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How to Recruit an Apprentice
Advice for Small Businesses

You are looking to recruit an apprentice. Perhaps it's the first time you have ever taken on an apprentice and you'll have some questions about next steps. We’ve covered everything in this blog that you need to know to get started. If you need any help or support, get in touch with our team. At the West of England Apprenticeship Service we offer a free, independent and impartial support service for small to medium sized businesses looking to take a new apprentice on. Get in touch and we can guide you through each of the steps we have outlined below and answer any questions have along the way.

Whilst you’re thinking through the role for your apprentice, here are some of the key things you will want to factor into your decision making:

  • An apprentice can be anyone aged 16+ who is eligible to live and work in England.  Apprenticeships have no upper age limit and aren’t just for those starting out in their careers. They are also used by people looking to gain relevant skills and knowledge in a new industry, or by businesses who want to provide training and development opportunities to their employees.

  • Apprenticeships include nationally recognised qualifications. You will want to find the right apprenticeship standard* for the role your apprentice will be doing.  You can find all of the approved apprenticeship standards here. We can help you to understand the options available. 

  • An apprentice is an employee in your business and should be treated the same with a contract, holiday pay, probation period etc. The apprentice must be offered a genuine job role which must be fulfilling, providing benefit to the business and the apprentice, as well as fulfilling the requirements of the apprenticeship standard.

  • The apprentice will be employed in your business for at least the duration of their apprenticeship. Apprenticeships last between 12 months and 6 years.

  • As a small business you will pay a 5% contribution to the cost of delivering the apprentice's training + their wages. Read our blog here to understand apprenticeship funding for small businesses. 

  • An apprentice must be paid a minimum of £4.30 for the first 12 months and the National Minimum Wage for their age subsequently. You can of course pay more.

*Every apprenticeship has an apprenticeship standard. The standard outlines the skills, knowledge and behaviours that the apprentice will need to gain through their job role and their apprenticeship training. All standards are developed by groups of employers who work in that sector, known as ‘trailblazers’.

** The End Point Assessment tests that an apprentice is fully capable of doing their job before they receive their apprenticeship certificate. It also helps to demonstrate that what an apprentice has learned can be applied in the real world. The assessment may involve a test, interview, practical assessment etc.

Steps To Recruiting an Apprentice

  1. Decide on who will be doing the apprenticeship. Are you looking to recruit a new member of staff, or put an existing employee onto an apprenticeship?

  2. Find the right apprenticeship standard (training programme) for the role you have identified. You can search for all of the apprenticeship standards on the Institute of Apprenticeships here. Our team can also do the research for you, including helping you to understand the options available and match apprenticeship standards to your skills needs.

  3. Choose your apprenticeship training provider. The training provider takes on responsibility for working with your business to ensure the apprentice receives the necessary support and training for their apprenticeship. They will have a training programme that they will deliver with your apprentice. Many also offer a recruitment service. We run the Western Training Provider Network, a network of 35+ approved apprenticeship training providers. Get in touch and we can help you find the right training provider as part of our free apprenticeship support service.

  4. Write your apprenticeship job description, decide on their salary and advertise your vacancy. Share your job description with your training provider who will help to advertise your vacancy and screen candidates.

  5. All businesses who take on an apprentice are required to register a business account with the government’s online Apprenticeship Service. This will allow you to administer your apprenticeships, manage funding and claim any government incentives.

  6. Select your successful candidate and work with your training provider to set a start date and map out their apprenticeship training.

  7. Create your Apprenticeship Agreement. An apprenticeship agreement must be signed at the start of the apprenticeship. It is a legal requirement and is used to confirm individual employment arrangements between the apprentice and the employer.


If you are a small to medium sized business (under 250 employees) and based in the West of England we can help you with all of the steps outlined above. Get in touch to speak to one of our Apprenticeship Managers:

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