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Apprenticeships explained

Apprenticeships are work-based training programmes designed around the needs of employers, which lead to nationally recognised qualifications. They provide a cost-effective way of training your workforce and also help you develop the specialist skills you need to keep pace with the latest technology and working practices in your sector.

Good for business

Apprentices tend to be eager, motivated, flexible and loyal to the company that invested in them. Remember, an apprentice is with you because they want to be – they have made an active choice to learn on the job and a commitment to a specific career.

Most apprenticeships take between one and four years to complete. Many of our Intermediate apprentices progress to a Level 3 Advanced apprenticeship after completing the Intermediate at Level 2. We are also now offering Level 4/5 Foundation Degree programmes and apprenticeships in some vocations which may be an option following the Advanced programme.

“There are so many great opportunities out there for young people to earn as they learn, under the wing of employers and the College. Progression onto higher qualifications are more readily available than ever with companies wanting to invest in people - so you can end up with a degree without incurring the debt attached to university.”
– Gina Bubbins, Director of Business Development

We have over 20 years’ experience of placing apprentices in businesses so you can rely on us to guide you through the process.

How an Apprenticeship works

We will:


  • help you decide which apprenticeship programme is right for your business
  • explain the way that apprenticeships might work for you
  • explain the new Apprenticeship Levy information to you
  • identify if funding is available
  • support your existing staff into apprenticeships or help you to recruit an apprentice
  • agree a training plan with you and your apprentice
  • deliver the training and provide on-going support to you and your apprentice, with regular feedback
  • measure the impact an apprentice has had on your business.

What does it involve?

An apprentice must be employed by you in a suitable job role to complete the apprenticeship. Most of the training is ‘on the job’ at your premises. The rest is delivered by us at College. As with all employees, you are also responsible for their wages and paying any tax and national insurance.

“Bedford College has continually supported us and our apprentices from day one. There has always been good communication between us and the training co-ordinator visits at least once a month to see apprentices and other staff.”
– Janet Bishop, HR Manager, CiLEX


How long does it take?

The length of an apprenticeship varies depending upon the prior skills of the apprentice, the qualification being obtained and the industry sector. Generally, apprenticeships take between one and three years to complete.

Is there a cost?

As of April 2017 all UK employers who have a total wage bill in excess of £3 million a year will pay the new apprenticeship levy. The levy rate will be set at 0.5% of your wage bill offset by a levy allowance of £15,000.

If your wage bill is less than this you will not pay the apprenticeship levy, however you will need to make a contribution to fund any apprentice you employ. You will need to co-invest 10% of the agreed price and the government will pay the remaining 90%. For small employers (fewer than 50 employees) who take on younger apprentices (aged 16-18) the government will pay 100% of the apprenticeship costs. Find out more about the Levy.

Any employer who takes on a 16-18 year old apprentice will receive a £1,000 incentive

We would welcome the opportunity to visit your company to discuss our apprenticeship service. To arrange a free, no obligation visit call our Business Development team on 01234 291747 or complete our online enquiry form.


Your responsibilities


  • Interview and select the apprentice
  • Issue a contract of employment
  • Provide a safe and secure working environment
  • Provide supervision and mentoring
  • Commit to providing time off for learning
  • Provide sufficient breadth of experience to cover the apprenticeship framework

Our responsibilities


  • Advertise the vacancy and pre-screen applicants
  • Administration of the apprenticeship programme
  • Delivery of training
  • Assessment of work-based competence
  • Mentoring of the apprentice
  • Intermediary between the apprentice and employer
  • Quality of learning experience

“We had initially dismissed taking on an apprentice because we assumed there would be a lot of paperwork involved and that we’d have to take existing staff away from their work to train the apprentice in-house. However, when we looked into the scheme in more detail, and spoke to Keesha who was already doing work experience with us, we realised that Apprenticeships could be an ideal solution to our staffing issue.”
– Zia Stofen, Office Manager, Potton Pre-School