up-skilling Within The Workplace
The second Apprenticeship route is where a current employee within your company completes an Apprenticeship.
The idea of this can seem unusual to many as it’s drilled into us that an Apprentice is a young person.
However, with Apprenticeship qualifications in:
- Financial Services
- Team Leading
- Project Management
Many companies are choosing to put their employees onto an Apprenticeship in order to up-skill and develop staff.
Essentially, the term ‘Apprenticeship’ should just be considered as a word.
What the member of staff will really be doing is a highly intensive training programme in order to gain a nationally recognised qualification.
In conclusion, depending on where you are in your professional career, an Apprenticeship can mean one of two things.
This can be a stepping stone into a career, enabling you to carry on your education whilst in a working environment.
On the other hand it could be the opportunity for you to develop in your current role and enables you to gain a qualification without taking time off or going on a sabbatical.
Apprenticeships are for everyone!
When speaking to employers about enrolling their staff members onto Apprenticeships, it is automatically assumed that they’re for a young person starting out in their career who has just left school or college.
When in fact, Apprenticeships are suitable for anyone at any age – no matter how far they are in their career.
Throughout the years I have worked in training & development, we have tried to tackle the stigma individuals have about taking on Apprentices.
Although the qualifications are called Apprenticeship Standards it doesn’t mean that only young people can enrol onto the qualifications.
Apprenticeships are for everyone
Apprenticeships are in fact for everyone, no matter where you are in your career.
Perhaps you are looking to enhance your skills within the job role you are currently in or maybe you are preparing for a new role within the organisation.
An Apprenticeship is one of the best ways to learn whilst you’re working as the things you are being taught will be put into practice and tailored to your specific job role.
Stigma of being too old
You may be aware of a film starring Robert De Niro called ‘The Intern’. In this film, De Niro plays a 70 year old who manages to get an internship within an online fashion website. Or perhaps you’ve seen Vince Vaughn & Owen Wilson star in a film called ‘The Internship’ where they aim to get an internship with Google.
Both of these films showcase the stigma that if you’re of a certain age, you are too old to enrol onto an Apprenticeship.
Riverside Training have a screening process for all individuals who wish to enrol onto an Apprenticeship Standard or become an Apprentice in the work place.
During this process we come across a lot of candidates who start of the process with the question “Am I too old to start an apprenticeship?” and the answer is always no! You’re never too old to increase your skills and knowledge within your role and it’s normal for people to want to do better with their careers and get more qualifications on their CV.
Riverside Training have joined with an online platform called BUD.
BUD is an e-learning platform that allows individuals who enrol onto an Apprenticeship the ability to work on their qualification in their own time, as they have been designed so that people can cope with the work load from the course whilst still working.
The platform boasts large benefits for employers and learners as it allows Work Based Tutors and learners to communicate with each other in real time.
Learners can also see their progress throughout the qualification making it easier for them to see where they are and what they have got left to complete.
In my opinion, you are never too old to learn.
As a young teenager I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career, and throughout my career I have even had second thoughts about what I actually want to do.
Although I have a great passion for what I do, there are times where I think ‘what if I became a Project Manager for Riverside?’.
I am strong believer in the phrase ‘do whatever makes you happy’ and if that means completing an Apprenticeship to enhance your skills within your current role, then go for it.
What does taking on an Apprentice involve?
“Offering Apprenticeships has been a great benefit to our business. We’ve seen Apprentices grow through their courses. Our managers are actively involved in setting targets and supporting the direction of staff development.” (T. Ellender, Balfour Beatty).
Taking on an Apprentice within your business has many benefits and rewards. But was does taking on an Apprentice involve, for you as the employer? We’ve broken it down so you can clearly see what the process involves and how it impacts the business.
Work Based Tutors
All Apprentices are assigned a Work Based Tutor (WBT). The WBT is there to support, help and guide the Apprentice throughout the programme. They will meet with them regularly at the work place, or remotely if necessary.
Initially, the WBT will arrange a sign up meeting between the Apprentice, their line manager and themselves. This sign up meeting takes the Apprentice through the outline of the Apprenticeship programme that they are on, and through our e-learning platform. This platform is called BUD.
Once commitment and funding statements have been agreed and signed, the Apprentice is officially enrolled onto the Apprenticeship qualification.
The WBT will then arrange to meet with the Apprentice periodically through regular visits across the length of the programme. They will set work and go through previous work that has been set. During these visits, the Apprentice should have a clear understanding of how they are progressing and what work they need to do for the next visit.
