Skip to main content Skip to navigation


Getting started...

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a job built around a training programme which enables staff to gain practical experience and develop new skills and knowledge while working. Some people may start their career as an employee at the University on an apprenticeship. Others may start an apprenticeship later on to learn new skills as part of their career development.

What does an apprenticeship involve?

Apprentices follow a programme of learning leading to competence in their work roles. Learning outcomes are described in terms of skills, knowledge and behaviours relevant to the job in what’s known as an Apprenticeship Standard. The full list of Standards is available at

The programme of learning for each apprentice is agreed between their line manager and the training provider, taking into account the existing skills and learning requirements of the apprentice.

Most learning is done on-the-job with the support of a mentor. Apprentices also spend a minimum of 20% of their paid time doing off-the-job training, which could involve completion of assignments or attendance at College for example.

Line managers and training providers help prepare for the end of the apprenticeship when there is a formal assessment during which the apprentice must demonstrate that they can perform tasks to the standard set by industry and specified in the standard.

How long does an apprenticeship last?

Each Apprenticeship Standard specifies the typical length of time needed to gain the skills, knowledge and behaviours for successful completion of an apprenticeship, ranging from 1 to 4 years. An apprenticeship can be shorter if the apprentice can demonstrate existing competence, subject to a minimum period of 12 months or as specified in the Apprenticeship Standard.

The minimum duration is based on apprentices working 30 hours a week or more. Apprenticeships are available to people working less than 30 hours per week, but the minimum length of the apprenticeship would need to be re-calculated based on actual working hours.

Who are apprenticeships for?

Apprenticeships can be for any eligible member of staff who has the support of their line manager. The University has often recruited new members of staff as apprentices to ensure it has skilled people for the future.

Apprenticeships are also available to existing members of staff with support from line managers to support career development or prepare for a change in role.

How are apprenticeships funded?

Apprenticeships training costs are funded through the Apprenticeship Levy. The Levy was introduced in April 2017 for employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3m. Access to levy funding is managed centrally by LDC and you can contact them through

What subjects can be funded through the University’s levy?

The University’s levy can be used to pay for training activity involved in approved Apprenticeship Standards as listed on the Institute for Apprenticeships website or for one of the apprenticeship frameworks still eligible for funding.

Many of the new Standards are relevant to staff roles across the University, from Accountants and HR professionals to Technicians, Engineers and Electricians, Retail and Hospitality staff and Broadcast Technicians. HR advisers will be discussing with individual departments where their interests and priorities lie as part of the People Planning process.

How many hours a week would it take? What’s the time commitment?

An apprenticeship is a real job with a training element, so all learning is done within an apprentice’s contractual hours, including both on and off the job learning. An apprentice doing a degree as part of their apprenticeship should expect a significant level of challenge and will need to be prepared for the same pressures faced by other students doing undergraduate or masters degrees.

Find out more...

I have a vacancy which has been difficult to fill. How can apprenticeships help me?

Apprenticeships can help with difficult-to-fill vacancies by widening the field of candidates. Rather than finding a skilled recruit, supporting an employee as an apprentice means you can consider candidates who have potential to develop but may not yet possess all the skills needed for the job. An apprenticeship could help develop existing talent in the team as part of succession planning in preparation for future vacancies.

I’m interested in doing an apprenticeship. How do I access levy funding?

Start by looking at the range of Apprenticeship Standards that are available to see which one matches the skills you want to develop. The Standards that are still in development and not yet ready for funding are clearly indicated; they should be ready soon.

Once you have identified the Standard that best fits with the role you are in, or the role you want to develop into, you should discuss your plans with your line manager. Most of your development as an apprentice takes place on the job, with 20% of working time spent learning off the job so it is important that your line manager fully supports your development plan. You should agree how to ensure there is scope within your current job to fully develop the skills, knowledge and behaviours that are required for successful completion of the apprenticeship. Your line manager may need to discuss resourcing with the HR Engagement team before confirming their support.

When you have agreement to proceed, you will need to select a training provider and complete all the necessary paperwork for you to start the apprenticeship and ensure the provider is paid. The attached powerpoint slide  sets out the process. Contact for more details.

I have previously arranged for my staff to complete a modular course as part of their Continuing Professional Development. Could they do an apprenticeship instead?

The important question is how the course fits with your overall plan for staff development and succession planning.
If this is a short course that adds useful, new, but limited knowledge or skills then an apprenticeship is probably not an option. An apprenticeship involves a work-based learning programme of at least a year’s duration with development of significant new knowledge, skills and behaviours.

If the course is going to equip staff with significant knowledge, skills and behaviours that are fundamental to their future performance then an apprenticeship may be appropriate. To assist in this decision review the detail of the appropriate apprenticeship standards  

I would like to do a management qualification to support my future career development, but it’s not an apprenticeship. Can I use the levy for this course instead?

Apprenticeship levy funding is only available to pay for activity directly related to training and assessment of an apprenticeship that is listed as eligible for funding on the Institute for Apprenticeship website. Levy funding cannot be used to pay for other training.

Some Apprenticeship Standards do include achievement of a qualification or registration as part of the learning programme. Examples include the Level 5 HR Consultant Standard, the Level 7 Accountancy / Taxation Profession or the wide range of Degree Apprenticeships. Where that is the case, levy funding can be used to pay for learning leading to achievement of the qualification or professional registration but only where the Standard is clear that the qualification is integral to the apprenticeship. Find out more at

I think apprenticeships are a good thing, but how are they relevant to my academic department?

Standards are available across a range of jobs from entry level through to higher technical roles, graduate and undergraduate professions. Departments have a mix of academic, professional and technical staff working in teaching, research, managerial, administrative and support roles so across the full range of Standards there is likely to be relevance to some staff in most departments.

Apprenticeships are available across a wide range of roles with the number increasing each month as new Standards are approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships.

What does a manager need to consider when discussing an apprenticeship with existing staff?

There are a number of areas that managers will need to consider and talk through with their staff, including relevance for the member of staff’s role, support and mentoring required and the time commitment for both manager and staff member. Further guidance will be available soon, but in the meantime, please email if you have any questions.

Managers will also need to consider the potential impact that supporting one member of the team to undertake an apprenticeship could have on other colleagues, or how many similar requests the manager could support.

Further guidance will be available soon, but in the meantime, please email if you have any questions.