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There has never been a better time to take on an apprentice with support from CITB and the Government. The information below will tell you all you need to know about the process of hiring an apprentice, and how CITB can help you along the way.

An apprenticeship combines learning at a college or training provider with on-site experience to give apprentices the right mix of technical and practical skills to become a valuable and productive member of the team in any construction business.

Apprenticeships help future-proof the industry and provide an excellent way to secure a skilled, diverse future workforce.

“We have really been pleased at the quality of the apprentices and their levels of motivation and passion to learn.

I now feel that we are making a positive contribution to the future of the construction industry by enabling more on-site apprentices to develop and learn with us than we could ever have dreamed of.”

Shropshire Homes Ltd

What are apprenticeships?

An apprenticeship, which must last for a minimum of 12 months, combines hands-on work with the opportunity to train and obtain qualifications. Apprentices’ time is typically split with 20% at a training provider – such as a college – and the remaining 80% spent with the employer.

At the end of it, the apprentice gains official certification, which will be equivalent to traditional qualifications. The employer gains a dedicated, enthusiastic worker at a fraction of the cost of a typical member of staff – and likely a new employee too as the majority of apprentices stay with their employer after their apprenticeship.

Apprenticeship levels

There are four types or levels of apprenticeship available in England.

Employers should be clear about what level of apprenticeship is being offered to the apprentice. The information about the level is written down in the apprentice agreement signed by the employer, apprentice and learning provider.      

Intermediate apprenticeships (Level 2)

An intermediate apprenticeship is the first step on the apprenticeship ladder, with no set entry requirements. It is equivalent to five good GCSE passes. They typically take 12 to 24 months to complete, split between 80% work and 20% study.

Advanced apprenticeships (Level 3)

An advanced apprenticeship is equivalent to two A Levels. Applicants should ideally have five GCSEs at grade 4 (formerly grade C) or above or have completed an intermediate apprenticeship. Advanced apprentices can work towards Level 3 work-based qualifications, such as a BTEC.

Higher apprenticeships (Level 4 and above)

Higher apprenticeships are programmes designed to meet employers’ needs at advanced skill levels and include qualifications at a level equivalent to higher education (HE). They can take up to five years to complete, and often specialise in management-based skills.

Degree apprenticeships (Level 6 – 7)

Degree apprenticeships typically last 3 to 6 years and are a popular training route in sectors such as architecture and civil engineering. Unlike other apprenticeships, employers work with universities rather than colleges. The universities will have set entry requirements for candidates.

You can find out more about apprenticeships on the Go Construct website.

How to hire an apprentice

Finding and recruiting an apprentice can be simple – there’s six key steps: create an Apprenticeship Service account, pick a programme, find a training provider, advertise, interview and hire your apprentice.

If you need further support, our New Entrant Support Team (NEST) who are on hand to help you every step of the way.

The Apprenticeship Service is the digital hub to manage all aspects of your apprenticeship, including funding, finding apprenticeships and training providers, recruiting apprentices and more.

An apprenticeship standard sets out the skills, knowledge and behaviours required of apprentices. They also show what an apprentice will be doing in their day-to-day job role.

To choose a standard, think about which skills and training would be beneficial to your business, or particular areas you want to expand.

The Institute for Apprenticeships has more information on apprenticeship standards.

Once you’ve picked a course, you need an organisation to deliver it.

The government’s online portal shows you the different training providers available for your course.

Our how to find the right training provider section gives you all the information you need.

Next, you’ll need to find the ideal candidate for your vacancy.

How to write an apprenticeship job advert

Before putting together an apprentice advert, here’s a few key things you’ll need to know:

  • The advert name - this must relate to the apprenticeship training and use the word ‘apprentice’ or ‘apprenticeship’
  • The training that the apprentice will take
  • Training provider that will deliver the training
  • Number of positions that are available
  • Your organisation’s name, address and location
  • The start date, application closing date and whether the job is disability confident
  • Skills and duties required of the apprentice
  • Duration of the apprenticeship and details of a typical working week
  • Wage you will offer.

A great advert will promote your company and encourage the best people with the right skills and qualities to apply.

