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A flexible approach to construction apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are a valuable investment for all construction companies, helping to build skills which are relevant to your business and its long-term requirements. They are ideal for hiring new recruits, as well as upskilling or retraining existing employees – of any age, at all levels.

All construction employers are eligible for Government incentives for taking on an apprentice – with rates currently set at up to £4,000 for those in England and Wales, and up to £5,000 for Scottish firms. Additionally, Levy-registered companies receive CITB grants of £11,000 over the course of a three-year apprenticeship.

But did you know apprenticeships can be extremely flexible too, to best suit your business and training needs?

Construction apprenticeships can be customised in a couple of ways:

  • Delivery of the apprenticeship training flexed to meet your needs, known as flexible training models
  • Reduced length of an apprenticeship where an apprentice has existing relevant knowledge or skills, known as accelerated apprenticeships.

Take on an apprentice

What are flexible training models?

All apprentice training is split between an employer and training provider:

  • On-the-job training – delivered by you to equip the apprentice with the hands-on experience to perform their role
  • Off-the-job training – delivered by a training provider to teach the apprentice the required knowledge, skills and behaviours for the job.

Apprenticeships must involve at least 20% off-the-job training, which is usually completed at a college.

However, there is great flexibility available with how the two types of training can be split and delivered. There is no set way of delivering training for any apprenticeship – you can use different training models, adjusted to suit how your business operates. Some commonly used training models include day release, block release and front-loading.

Day release

Day release training involves time in the workplace frequently interspersed with off-the-job training - for example, a small portion per day or once a week. This is commonly used by SMEs as the flexibility ensures training can fit around the day-to-day job – with the apprentice working on projects which are relevant to them and most useful to you.

What are the benefits?

  • Builds knowledge, skills and behaviours more gradually
  • Gives apprentices regular contact with other full-time learners, building their communication and wider employability skills
  • Regular training is complemented by frequent practice in the workplace.

Block release

Block release is similar to day release, but involves longer periods in the workplace, followed by more concentrated periods of off-the-job training – for example, one week at college every month. This provides more intensive sessions of on-the-job training which can help you and your apprentice build a closer working relationship.

What are the benefits?

  • Extended periods in the workplace allow apprentices to develop more in-depth workplace behaviours
  • Helps SMEs working on larger projects as their apprentices are in the workplace for longer periods
  • Often easier to embed apprentices within the wider workforce.


Front-loading helps apprentices hit the ground running with an extended block of off-the-job training at the start of their apprenticeship before any practical work experience has begun. Following this, block or day release can be used. The intensive training delivered up-front helps take the load off you as apprentices enter the workplace more prepared.

What are the benefits?

  • Particularly beneficial for SMEs as much of the basic training is handled upfront by the learning provider
  • Apprentices learn many of the vital safety aspects before stepping on site
  • Apprentices can potentially complete their apprenticeship earlier.

What are accelerated apprenticeships?

Accelerated apprenticeships are ideal for apprentices who already have some relevant experience and skills. These can come from previous work or life experiences, and crucially, aren’t limited to formal qualifications.

Accelerated apprenticeships decrease the length of an apprenticeship by three or more months and are well-suited for those looking to change career into construction.

How do they work?

Minimum requirements of an apprenticeship must still be met – it must last at least 12 months and consist of at least 20% off-the-job training.

At the start of all apprenticeships, you and the training provider complete an initial assessment, providing the apprentice with a starting point for their learning. Their existing skills, behaviours and knowledge are assessed, and any the apprentice already has do not need to be repeated during the apprenticeship.

This is called prior learning – by taking it into account, the duration of the apprenticeship can be reduced.

What are the benefits?

  • Removes unnecessary duplication of training – apprentices don’t have to learn the same thing twice
  • An attractive option for those looking to retrain or upskill
  • As long as the apprenticeship lasts at least 12 months, there is no limit to the reduction of its duration
  • Greater flexibility encourages more experienced and skilled workers to consider apprenticeships
  • Provides a more cost-effective training option.

Next steps

For more information we have helped produce a comprehensive guide to flexible apprenticeships in construction covering everything you need to know.

Are you an SME looking to upskill your business? Deliver a flexible construction apprenticeship today.