The Apprentice will also have quarterly progress reviews with both their Line Manager and the WBT. These reviews will confirm their progress to date and agree actions and timelines to support a successful completion.
Riverside Training offers an e-learning platform to all our Apprentices. Using BUD has not only meant that we’ve been able to move from a paper-based Apprenticeship, it has allowed Apprentices to have access to a modern and efficient platform to complete their qualification.
The entirety of the Apprenticeship is completed on BUD, meaning that it can be accessed anywhere – work, home or even out and about by using the BUD app. The Apprentice has their work set for them on this platform, and can also contact their WBT through the system.
20% Off-The-Job Training
One of the requirements of an Apprenticeship is completing the 20% off-the-job hours (OTJ). OTJ is learning that is undertaken outside of the normal working environment, and leads towards the achievement of an Apprenticeship.
OTJ is based on the working hours of the Apprentice. For example, if the Apprentice works 37.5 hours per week then they would complete 7.5 hours off OTJ learning per week. However, the hours can be accumulated over the duration of the qualification. Whilst this can include training that is delivered at the place of work, it cannot be delivered as part of their normal working duties.
For examples of what can and cannot be used for OTJ learning, please click here. These hours need to be logged and evidenced in order for the qualification to be completed.
Gateway and End Point Assessment
Approximately 3 months before the due end date of the Apprenticeship, the Apprentice will go through ‘Gateway’. This is the planning and confirmation of their readiness to complete their End Point Assessment (EPA) which results in them completing their Apprenticeship. It can be broken down into the following stages:
- Both the Line Manager and WBT need to confirm and agree that the Apprentice is ready to complete the EPA
- A mock EPA will be conducted
- Completion of any pre entry requirements for EPA ( testing modules, Functional Skills)
- Once it has been decided that the Apprentice is ready, they will be booked in to complete the EPA
The table below details what forms the EPA for each qualification:
Riverside Training has ensured that the process of hiring an Apprentice, or putting an existing member of staff onto an Apprenticeship is a straightforward journey.
With our team of knowledgeable and experienced WBTs and our e-learning platform, having an Apprentice within your workplace can only positively impact the business.
To find out more on hiring an Apprentice, or putting a member of staff onto one of our qualifications, please contact us today for an informal chat.
What are the benefits of hiring an Apprentice in your business?
An Apprenticeship is a fantastic way for someone to learn whilst they are working and although Apprenticeships are often seen as the middle ground between education and employment, as long as you are aged over 16 you can complete an Apprenticeship at any age.
Learners will gain an education whilst being in the workplace, developing skills and knowledge to either succeed in their career or perhaps progress onto the next Apprenticeship level.
Whilst this is brilliant for the Apprentice, how does this benefit you, the employer? What are you getting out of hiring an Apprentice?
The minimum wage for an Apprentice is currently £3.70 per hour, meaning that they are a lesser expense than other members of the workforce.
The reason for this lower income is due to the fact that companies are expected to train their Apprentices and give them an education that they would otherwise not receive. You will be training your Apprentice to help them with the completion of their course and aid them in transferring these skills to the workplace.
Bridge the skills gap
Hiring a young Apprentice, especially those who have recently finished school, can mean more time and training is needed as typically the Apprenticeship can be their first taste of a ‘proper’ job. However, you can certainly expect them to be adept at certain skills that perhaps your more experienced workforce aren’t as educated in.
An example of this is the fact that the younger generation have grown up surrounded not only by computers but also social media. As a society, we are moving away from paper-based work and so those who have the ability to use these electronic resources are likely to be the ones that succeed.
The younger generation are typically more enthusiastic about their work as well, so they are likely to pick up new skills quickly.
Hiring an Apprentice could be the answer to filling in skill gaps found in your business not just through what you can teach them, but through what they can teach you.
Flexibility for existing employees
Apprentices can go into their new roles with little knowledge of the industry they’re working in. Because of this, it can be a great opportunity to set them tasks that help free up other members of staff to focus on the more demanding areas of their jobs.
Tasks such as filing and dealing with paperwork are just a few of the typical duties that an Apprentice will undertake. Because of this, when they progress in their job role, they will have a greater all round understanding of how the industry works and why certain tasks are performed. Essentially, they will be starting at the bottom in order to work their way up.
