Employers Q&A

We understand that navigating your way through the apprenticeship recruitment process can feel like a daunting task.

That’s why we want to make sure finding and employing your next apprentice is as easy and simple as possible.

To help you get started we have put together some frequently asked questions- so whether it’s information about apprenticeship standards or funding, we have got you covered.

If at any point you have further questions, our dedicated team of advisers are here to offer you guidance.

Employers Q&A

Our service to employers

Employers that choose us as their apprenticeship provider benefit from:

  • A dedicated account manager, with a minimum of 4 face to face visits per year.
  • A committed contracts team, that will help you navigate funding and Government regulations. This service includes advice, guidance, levy calculations and the full account management of digital funds.
  • A full, end to end recruitment service, which includes advertising vacancies and attracting applicants; recruiting and vetting applicants including application, screening, assessment and interview; a vacancy matching service to partner applicants with employers ensuring that the needs of both are met.
  • FREE apprentice mentoring programme, designed to help you maximise the potential that apprenticeships offer to both your company and apprentices. 

  • Your apprentice is more likely to succeed with us
    We consistently have the highest achievement rates, for engineering and manufacturing apprentices, in the Sheffield City Region. 
  • Whatever the level of study you need, we have you covered
    As part of the University of Sheffield, we offer progression routes from Advanced Apprenticeships level 3, right through to Degree Apprenticeship level 6 and 7.
  • Industrially experienced teachers 
    Our industrially experienced teachers and trainers ensure that apprentices develop the skills and knowledge for them to thrive in a modern manufacturing environment. 
  • We support you and your apprentice
    Every apprentice is paired with a dedicated teaching and learning mentor providing pastoral and welfare support, ensuring that apprentices are supported through any challenges they may face. 
  • Our apprenticeships are shaped and designed by industry
    At the heart of our governance, our industry board ensures that our curriculum meets the needs of employers. The board hold the training centre's leaders and managers to account to continuously improve our provision.
  • We are engaged in active research
    Our degree teachers engage in active research at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), ensuring our degree apprenticeship curriculum is research led, progressive and exposes apprentices to the latest technologies and manufacturing methods in their field of study. 

Apprenticeship Standards

An apprenticeship is a genuine job with an accompanying assessment and skills development programme. 

It is a way for individuals to earn while they learn, gaining valuable skills and knowledge in a specific job role. 

Apprenticeships benefit employers by boosting the skills of the workforce and help to improve productivity.

Apprenticeship standards have been developed by industry to ensure that current and emerging needs of industry can be met. They focus on the development of knowledge, skills and behaviours. 

Knowledge represents what the apprentice should actually know in order to succeed in their apprenticeship and chosen career. This includes theoretical, academic learning that may or may not be accredited via a formal qualification; it also represents the knowledge that underpins their technical and workplace skills.

Skills are the technical and vocational activities that apprentices need to be able to actually do in their job. For example a Machinist may need to be able to set up a CNC milling machine. These are underpinned by vocational knowledge.

Behaviours are the traits, attributes and professional practices an apprentice needs to develop in order to thrive and progress at work. These can be generic, such as team working and communication skills but may be occupationally specific, such as seeking opportunities to improve quality, speed and efficiency for Engineering Technicians.

  • Advanced Apprenticeship
    An Advanced Apprenticeship is a Level 3 qualification, they are equivalent to two A level passes.
  • Higher Apprenticeship
    Our higher apprenticeships are Level 4 and includes a Higher National Certificate (HNC).
  • Degree Apprenticeship
    Our Degree Apprenticeships are Level 6 and include a Bachelor Degree in Engineering (BEng).

Off-the-job training is a statutory requirement for an English apprenticeship. It is training which is received by the apprentice, during the apprentice’s normal working hours. In this time, apprentices should be working to achieving the knowledge, skills and behaviours of the approved apprenticeship. By normal working hours we mean paid hours excluding overtime.

Off-the-job training can include the following:

  • The teaching of theory, for example, lectures, role playing, simulation exercises, online learning or manufacturer training.
  • Practical training, which includes shadowing, mentoring, industry visits and participation in competitions
  • Learning support and time spent writing assessments /assignments.

Key facts about Off-the-job training:

  • Off-the-job training must make up at least 20% of the apprentice’s normal working hours (paid hours excluding overtime) over the planned duration of the apprenticeship.
  • Off-the-job training can be delivered in the apprentice’s normal workplace or at an external location.
  • Progress reviews and on-programme assessment do not count towards 20% off-the-job training.


