What is an apprenticeship?

Monday, March 19, 2018 - 15:36

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a job with training to industry standards. It should be about entry to a recognised occupation, involve a substantial programme of on and off-the-job training and the apprentice’s occupational competence should be tested by an independent, end point assessment. Apprenticeships are employer-led: employers set the standards, create the demand for apprentices to meet their skills needs, fund the apprenticeship and are responsible for employing and training the apprentice. But the needs of the apprentice are equally important: to achieve competence in a skilled occupation, which is transferable and secures long term earnings potential, greater security and the capability to progress in the workplace.

Not all training is an apprenticeship. Work experience alone, shorter duration training for a job, attending a course, or assessing and certificating an employee who is already working in the occupation, are all positive forms of learning and accreditation at work but they are not apprenticeships.

High quality apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are built upon:

An Agreed Partnership:

  • An employer with the intention and capability of employing the apprentice to completion of their training and end-point assessment and securing their longer term future
  • An apprentice who is motivated to learn and work diligently to complete their apprenticeship
  • Training and support delivered either wholly in house or on behalf of the employer by a registered training provider, college or university
  • An initial assessment of the apprentice’s prior learning and the job role, against the standard
  • An Apprenticeship Agreement and Commitment Statement between the employer, the apprentice and the provider, which sets out the training programme and covers the points in this statement

 The Occupation and Standard

  • Entry to a recognised occupation which can be transferred to other relevant employers and is sufficiently skilled to require employment and training of at least a year’s duration with 20% of the time in off the job training
  • A written standard approved by the Institute (1), which fully defines the occupation in terms of the responsibilities and tasks involved and the skills, knowledge and behaviours required to achieve competence

The Job

  • Employment in a job with legal and contractually acceptable terms and conditions
  • The job role, together with the off the job training, provides opportunities to cover the full occupational profile and learning all of the skills, knowledge and behaviours required

 The Training Programme

  • A challenging and stretching training and learning programme developed and delivered with the active involvement of the employer(s), which uses a range of effective on and off the job training methods as well as work itself
  • motivating and supportive workplace with coaching and mentoring support for the apprentice and continuous assessment of progress
  • An extended period of on and off the job training (at least twelve months duration with a minimum of 20% of the time in off the job training) which develops not only the knowledge and skills required but also the additional transferable skills (2) which allow an apprentice to deal with new employers, situations, problems and equipment

End-point Assessment and Certification

  • Achievement prior to entry to end-point assessment, of the appropriate level of English and maths, any digital skills required and other specified components of the Apprenticeship, signed off by the employer
  • National standards built into a demanding independent (3) assessment at the end of the apprenticeship, carried out by a registered apprenticeship assessment organisation, which meets the Institute’s requirements for quality, set out in its guidance on external quality assurance.(4)
  • Certification by the Institute on completion of the whole apprenticeship. Recruiting employers and apprentices use this trusted record of employability as a licence for the occupation and to access related professional status

Words from the Institute for Apprenticeships.


For more information on Apprenticeships, visit our Apprenticeships Overview page here or contact us on info@nsafd.co.uk.