What are modern apprenticeships?

Modern apprenticeships give anyone over the age of 16 the opportunity to upskill through work-based training while in a paid job. Whether you’re a graduate, mid-level manager or business owner, there are 600+ apprenticeship standards you can access, from cyber security at GCHQ to pottery at Cornishware to Masters-level leadership.

For employers, modern apprenticeships help develop a workforce with relevant skills by training new staff or upskilling existing employees.

How are modern apprenticeships different?

In 2016, the Independent Panel on Technical Education led by Lord Sainsbury and a number of industry leaders undertook a complete review of apprenticeships. It was a brilliant review and found that, amongst other things, apprenticeships were simply not fit for purpose.

Apprenticeships weren’t providing the value that the public purse was paying for, and they weren’t giving employers a workforce with the skills they needed. Industry panels were brought in to rewrite the specifications for each apprenticeship standard. For digital marketing, the employers who helped create the new specification included Accenture, Atos, BT, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, Visa, and Virgin Media.

Previously, very detailed specifications almost told you exactly what you had to teach and how you were able to teach it. This left little room for providers to tailor the programme for each business.

From 2017, this was replaced by a simplified process that fits on two sides of A4 – the core Knowledge, Skills, and Behaviours required to succeed in that profession, whether digital marketing, hairdressing or accounting.

This gives huge flexibility to the training provider to tailor the course to the individual business, and that individual person who is on the apprenticeship – starting with a Skills Gap Analysis and looking at the desired business outcomes.

The standards are regularly reviewed, and employer feedback plays a large role in any revisions.

Who is eligible for an apprenticeship?

  • PAYE employee
  • Aged 16 and above

You can be an apprentice of any age and have completed higher education such as a degree, provided you haven’t done a qualification above what you’re going to study in the apprenticeship. So for a Level 3 Digital marketing programme, you can’t have a marketing degree, but you can have an English degree or a Level 2 Digital Marketing qualification.

“The skills I’ve learnt throughout the apprenticeship are just as important as the skills I picked up during my degree”

Theo, 25, Marketing Assistant at Barbal

How much does an apprenticeship cost?

Apprenticeships are 95% government funded, so as an employer, the most you will pay is 5%. Each apprenticeship standard is allocated to one of 30 funding bands, which range from £1,500 to £27,000. 

For a Level 3 Digital Marketing Apprenticeship, the cost is set by the government at £11,000, so the government pays £10,450 and the employer would pay a maximum of £550 for the full 15-month programme. 

Most of this funding goes to the training provider when the apprentice graduates. One third of this funding goes to the assessor. 

What funding is available for apprenticeships?

The government funds 95% of the training costs for all 600+ apprenticeship standards through the Apprenticeship Levy.

The Apprenticeship Levy is:
– paid by large employers with a payroll of more than £3 million,
– charged at 0.5% of an employer’s total payroll, and
– collected monthly through PAYE

If you are a business with a payroll of less than £3 million, you are still eligible to enrol an employee in an apprenticeship and have at least 95% of the training costs funded.

If large employers don’t use their contribution to the Apprenticeship Levy themselves, they can gift it to a small business to cover the employer’s 5% contribution. Several regional Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) including New Anglia LEP and West Midlands, have set up Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Schemes that can arrange this.

Are modern apprenticeships recognised by industry bodies?

Yes. Modern apprenticeships also include qualifications recognised by the relevant industry bodies. For example, graduates of our Level 3 Digital Marketing Apprenticeship become members of BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT. Additionally, our graduates are eligible for professional membership of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).

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