The Gateway is a milestone within an apprenticeship standard where an apprentice must satisfy their employer and provider that they are ready to progress, either within the standard (for example from level 2 to level 3) or to End Point Assessment (EPA).

Gateways determining progression within a standard are defined clearly within each standard’s assessment plan. However, there are characteristics common to EPA Gateways across all standards: the apprentice must be able to demonstrate:

  • Sufficient progress in the development of knowledge, skills and behaviours
  • Proof of certification of the required level of English and maths
  • Proof of certification of any mandatory qualifications
  • Evidence of application for any required professional recognition

End Point Assessment (EPA)

EPA is a synoptic assessment of knowledge, skills and behaviours.  The specifics of this vary between standards and are determined in each apprenticeship standard’s assessment plan. EPA usually consists of:

  • Portfolio assessment
  • Interview/professional discussion
  • Observation of practice

Apprenticeships at the AMRC Training Centre typically run between three and four years depending on the specific programme

Apprentices must spend at least 20% of their time in off-the-job training, however, they may need more than this if, for example, they need training in English and maths.

At the AMRC Training Centre apprentices spend a minimum of between 16 to 38 weeks at the start of their programme full time in centre, depending on the apprenticeship pathway. We work hand-in-hand with employers to ensure they gain crucial skills in this time, meaning they can be productive in company from day one.

Many degree apprentices also attend the centre full time for the first 16 to 38 weeks at the start of the programme, developing skills in the same way. However, if a degree apprentice already has these skills, for example of they have progressed from an advanced or higher apprenticeship, this may not be necessary.

Regardless of level, all apprentices will attend classroom learning (this may be face to face, online or a mixture of both) on a day release basis to complete their knowledge qualifications. This usually takes two years.

There is no upper age limit to apprenticeships. 

Employers have the option to either recruit an apprentice through our recruitment and matching service.


Train current employees, developing their skills and knowledge through an apprenticeship programme. However, it is important that the apprenticeship would develop significant new knowledge, skills and behaviours or the candidate may not be eligible

Employer responsibilities

  • Apprentices must be employed by you and have a contract of employment with the same terms and conditions as other members of your workforce.
  • You must be able to provide sufficient opportunities for the apprentice to develop their knowledge, skills and behaviours at work.
  • The provision of an appropriate mentor or buddy within the workplace. The AMRC Training Centre will provide the designated member of staff with free mentoring training.
  • You will need to make provision for your apprentice to come to work for one day a month (on a predetermined date) during the initial full time block of skills training.

Apprentices will be given a full programme induction by the AMRC Training Centre. However, they will also require a full induction to the role and workplace. 

Apprentices are entitled to paid holidays and sick pay just like any other employee. They are also entitled to any other benefits or training you offer your employees.

You are responsible for paying your apprentice’s wage and giving them their contract of employment. You must pay apprentices at least the national minimum wage rate

All employers are required to pay for apprentices personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes uniform, safety glasses and safety boots. The cost is currently £100 per apprentice.

Levy and funding

If you are a business with a wage bill above £3 million you are able to use your apprenticeship levy contributions to pay for the cost of the apprenticeship. 

Employers who do not have sufficient levy payments to cover the full cost of tuition fees, will also be eligible for the 95% government funding.

If you are a business with a wage bill below £3 million the Government will pay 95% of the cost of the apprenticeship for apprentices of any age. 

Official government information, guidance and advice on the Apprenticeship Levy can be found here>

Small businesses (fewer than 50 employees) hiring an apprentice under 19-years-of-age when the apprenticeship commences will pay no costs at all.

All businesses employing an apprentice under 19-years-of-age, a care leaver up to 24-years-of-age or an adult with additional needs will qualify for an extra support payment of £1,000.

Next steps

Our end to end recruitment service will make it easier for you to employ the right apprentice. 

Whether you want to upskill an existing member of staff or recruit a new member of staff we will undertake all of the necessary assessments to make sure the apprenticeship is right for them.

When recruiting new apprentices we will undertake all the necessary interviews, assessments and vetting to ensure the most appropriate candidates are submitted to your vacancy. You can find out more about the apprentice application process here>

We have a dedicated team with a wealth of experience to take you through employing an apprentice - from recruitment to advice on funding, we can help.

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