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How apprenticeships work across the UK

Rhino Trade Insurance 19 March 2023

Imagine the scene, you have trained hard to achieve your qualifications in a trade. You've spent a few years on the job, built up your own business, and now the industry is booming. Perhaps it's time to consider taking on an apprentice to train, help with the workload and support the future of the trade sector. 

How exactly do apprenticeships work when you run a trade company? Let's look at what's involved, what boxes you must tick and why you should consider taking on another pair of hands in the first place. 

Overview of the apprenticeship system in the UK

Whether you are a time-served Plumber, Electrician or Carpenter, you know how an apprenticeship works as a trainee. It offers you the chance to kickstart a lifelong career in a skilled profession where the UK's talent pool is slowly shrinking. More often than not, the main reasons for starting a trade apprenticeship are that you learn a valuable skill whilst getting paid and earning qualifications along the way. The fact that you can earn a nice income makes it all the more enticing. 

What are the nitty-gritty details of a trade apprenticeship, though?

  • Available for anyone over the age of 16
  • Someone who is not attending full-time education
  • Apprenticeships are available in a whole host of professions 
  • They usually last between one and five years, depending on age and skill level
  • They are a mix of practical training with classroom-based study that results in an industry-recognised qualification.

Where can you find apprentices or apprentice programs?

The team at Rhino Trade Insurance work hard to offer insurance that covers almost every trade, and from speaking to these professionals, we find that tradesmen and women find apprentices through family and friends. For example, when a Rhino team member recently had their boiler changed, the tradesman brought his apprentice son. Likewise, one of our Electrician friends, Nick Bundy, trains his apprentice Adam who is a family friend. 

Should you find yourself looking for an apprentice, and there isn't anyone in your immediate family or friendship circle that ticks the box. You can explore local job boards, post to relevant Facebook groups or contact local training centres in order to find someone that fits the bill.

If you are a budding apprentice looking for a career in the trades, consider reaching out to a handful of local tradespeople to see if they would be willing to take on a new member of staff whilst you train. Often to thrive in this industry, you need to be hands-on, intuitive and proactive, so why not showcase these traits from the start? Alternatively, there are various job posting websites that will showcase what apprenticeships are available in your local area, so think about setting up a daily email notification to see what new postings there are and apply. 

Apprenticeship structure

Before hiring an apprentice or signing up for a program, it's best to understand how they are structured. Generally, employers in the UK will work with external bodies to offer the best training available for their apprentices. This will include things like testing and official qualifications. Some trade apprentices will have sorted their own training with a local college, for example, and will have to conduct off-the-job training whilst also receiving on-the-job training and support from their skilled employer. 

Apprentices will work in a specific program set out over a number of years. This is designed to ensure the apprentice receives sufficient training and is fully skilled once their program ends; with technical positions including electrics and plumbing, the apprentice, the college and the tradesperson need to be fully confident in an apprentice's ability before working on any jobs themselves. 

Your employer will lead with a structure to your training in conjunction with your training provider. An apprentice should expect the following:

  • A comprehensive training plan
  • Regular reviews
  • Practical, hands-on training
  • Time for study at college
  • Assessments and testing
  • Mentorship and support to complete the apprenticeship

Support and resources available for apprentices

Duration of apprenticeships

Once you have chosen to join an apprenticeship scheme or as an employer, you have hired a new trainee; you should (depending on which trade you work in) expect the duration to be between 12 months and four or five years. If a student excels in their line of work, then a typical electrical or plumbing apprenticeship takes four years. 

Government incentives for employers who hire apprentices

As a trade business, if you have reached a ceiling of growth, then hiring an apprentice could help you take that next step and future-proof your business. Simply put, you are investing in the future in the hope that with extra hands and talent, you can take on more work and maybe expand your team even more. 

Depending on the size of your business, you could be eligible for government grants/ funding that pay for apprentice's training. Usually, you will find between 95% and 100% of the training costs are taken care of. As a larger business, you can take advantage of the apprenticeship levy to ensure the costs of training are taken care of. 

What else should I know?

Earnings and job prospects for apprentices

When hiring an apprentice, they should typically work 30 hours a week to gain a solid understanding of the job they are learning. The rest of the time (1 day) should be spent at college learning the theoretical side of the job. 

The national minimum wage in the UK for an apprentice starts at £4.81 an hour (which can be subject to change depending on government policy). This hourly rate can rise during your apprenticeship and may be higher depending on age. 

More often than not, once an apprentice is well underway with their training, a good tradesperson or company may pay higher than the minimum due to the fact you're providing a skilled job. An apprentice can also expect certain benefits depending on employers, which include tools, a Christmas bonus and the occasional Mcdonald's breakfast. After you are qualified, depending on your profession, you can expect to earn far higher than the national average. Find out how much you can earn by reading our post here

Why choose Rhino Trade Insurance?

As a trade business, before hiring any staff, ensure you are fully insured for any outcome. Find out how Rhino Trade Insurance can cover your business today. We offer protection such as Public Liability, Employers' Liability, Tool Cover and more. 

Need assistance with your policy? Our website has stacks of information to help you find the right cover needed - it also takes less than a minute to get a quote due to our amazing insurance calculator. Fancy ringing a human being? Call our team on 0116 243 7904. 


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