As well as the above, the key parts of an apprenticeship advert are the person specification and job description:

  • A person specification should include essential and desirable knowledge criteria, previous experience and the specific skills you're looking for in the successful candidate
  • A job description should include a job title, the main duties and purpose of the role, information about the company and the job location.

Download our apprenticeship advert template to get started

How to advertise your vacancy

All apprenticeship opportunities can now be managed through Talentview Construction – the new, one-stop-shop for career starters, giving access to not only apprenticeships, but traineeships, work experience, entry level job and training opportunities too.

You will need to continue to upload their vacancies via your National Apprenticeship Service account and these will appear on Talentview. Individuals can apply via the Talentview portal or upload their CVs for you to search for them.

While hiring an apprentice can be a relatively similar process to recruiting any other member of staff – the interviews can be quite different.

Traditional job interviews are all about evaluating interviewees’ experience, skills and pre-existing knowledge, whereas interviewing an apprentice is about understanding their potential.

When recruiting for an apprentice, it’s important to remember that this could be a candidate’s very first interview. You’ll need to take a flexible approach – focus on their enthusiasm and desire to learn, and whether their motivations and attitude aligns with your business.

With this in mind, here’s some example interview questions you could ask them:

  • Why have you chosen the apprenticeship route?
  • Why are you passionate about this job?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
  • What accomplishment are you most proud of and why?
  • Apprenticeships are made up a job and study, how would you manage your time?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Have you got any experience – either at work or school – in this type of role?
  • Describe a problem or challenge you’ve had to deal with
  • What do you understand about what we do here?

For more advice on interviewing and recruiting apprentices the right way, the Supply Chain Sustainability School’s Recruiting People, Fairly and Inclusively module tells you everything you need to know.

Once you’ve chosen the best person for your business, you’ll need to sign an apprentice agreement with them – which acts as a contract between the employer and apprentice.

This covers the length of employment, the training provided, their working conditions and the qualifications they will be working towards.

Financial support available to help

Apprenticeships are a fantastic financial investment. An employee who has recently completed an apprenticeship increases productivity in their business by £214 per week.

Micro, small and medium-sized businesses can have up to 95% of their apprenticeship training costs covered by Government grants.

CITB financial support

Attendance and achievement grants

All construction companies who are registered with CITB, even those who do not pay the Levy, are eligible to receive £11,000 in CITB Apprenticeship grants if an apprentice completes a 3-year apprenticeship programme

Check if your apprenticeship is eligible for CITB grants.

Travel to Train grant

We will fund 80% of accommodation costs for apprentices who attend colleges or training providers where overnight stays and travel to and from a hotel to a place of training are required.

In addition, employers can claim excess costs for apprentice travel where the cost exceeds £20 per week.

More information on eligibility can be found on CITB Travel to Train page .

Goverment financial support

The Apprenticeship Levy is a UK-wide employment tax. The Levy only applies if you have an annual pay bill of £3 million or more. It is charged at 0.5% of your annual pay bill.

If you do not need to pay the Apprenticeship Levy, you will only pay 5% towards the cost of training and assessing your apprentice – the Government will cover the rest (95%). This is paid directly to the training provider.

If you do pay the Apprenticeship Levy, you will receive funding to spend on training and assessing your apprentices. The Government will add 10%.

Transfer your Apprenticeship Levy

Employers who pay the Apprenticeship Levy and have unused funds can transfer up to 25% of their total annual funds to other employers. This can help small employers meet the 5% contribution of apprenticeship training.

For more information see Gov.uk guidance: Transferring your apprenticeship levy to another business

Government incentives

You can apply for an incentive payment of £1,000 for new apprentices who join your organisation.

To be eligible, the apprentice must either be:

  • Aged 16 to 18 years old
  • Under 25 and has an education, health and care (EHC) plan or has been in the care of their local authority.

This £1,000 payment will be paid to your training provider, and you will receive it from them. It can be spent on any costs associated with supporting an apprentice in the workplace. For example, on uniforms, your apprentice’s travel or their salary.

More information available on Gov.uk Guidance: Payments for hiring a young apprentice