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Apprenticeship FAQs

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a job which is accompanied by a skills training programme. It allows the apprentice to gain a combination of on-the-job practical experience as well as technical knowledge and functional, transferable skills.

What does the training include?

The framework for an apprenticeship usually includes a competency-based element (e.g. an NVQ), a knowledge-based or technical element, a transferrable skills element (e.g. Functional Skills), and a module on employee rights and responsibilities. Every apprenticeship is linked to a specific job role and will be altered to be appropriate to that apprentice’s job.

How many hours should an apprentice work?

An apprentice must work for a minimum of 30 hours per week. Concessions can be made for employees who work as few as 16 hours per week, but the course itself will then be extended. In order to work more than 40 hours the apprentice will have to sign a waiver and any apprentices under 18 will have to gain permission from a parent or guardian.

Do I have to pay my apprentice?

Yes. The minimum wage for apprentices under 19 years old or in their first year of an apprenticeship is £3.40 per hour and due to rise to £3.50 per hour in April 2017. Other than that, apprentices must be paid at least the national minimum wage for their age group. Apprentices are also paid for the time they spend studying whether that is at work, at home or in college. Full details can be found here.

Can CWC recommend a salary for apprentices?

City of Westminster College does not work with employers who pay less than £6 per hour because we believe that apprentices should be treated fairly and as a valued member of staff. Across the roles we have recruited for in the last year, the average hourly wage for a Level 2 apprentice was £6.55 and for a Level 3 apprentice was £7.03.

How long does an apprenticeship take?

The Skills Funding Agency regulations state that an apprenticeship must last no less than 12 months with most Level 2 and Level 3 apprenticeships lasting no more than 18 months. Level 4 (Higher) apprenticeships take 2-3 years to complete.The actual duration will depend on the ability of the individual apprentice.

What happens when the apprenticeship has been completed?

It is our hope that you will continue to employ the apprentice as a permanent member of staff. As of May 2017, there must be a genuine job available upon completion for any apprentice you take on.

What level of apprentice am I looking for?

The level the apprentice should study at will depend on the job role and the ability of the apprentice. City of Westminster College offers a variety of levels of apprenticeship of which the two most common are Level 2 and Level 3. On the whole, Intermediate Level 2 qualifications are most suited to less experienced newcomers who may be taking on entry-level tasks. They are equivalent to 5 GCSEs A*-C. Advanced Level 3 qualifications are aimed more at those who already have some experience in a relevant job role or sector and these apprentices may already have some A Level qualifications. They are equivalent to 2 A Level passes. Our Apprenticeship Team will help you decide which level you need and make sure the apprentice is capable of the work which will be set.

Does an apprentice have to be a new hire?

No. Anyone can be an apprentice as long as they are not exempt (see below). Any current member of staff can be trained with us – it is just a matter of choosing the appropriate course and framework for them. If you are looking to employ a new member of staff, City of Westminster College offers a free recruitment service tailored to your personal preferences and needs.

What are the entry criteria?

As of 1st May 2017, the apprenticeship candidate:

·       Cannot hold a qualification materially similar to the apprenticeship

·       Must spend at least 50% of their working hours in England

·       Must have the right to work in England

·       Cannot be in full-time education

·       Must be 16 or over.


Are there specific start dates?


Many of our apprenticeship courses are roll-on, roll-off with completely flexible start dates. We host monthly induction sessions at the college which staff will attend in order to sign-up to the course. If you are taking on a sufficient number of apprentices, we may be able to send an assessor and induct your staff in the workplace.


How will the learner be assessed?

The courses are based on blended learning using an online e-portfolio software called SmartAssessor. This software facilitates distance learning sessions, provides resources and generates reports for employers meaning there is minimum disruption to your workplace during training. Apprentices simply upload the work they have done into their e-portfolio where it can be marked and assessed remotely. There will also be assessments which take place in the workplace with assessors visiting the apprentice to observe them at work. As of May 2017, Standards will also require additional end-point assessment. Please consult our Apprenticeship Reforms page for full details.


Will the apprentice need to attend college days?

Apprentices must spend 20% of their time training off-the-job. Depending on the Framework or Standard, the delivery may be entirely in the workplace or under block or day release. A degree of that is up to you as the employer and we are happy to discuss your requirements with you. There may also be a need for the apprentice to undertake Functional Skills training which is delivered at the college one day a week or in the workplace.


What comes next?

You will need to contact our Business Development team, either by filling in an enquiry form here or by emailing You can also call us direct on 0207 258 2711. A member of our Apprenticeship Team can talk to you about your needs and may set up a face-to-face meeting with you to discuss apprenticeships in full and any recruitment needs you have.