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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.

“Apprenticeships are vital to the future success of our industry as they provide young people with the skills and qualifications they need to progress.

The combination of on-the-job training and classroom learning has a proven track record for success.”

Anwyl Homes

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 Wales.

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

Foundation apprenticeships (Level 2)

A foundation 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.

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 a foundation apprenticeship. Apprentices can work towards Level 3 work-based qualifications, such as a BTEC.

Higher apprenticeships (Level 4 - 5)

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) are on hand to help you every step of the way.

The Apprenticeship Service is the digital hub to help you advertise, manage and track your vacancies, as well as help you recruit an apprentice.

All apprentices in Wales will follow an approved Apprenticeship Framework. They ensure an apprentice has the relevant knowledge, skills and qualifications.

Frameworks set out the entry requirements, levels available and progression opportunities, examples of job roles, qualifications gained after successful completion of the apprenticeship, length of time it will take to complete and any additional learning available.

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

The Welsh Government has more information on Apprenticeship Frameworks.

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 vacancies in Wales are managed through the Apprenticeship Vacancy Service. It is designed to:

  • Help you advertise, manage and track your vacancies
  • Help you recruit an apprentice
  • Allow future apprentices to search for vacancies.

It features an interactive dashboard allowing you to keep track of vacancies and applications, as well as employer profiles to give potential applicants a snapshot of your business.

You can either use the service’s forms or our template to advertise your vacancies.

The service is fully bilingual, allowing you to upload opportunities in Welsh or English.

Advertise your vacancy.

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 apprenticeship learning agreement with them – which acts as a contract between the employer, training provider and apprentice.

It is the responsibility of the training provider to arrange the apprenticeship learning agreement.

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 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 here.

To receive CITB financial support, you must use an approved apprenticeship training provider that has a direct contract with the Welsh Government.

Find an approved apprenticeship training provider.

CITB 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.

You can apply for this funding if you’re registered with us and your apprentice is eligible for apprentice attendance or Specialist Applied-skills Programme (SAP) grants.

The Travel to Train page provides details on eligibility and the application process.

Government financial support

Financial support from Government can help:

  • To support apprenticeship training and assessment
  • As an incentive payment for other costs.

Incentive payment for employing disabled people

  • £2,000 for each new apprentice recruited
  • Payments are restricted to 10 learners per business
  • Incentives do not apply to degree apprenticeships.

The payments will be paid to your training provider, and you will receive it from them.

For more information Business Wales.Gov Funding available

Welsh apprenticeships changed in 2022

From September 2022 some construction apprenticeships in Wales will be different and employers in Wales will have an enhanced role in their delivery.

Employers will be encouraged to recruit apprentices directly from full-time provision and also take a greater role in signing off their competency at the end of their course.

CITB continue to work with partners including City and Guilds to support Welsh employers with these changes and ensure they have all the information they need.

For more information on the changes

What is an apprenticeship?

  • Apprenticeships are jobs that include recognised qualifications and job-specific skills
  • They combine learning at a college or training provider with on-site experience, to give apprentices the right mix of technical and practical skills
  • Apprentices earn a wage while they work are employed to do a job while studying for a formal qualification – there are a number of qualifications which make up the apprenticeship framework
  • Apprentices in every role follow an approved study programme, which means they will gain a nationally recognised qualification
  • There are different types and levels of apprenticeships ranging from Level 2 to 6

What changes are being made to apprenticeship frameworks in Wales?

  • Qualifications Wales reviewed qualifications in the construction and built environment sector and found that a number of changes should be made, to better meet the skills needs of employers in Wales.
  • A new suite of fundable qualifications has been developed, that will help futureproof the skills and knowledge needed in the industry.
  • Designed with employers, these new qualifications will reduce complexity, improve learning outcomes and ensure learners are fit for progression to the modern workplace.
  • CITB are fully supportive of these changes and have been involved in the development process.

When will the changes be made?

The new Foundation and Progression full-time qualifications have been taught in colleges from 01 September 2021. The new Level 3 Apprenticeship qualifications will begin from September 2022. The Welsh Government intends to publish the new apprenticeship frameworks on Monday 01 August 2022.

As a Welsh employer, what are my responsibilities in the new apprenticeship framework?

  • Employers have an enhanced role in the delivery of the new qualifications, to work with and support apprentices throughout their apprenticeship. You will need to:
  • Work with the training provider to guide and support the apprentice throughout their journey
  • Provide opportunities for the apprentice to carry out activities
  • Meet with training providers to review and record apprentice progress
  • Support the apprentice in compiling portfolio of evidence
  • Confirm when the apprentice has met the required standard for the trade
  • Support the apprentice in applying for their relevant industry competency card

As an employer can I still claim a grant if I take on an apprentice?

CITB continues to provide grant funding for eligible employers. The grant funding is based on the duration of the apprenticeship, which will vary depending on the occupation plus an achievement grant paid on successful completion of the apprenticeship.

What CSCS cards will apprentices be eligible for at the end of their apprenticeships?

Details of which CSCS cards the affected trades will attain can be obtained on the Qualifications Wales website here.

Who was involved in the decision to change Welsh apprenticeship qualifications?

  • The Welsh Government has overall responsibility for education and training in Wales. They are responsible for the approval, publication and funding of apprenticeship frameworks. The new frameworks for construction have been developed by the Welsh Government Construction Framework Advisory Group, which includes industry and key stakeholders including the National Training Federation for Wales and Colegau Cymru.
  • Qualifications Wales is the independent body responsible for regulating qualifications in Wales. They are responsible for all decisions and direction around the new construction apprenticeship qualifications. The decision to develop the Level 3 apprenticeship qualifications was made by following the findings and recommendations of their ‘Building the Future’ review report and advice from the Qualifications Wales Advisory Panel.  This view was supported feedback from numerous construction companies and the then Welsh Government policy relating to apprenticeship levels.
  • City & Guilds and EAL have worked with employers in the built environment sector across Wales to develop the new qualifications against the National Occupation Standards, so learners are more confident and ready for the workplace.
  • CITB have supported the Welsh Government and Qualifications Wales with industry and stakeholder engagement and consultation for the new qualifications and frameworks, through the Framework Development Advisory Group. CITB also supports the sector in understanding the impact of the new qualifications.
  • Work-based learning providers deliver apprenticeships in Wales and are responsible for supporting employers with their apprenticeship recruitment and monitoring to ensure the progress of an apprentice and the requirements of the apprenticeship’s framework.  
  • Colleges/training centres teach and assess apprentices within the apprenticeship frameworks and are also responsible for signing off apprentice competency.

Where can I find more information and support?

The Skills for Wales website has been developed as a single source of information for Welsh employers, learners and training providers. The Employer section includes an Employer Confirmation Guide with details to support you throughout the process.