What are apprenticeships?

An apprenticeship is a paid job which offers work experience alongside training with an education provider. Apprentices learn whilst they earn, achieving qualifications and building their skills in a real world context.

Benefits for your business

Why will apprentices help build your business?

Engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships are fast becoming sought after roles as the need for qualified staff grows and increasing compeition can be seen amongst Engineering companies for the best applicants.

Taking apprentices into your business should be part of your long term strategy as it can:

  • boost productivity by freeing up more experienced staff for expert level tasks
  • build skills and knowledge in your team
  • enhance your company reputation in the local area
  • ensure diversity of age, ethnicity and gender in your workforce
  • increase loyalty and retention of staff in your business by showing investment in their potential

Over 3/4 of employers say that apprentices increase productivity across their workforce.

Apprenticeship image 2

What are the different levels of apprenticeships?

Just like for other qualifications, there is a range of levels for apprenticeships.

  • From Level 2 (equivalent to GCSEs) to Level 7 (or Masters degree) in England, Wales & Northern Ireland.
  • From Level 5 (equivalent to Nationals) to Level 10 (or Masters degree) in Scotland.

The standards, frameworks and competencies for apprenticeships differ in each of the 4 UK nations (scroll down the page to find nation-specific information).

UCB apprentice image in lab

SMEs and Apprenticeships

Did you know that despite an increase in the number of candidates some SME businesses struggle to recruit apprentices to fill the roles they have on offer? Read our blog to find out more about the oversupply problem and what you can do about it as an SME employer.

Coming soon - link to oversupply blog

Jargon buster

SME Employer Skills Champion image


The apprenticeship levy is a tax on larger employer that is used to fund apprenticeship training and small businesses with apprenticeship costs

Large Employer Skills Champion


Providers are the educational institutions who manage the training qualifications for apprenticeships, such as a school or college.

Intermediate Level Apprentice Image


Placements are the work based training activities that apprentices undertake, these are long-term job based roles.

Graduate, Degree or Higher level apprentice image


Each apprenticeship has a set of standards which the apprentice must meet to pass their qualification.

Advanced level apprentice image


Apprentice qualifications have levels equivalent from GCSE or Nationals (level 2) all the way up to Masters (level 7) so everyone understands how they relate to other qualifications.

Useful information and links - click the arrows to expand each section

UK Gov website

The UK Gov website is a good place for to start looking for information.  We've picked out a few links for you below.  

General guidance on Industry placements, including case study examples:

Visit the Government website

General Information about T Levels:

Employer guide on placements (document) More detailed guidance for employer on placements (webpage) Overview of T Level information Policy for Industry placements (2019) T Level funding T Levels and Technical Standards

Government statement on the new Advanced British Standard qualification and how it impacts T-Levels:

Read the statement


This webinar is aimed at SMEs who are interested in hosting placements for T Levels and contains useful information and case study examples from employers who have already been through the process.

Watch the webinar Find more webinars to watch

Apprentices.Scot - Scottish Government website

Information can be found across Scottish Government websites, such as

Apprentices.scot - which is a good starting place for Scottish businesses working with apprentices with information about funding, applications and the levy specific to Scotland.

Find out more

Skills Development Scotland - which contains information for employers and applicants specific to the Scottish Education criteria

Visit Skills Development Scotland

Welsh Government website

The Welsh Government website is a good starting place for Welsh businesses working with apprentices with information about funding, applications and the levy specific to Wales.

Find out more

About apprenticeships

About Apprenticeships features information, podcasts and advice for busineses.  In this blog from 2022 you can find 10 key facts that you should know about apprenticeships.

10 key facts that every employer should know

The Apprenticeship Guide - blog archive

Visit the apprenticeship guide for access to their archive of blog of case studies, information and interesting topics for businesses.

Find out more

The Apprenticeship Hub

The Apprenticeship Hub have a range of guidance including guides, videos, forms and infographics that will help you to steer your path through apprenticeships.  This site is well worth a look whether you're new to apprenticeship or want to check the latest guidance.

Find out more

Lifetime training - rules for employers

This guide from Lifetime training focusses on the rules for employers offering Apprenticeship roles, including levels of pay, training, agreements and where to find more help.

Find out more

Need 2 Succeed - employer guide to apprenticeships

This guide from Need 2 Succeed contains information on qualification levels, employer responsibilities, funding, the training, the learning and some do's and don'ts.

Find out more

UCAS - information for Businesses

UCAS have long been the place to go for students seeking graduate placements with universities.  As the education landscape changes they have diversified to also offer support to Apprentices and are in the process of launch services to match recruiting employers and potential apprentice candidates.

Follow the link below to find their advise for employers and explore their site to find out how you can use their services to advertise for local apprentices that match the skills and qualification that you need.

Find out more

Understanding the Education Landscape

Visit our pages looking deeper into the Education Landscape that will help you to understand the options available to your business and where you can get involved.

The Education Landsccape

And if you're confused about how Apprenticeships at different levels fit within career pathways these diagrams for England, Wales and Scotland will help you to put apprenticeships into context.

Career Pathway diagrams

What about T-levels?

Confused about T-levels and how they work with apprenticeships? Looking for guidance and information? We've pulled together a simple guide for you to make the most of the best type of placement for your business.

Go to the T Levels page