Guide to apprenticeships


Employers are increasingly finding apprentices can offer an attractive way to diversify recruitment and bring in fresh talent to their companies. Apprenticeships, which last between 1 and 4 years, combine real-world work experience with a structured training programme. They include qualifications ranging from popular industry certifications to honours degrees.

Equip a new generation with digital skills: 80% of people say they’re more likely to use a business if it offers apprenticeships to young people. 


Benefits of digital apprenticeships

  • New talent:  Recruit and develop ambitious school leavers with the skills and experience to excel in your workplace
  • Retention and productivity: Apprentices can help support existing staff to develop and progress
  • Tailor-made:  From online training to part time study, a programme can be created around and digital roles and training needs
  • Cost-effective: The average apprentice increases business productivity by £214 per week
  • Fresh ideas: Having an apprentice who is learning about the industry can give a unique insight on projects
  • Learning at all levels: From level 2 to MSc, apprenticeships can train learners of all levels and abilities
  • High-quality support: Accredited training providers can help employers through the entire hiring process


What you need to know


Types of Apprenticeship

There are currently 4 levels of apprenticeships plus brand new MSc apprenticeships, soon to be available in England. Any level you choose is available in a range of subjects from Network Engineer to Digital Marketeer.

Course examples Types of apprenticeship
  • IT technician / helpdesk specialist
  • Network engineer
  • Software / web developer
  • Database developer
  • Cyber security specialist
  • & more
  • Level 2 apprenticeships are typically suitable for those with some school qualifications.
  • Level 3 apprenticeships are suitable for those with 5 GCSEs grades A* – C including maths and English.
  • Level 4 apprenticeships are suitable for those with 5 GCSEs grades A* – C plus 2 A’ Levels grades A* – C including maths or a science subject.
  • BSc apprenticeship  are suitable for those with 3 A-levels grades A* – C including maths or a science subject.
  • MSc apprenticeships (Coming soon – end of 2017)



An apprentice can be a new or existing employee of any age, but they must meet the following criteria:

  • Be employed for a minimum of 30 hours a week
  • Cannot be receiving funding for any other training
  • Be a permanent UK citizen or hold a UK national insurance number
  • Be an EU National; or EEA migrant worker who has been in the EU for past 3 years; or ‘settled status,’ i.e., a resident in the UK for at least 3 years or a spouse of a UK citizen or person with settled status who has been both married and resident in the UK for 1 year



All details regarding apprenticeship funding will change from 1 May 2017. Here we provide a list of current and future funding bands for the new digital apprenticeship standards. Download the list of funding bands by standard (PDF).


Apprenticeship standards

New Apprenticeships standards have been developed in England by employer groups known as ‘trailblazers’ and approved by government. Designed by employers for employers, these new standards give the confidence that apprentices will develop the skills they need to make a real contribution to their company. For more detailed information, visit the apprenticeship standards section. Previous frameworks are still in place for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 


Find and train

There are 3 routes to sourcing, training and assessing an apprentice, depending on the resources and time you are able to commit. 

  • A direct route: Larger organisations will have their own in-house programmes but for smaller companies, this can be highly time consuming. 
  • Through a training provider: your training provider will be able to help you find and recruit apprentices – as well as handling your apprentices’ training, qualification and assessment. Employers can now use the find apprenticeship training service to search for suitable apprenticeships and identify approved training providers who can deliver that training.
  • Through an apprenticeship training agency: Some prefer to use an ATA which involves you paying a fee to the agency for an apprentice to work for you; the agency is then the apprentice’s employer so they supervise the apprentice’s learning, including their training and assessment. See the National Register of ATAs.


After training

Once an apprentice has completed their training you are under no obligation to offer them employment, however, you may find the skills they have learned on their apprenticeship valuable to your company.  Following the successful completion of an apprenticeship, many apprentices go on to complete higher level apprenticeships as a natural route for progression. 


Still got questions?

For more general apprenticeship information find out more for employers based in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland or email