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The structure and delivery of Apprenticeships in the UK


Apprentices, who are normally recruited from school leavers, are employees of the company which take them on. Telecoms and ICT apprenticeships typically last between 12 and 24 months.

Apprenticeships include several elements delivered using a combination of on-the-job training and, typically, classroom-based training attended on a day-release basis. An apprenticeship must follow certain procedures and deliver specified outcomes as itemised in either a framework or standard. Frameworks are currently being replaced by standards which are developed by groups of employers from the relevant industry sector.



Apprenticeship levels
Delivering an apprenticeship
Apprenticeship funding
Frameworks and standards





Apprenticeship levels

Apprenticeships are provided at various levels to suit the educational background of the intended recruits. The equivalent educational levels attained by those who successfully complete an apprenticeship are listed below.



Equivalent educational level

Entry level




Suitable for those with some school qualifications.



A level

Suitable for those with 5 GCSEs grades A - C including maths and English.


4,5,6 and 7

Foundation degree and above

Suitable for those with 5 GCSEs grades A - C plus 2 A’ Levels grades A - C including maths or a science subject.


6 and 7

Bachelor's or master's degree

Suitable for those with 3 A-levels grades A - C including maths or a science subject.

Some apprenticeships also deliver an additional qualification, such as a diploma.


Delivering an apprenticeship programme

An apprenticeship must be delivered by a training provider who is on the Register of apprenticeship training providers (RoATP). An employer can become a registered training provider. Others, particularly smaller companies, contract the services of a provider that delivers the programme on behalf of the employer. The training provider may also carry out additional tasks such as recruitment.
For apprenticeships that conforms to one of the new standards, an Apprentice Assessment Organisation (AAO) must also be appointed. An AAO, which must be on the Register of AAOs, assesses apprentices at the end of a programme to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to carry out their specified role.


Apprenticeship funding

Since May 2017, companies with a turnover of more than £3 million must contribute to the Apprenticeship Levy. Contributions can be offset against the cost of delivering and assessing an approved apprenticeship.
For companies that do not have to pay the Levy, there is a 90% contribution from government to the cost of training and assessment subject to a maximum amount.
For companies with less than 50 employees and who take on apprentices who are 16 to 18 years old, there is a 100% contribution subject to a maximum amount.


Frameworks and Standards

Until recently, all apprenticeships were defined in terms of Frameworks. These are documents which define the statutory requirements for an apprenticeship programme including which qualifications an apprentice should attain and the level of those qualifications. The framework is used by colleges, employers and training providers to make sure that apprenticeship programmes are delivered to a national standard. More on Frameworks >>

In an effort to make apprenticeships more focused on the needs of employers, the Department for Education is driving forward the introduction of Apprenticeship Standards. These are being developed by “Trailblazer” employer groups and approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships. As suitable standards are developed, existing frameworks will be withdrawn.
More on Standards >>