National Apprenticeship Week is celebrated in mid-February each year and it aims to celebrate apprenticeships and show employers the many benefits they can bring to a business. More and more employers are choosing to hire apprentices to join their organisations. Apprenticeships are a great way for employers to nurture their own talent, through providing both on-the-job training and off-the-job learning.
They also provide an excellent route for young people to enter the labour market allowing individuals to train on the job and gain a qualification at the same time. The apprentice’s learning takes place in context and provides a real understanding of the working world, combining practical skills with theoretical knowledge.
Apprenticeships can therefore offer a career route into the organisation and an invaluable opportunity to develop the expertise the business needs now and in the future. They have become a key government policy in the UK.
Since April 2017 large employers in the UK have been required to pay an apprenticeship levy and other employers are required to contribute some of the costs. An apprentice should be told about their rights as an employee – what they are entitled to expect and what their obligations are to their employer and colleagues. This is mandatory in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Apprenticeships are available to anyone aged over the age of 16, not in full-time education, and eligible to work in the UK. An apprentice is an employee, so all apprentices receive a wage. The Apprenticeship National Minimum Wage is set by the Low Pay Commission and revised on an annual basis. If an apprentice is aged 19 or over and has completed the first year of their apprenticeship, they are entitled to the National Minimum Wage for their age group.