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Whether a start-up, large corporate or SME, many companies currently offer apprenticeships. They recognise the enormous impact that employing apprentices has on the business, both bottom line and culturally, as well as diversifying the skills and age of their workforce.

For every £1 invested in apprentices, the UK economy is boosted by £28, making them a great investment for the future of your own business as well as supporting economic growth.

They also offer the chance to build a loyal and dedicated work force, to bring new fresh ideas to your business along with the opportunity to maximise the potential of your employees. And if your business is part of one of the many sectors to be suffering from a shortage of skills, apprentices can help bring the gap and boost productivity!

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There are incentive payments available when you hire certain types of apprentice.

Employers can get £1,000 for taking on an apprentice who is either:

  • aged 16 to 18 years old, or
  • aged 19 to 25 years old and has an education, health and care (EHC) plan or has been in the care of their local authority

The payment can be used for any costs related to having an apprentice, for example their uniform, IT equipment or to offset part of their salary.

You’ll get the payment in 2 equal instalments: 50% after the apprentice completes 90 days of their apprenticeship and the remaining 50% after 365 days. To get the full payment, the apprenticeship must last for at least one year.

You can apply for the incentive payment through your digital apprenticeship service (DAS) account (opens in a new window). Your chosen training provider can help you apply for the incentive payment.

Find out more about apprenticeship incentive payments (opens in a new window).

Between 1 August 2020 and 31st January 2022, additional incentives were available for apprentices of any age, however these have now ended.

Traineeships are aimed at giving 16-24 year-olds the opportunity to develop the skills they need to find, and succeed in, employment or progress onto an Apprenticeship. They are comprised of three main elements to prepare you for an Apprenticeship, including English and Maths, work preparation skills and a practical work placement with a local employer. Traineeships are unpaid (however travel expenses and costs of meals may be reimbursed) and should be viewed as a stepping stone into work. They can last anywhere between six weeks and six months.

Traineeship Employer Incentives

An additional £111 million is to be invested this year for traineeships in England – amounting to 30,000 new traineeships being offered to young people (opens in a new window).

  • A new payment of £1,000.00 per trainee will be for employers in England that provide high quality work placements for 16-24 year olds (limited to 10 trainees per employer)*
  • Eligibility for traineeships has been expanded to those who hold up to a level 3 qualification*

An apprenticeship is a real job with an accompanying assessment and skills development programme which lasts for at least a year. It is a way for employees to earn while they learn, gaining valuable skills and knowledge in a specific job role. The apprentice gains this through a wide mix of learning in the workplace, formal off-the-job training and the opportunity to practise new skills in a real work environment.

Taking on an apprentice is good value for money. Large employers can use a ring-fenced pot of money called the  Apprenticeship Levy to pay for apprenticeship training.

For small businesses, the training costs are usually completely covered, either by the government or by a larger employer with funding to share.

The GM Levy Matchmaking Service can help SMEs find funding to pay for 100% of their apprenticeship training costs.

The employer is responsible for paying the apprentice's salary. As of the 1st April 2022, the National Minimum Wage for Apprentices is £4.81 an hour, although many employers choose to pay a higher rate, and you should try to pay the apprentice in line with their duties.

For Apprentices who are under 25 years old the employer enjoys the benefit of paying no Employer National insurance contributions.

By taking on a trainee or apprentice, you are making a commitment to developing an individual who will learn the job-specific skills required within your business. In return, they’ll learn your company’s culture and begin contributing to your bottom line more and more the longer they are with you. It’s estimated that the average apprentice contributes £28 to their employer for every £1 spent on them.

Apprentices train towards recognised Standards designed by employers. Through their apprenticeship, apprentices will gain the technical knowledge, practical experience and wider skills and behaviours they need for their immediate job and future career.

At the end of their Apprenticeship apprentices are tested to ensure they are occupationally competent by undertaking an independent End Point Assessment

The apprentice gains this through formal off-the-job training and the opportunity to practise these new skills in a real work environment.

Offering an apprenticeship doesn't need to be difficult. There are lots of training providers in Greater Manchester who will be able to support you through the process and reduce the demand on your time to get things up and running.

If you would like some help getting started with an apprenticeship, the Skills for Growth SME support service (opens in a new window) can help you through the whole process.

It’s very much up to you as a business. Whilst some large employers have their own in house programmes businesses of all sizes work alongside approved training providers. Together you can develop tailored programmes ideally suited to your business and employees which meet nationally approved standards.

Having made a considerable effort to support and train apprentices the majority of employers will seek to retain their apprentices by offering them a permanent position in their business.

Having spent at least a year learning the ins and outs of the business, and having received on average £10,000 worth of training (dependant on government funding available), you will have developed a capable individual ready to work, so why let another company benefit from your investment?

The easiest way to get started offering an apprenticeship is to through the Skills for Growth SME support service (opens in a new window). They can support you through the whole process, put you in touch with the most appropriate learning provider, and be on hand to advise on the process to make things as simple as possible for you.

If you are a large, levy-paying employer interested in growing or enhancing your apprenticeship offer, you can contact us.

All employers operating in the UK, with a pay bill over £3 million each year pay the Apprenticeship Levy which is 0.5% of their pay bill over £3m per annum.

All levy payers have their own Apprenticeship levy account and are able to use their funds to  pay for training of their own apprentices.

They can also use their Levy funds to train apprentices in other organisations.

If you would like to donate or receive levy funds, you can visit the GM Apprenticeship Levy Matchmaking Service (opens in a new window).

Apprenticeship Levy funds are managed using the Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS). To find out more, you can either:
visit the knowledge hub (opens in a new window)
• search for help in the apprenticeship service at any time
call (08000 150 600) or email (

Funds in your digital account provided by the Apprenticeship Levy can only be used towards the costs of apprenticeship training and end point assessment. This must be with an approved training provider and assessment organisation. It can’t be used on other costs associated with your apprentices or wider training effort, for example wages, statutory licences to practise, travel and subsidiary costs, managerial costs, traineeships, work placement programmes or the costs of setting up an apprenticeship programme.

The Government has committed sufficient funding to ensure that all apprenticeships are funded.

If you don't pay the apprenticeship levy,  the Government will cover at least 95% of the costs of the apprenticeship training regardless of the size or turnover of your organisation. The employer is still responsible for the wages of the apprentice.

For apprentices aged 16-18 working in companies with less than 50 staff, 100% of the Apprenticeship training costs are met from government funding.

You can also request a Levy donation from another organisation, which would cover 100% of the training costs. To find out more about Levy transfers, visit the GM Levy Matchmaking Service (opens in a new window).