As mentioned, due to Apprentices being tasked with jobs such as these, it gives other members of your workforce the opportunity to focus on tasks that an Apprentice is perhaps not qualified to carry out. This in turn creates a greater workflow for the business.
High unemployment rates are a problem in modern society. With many people fresh out of education (school, college or university) unable to secure a job due to having no previous experience, many employers are not able to offer them the opportunity to gain this experience. To a graduate this can seem like a never ending circle.
Enter Apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are offering learners the opportunity to work and earn money whilst at the same time gaining an education. Due to the comparatively low cost of hiring an Apprentice compared to an experienced member of the workforce, there is less of a risk involved, with potentially an even bigger reward.
Because you are investing in an Apprentice, they will likely be more inclined to stay committed to your company. If you take the time to train them and give them skills that will aid them in their future working life, they are likely to return the favour and dedicate themselves to you for the foreseeable future.
Apprentices are a huge asset to any company. They are enthusiastic to complete any job asked of them, and typically have skills that you would not otherwise have in your existing workforce. Not only that, but they are typically more economical to hire, and can free up work for other employees. For more information please contact a member of our team for an informal chat.
Embracing the Change
Here at Riverside Training we are embracing the change and leading the way for End-point assessment. Our new apprentices are now fully fledged onto our Apprenticeship Standards on a wide range of qualifications with fantastic results, we are very proud to announce that two out of the three achievers gained a Distinction Grade.
We deliver a broad range of Standards to meet our customers’ needs and expectations and a few of the excellent courses we deliver are Customer Service Practitioner, Team Leader Supervisor, Business Administration, Associate Project Manager and Operational Departmental Manager.
Our highly qualified Team of Assessors are fully operational with the new standards. The new on-programme assessment will be focused on the learning and development of the learner to meet all KSB (knowledge, skills and behaviours) to pass them through to Gateway and complete their final preparation for end-point assessment.
“What is Gateway?”
Gateway is where the Apprentice is signed-off by their Employer and/or Trainer having met all KSB’s and is ready for the final stage – EPA. Every new apprenticeship standard has a specific set of requirements which will be met before they can attempt end-point assessment.
Here are two examples of the new Standards we deliver; the requirements for Gateway and the EPA weighting:
- Customer Service Practitioner (link to Pearson Level 2 End-point Assessment for Customer Service Practitioner)
Summative portfolio in which the Apprentices will demonstrate how they have applied and used the KSB’ to the required standards in their everyday working practice;
Assess the Apprentice’s ability to use a range of interpersonal and communication skills and behaviours to manage their customer’s needs and expectations;
Planned structured discussion between the Apprentice and the independent end-point assessor to assess the apprentice’s knowledge and understanding of specific areas of the standard and their ability to apply this in their workplace.
Pass – to gain a pass the Apprentice must achieve all the pass grade criteria across all three end-point assessment components.
Distinction – in addition to the pass grade requirements the Apprentice must achieve;
- 7 out of 10 (70%) of the Distinction grade criteria within the Apprenticeship Showcase;
- 4 out of 5 (80%) of the Distinction criteria with the Practical Observation assessment;
- 3 out of 4 (75%) of the Distinction criteria within the Professional Discussion Assessment.
- Team Leader Supervisor (link Pearson Apprenticeship End-point Assessment for Team Leader Supervisor)
Multiple choice test – 45 minutes – component overall grade 30%;
Portfolio of evidence – evidence is generated over the course of the Apprenticeship – component overall grade 20%;
Competency based interview – duration up to 1.5 hours – component overall grade 20%;
Professional discussion – duration up to 45 minutes – component overall grade 20%.
The grade the Apprentice will achieve for the end-point assessment is based on the combined achievement of the specified assessment criteria for all of the four components.
End-point assessment grade Grade requirements
Pass To achieve a Pass, the Apprentice must achieve a minimum of 50% of the available marks in each of the four assessment components.
Range of 50 – 59 marks in total
Merit To achieve a Pass, the Apprentice must achieve a minimum of 50% of the available marks in each of the four assessment components.
Range of 60 – 69 marks in total
Distinction To achieve a Pass, the Apprentice must achieve a minimum of 50% of the available marks in each of the four assessment components.
Minimum of 70 marks in total
15 marks in the multiple choice test
10 marks in the portfolio of evidence
15 marks in the competency-based interview
10 marks in the professional discussion
This is an exciting time for us all at Riverside we are enjoying working closely with our Apprentice’s and employers to deliver quality Standards to meet the needs of their business and development of their workforce.