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Guidance for registering onto a SAP

Employers who are looking to register a new trainee onto a specialist applied-skills programme (SAP) must make sure that they can meet the programme's rules. They also need to make sure that the trainee they're registering onto the programme meet the criteria for a new entrant.

Basic ground rules

  • The new entrant must have a full-time contract of direct employment (PAYE) with a Levy registered employer. The trainee should not have a zero-hour contract and must be provided with a minimum of 30 hours employment per week, paid at least at the minimum wage rate

  • The new entrant must not have been enrolled in another CITB grant-assisted apprenticeship for the same vocational qualification (VQ)

  • For the employer to claim the achievement element of the grants, they must allow the new entrant to attend all 'off job' modules

  • The employer cannot set an upper age limit for new entrants, although they may state the preferred age of a new entrant when taking them on. The minimum age for a new entrant is set at 16 years old. Where a trainee is 18 or under, the company will be required to provide a young person’s risk assessment

  • The employer must make sure that their new entrant applies and gets a CSCS Trainee Card in the first three months of training

  • The employer is not allowed to put forward sub-contractors or self-employed workers even if they're referred to in the employer's Levy Return.

The programmes are open to non-members as well as members of a specialist trade association.

New entrant criteria

A new entrant can be:

  • A career changer (i.e. new entrant to the sector):
    • The person may have already completed an apprenticeship and attained a VQ for a different occupation. If they previously undertook a CITB grant-support apprenticeship, they are not eligible to enroll for a SAP.
  • Currently working in the sector but with no formal training:
    • The person may be employed in the sector for the last 12 months, but has had no formal training in the specialist skills and has not registered for a VQ in that occupation.
  • A career progressor:
    • The person may be moving up in their current company or moving from one company to another to take up a higher role. For example, labourer to skilled operative.


While these training providers have been contracted and paid by CITB to provide the training, employers still must bear some of the training and assessment cost. These are payable to the partner training provider.