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Information for employers

Apprenticeships are a job with training; in other words, they combine working with studying. Apprenticeships provide and assess the knowledge, skills and behaviours that apprentices need within a specific job role.

Hiring an apprentice is a productive and effective way to grow talent and develop a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce.


Apprenticeships unlock the potential of your people. They are a way to grow-your-own talent, developing your workforce to meet the future needs of your organisation.

Learn how apprenticeships can energise your organisation, delivering new skills and expertise to future-proof your workforce.

Skills shortage
by equipping your staff with in-demand expertise that can be costly to hire in
Recruitment and retention problems
by allowing organisations to attract new talent, as well as upskill and promote from within
Succession planning
by creating future leaders from your current staff
Diversity challenges
by widening participation through more flexible learning

In the following video, an employer who works with The Open University talks about the benefits for their organisation.

Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust

You should also consider apprenticeships if your organisation needs to:

  • Support workforce transformation through leadership skills and knowledge sharing.
  • Improve productivity in the workplace.
  • Developing managers to become better leaders.
  • Recruit and retain top talent by providing a clear development pathway.

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In the UK, employers are responsible for paying their apprentices' salaries, but training costs can be funded through the Apprenticeship Levy or Government funding. The funding method for an apprenticeship is determined at the start of each apprentice’s programme.

The Levy requires organisations with a pay bill of more than £3m to pay 0.5% of that bill to support apprenticeships. However, any employer can access funding for an apprentice, whether they pay the Levy or not.

There are different funding schemes across the UK nations. Each UK nation manages its own apprenticeship programmes, including how funding is spent on apprenticeship training. More information, including links to the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish apprenticeship systems, can be found on the UK Government apprenticeship funding website.


Levy-paying employers in England can use funds in their Apprenticeship Service Account to fund apprenticeship training costs, and they will also receive a 10% Government top-up into this account.
For non-levy paying employers, the Government will fund 95% of the cost of training an apprentice, with a 5% contribution from the employer. If you employ fewer than 50 people (including the apprentice), that increases to 100% funding for apprentices aged 16-18 or aged 19-24 with an education and healthcare need. Find out more on England’s Apprenticeship website.

If you have staff in England, use The Open University's apprenticeship levy calculator for an indication of the amount of funded degree apprenticeships you could run in your organisation, based on the funding you'll receive from your first-year apprenticeship levy payments. Just fill in the details and press submit.

To find out the costs of The Open University degree and higher apprenticeship programmes, to develop new and existing staff, and more about our unique offer, contact us.

Further information on the apprenticeship levy in England can be found on the Education and Skills Funding Agency website, including information for non-levy payers on co-investment.

Note: Please use numbers only in the calculator.

Disclaimer: This tool is for illustration purposes only. The actual amount of levy you will pay and the actual number of degree apprentices you will be able to fund may vary. For example, this tool may underestimate or overestimate the number of apprentices depending on the actual cost of the Degree Apprenticeship. The Open University is not responsible for the consequences of any decisions or actions taken in reliance on the information provided by this tool.


In Wales, employers are responsible for paying their apprentice’s salary, but training costs (tuition fees) are funded by the Welsh Government. There are some financial incentives available to encourage employing apprentices, depending on the needs of the workforce at the time. For more information visit the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW).


In Scotland, employers are responsible for paying their apprentice’s salary but training costs (tuition fees) are funded by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) applied through the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). For more information visit the Graduate Apprenticeships - Funding - SAAS.

Apprentices, not employers, need to apply to the SAAS for funding to pay the tuition fees for their graduate apprenticeship programme.

Visit the Skills Development Scotland website for employer information about SAAS (June 2021).

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Apprenticeships are delivered in partnership between the OU and your organisation.

Whether you have dozens of apprentices or are considering taking your first one, there are a number of ways you can make sure your apprentice is supported during their apprenticeship programme.

Equally, The Open University will support your apprentices in many ways through excellent teaching, an effective support network and regular monitoring of progress as well as targeted intervention where necessary. We also provide a Welsh-speaking practice tutor for Welsh-speaking learners.

The below gives you an overview of what you as an employer will need to do to help your apprentices succeed.

Recruiting an apprentice

Job Description

When recruiting an apprentice, you are recruiting an employee for a real role so follow your organisation’s recruiting process. Just bear in mind that many of the applicants may have little previous experience when you consider:

  • Pre-requisites for entry. Be realistic about what a candidate needs for them to learn how to do the job you’ve created – in some cases they may not need any prior experience.
  • Language. Ask yourself whether someone new to the world of work will understand the terminology included in your job description.
  • Description. Don't assume that someone will already know what your department does. Try to explain it clearly.

Job Advert

When creating the job advert, make it attractive and accessible, for example, avoiding ‘jargon’, and appealing to career ambitions. The Open University will arrange for your job advert to be posted on RecruitAnApprentice.


When recruiting an apprentice, The Open University will work closely with you. The level of involvement by The Open University will vary depending on the programme and your requirements.


Traditional interviewing is not the only advisable selection method for apprenticeship recruitment and you may look into other options such as aptitude testing. If you do host an interview, think carefully about the questions you'll ask. Many applicants will be young people who haven't had much work experience so you will be looking for potential rather than experience. Consider asking them questions that assess their learning agility and mindset.

Supporting their studies

Your role is to support your apprentice by ensuring they have supportive line management, the time they need to complete their learning and helping them gain exposure to relevant areas for their apprenticeship. It's a good idea to talk about their progress during your regular one-to-one meetings so you can provide any support they might need.

You might also consider finding a mentor for your apprentice within your organisation.

Mentoring Matters

Computer chips

To help both line managers and mentors in their roles, the OU offers “Mentoring Matters”, a free online course.

Access to relevant opportunities

You can ask your apprentice to share their study calendar so you can plan their work more easily. If there are elements of the programme which are difficult to get exposure to in your unit, they might be able to do it in a different unit within your organisation.

Start discussions with the relevant people in your organisation in time to ensure that your apprentice will have the opportunity to develop all the relevant skills and behaviours.

20% off-the-job training / 20% protected time (Scotland)

An apprenticeship is a job with a formal programme of training. Employers will need to allow at least 20% of an apprentice’s working time to be allocated for what is called 'off-the-job training' in England and 'protected time' in Scotland. This is time for the apprentice to engage in the learning with the OU.

This indicative 1 day per week can be flexed around the needs of the business i.e. it can be negotiated at a local level between the individual and their line manager how this might best be facilitated whether across a couple of ½ days, a set number of hours per day, and can change week-to-week if required and if it fits around the learning timetable. It is important to think upfront about what the best pattern for your organisation and your apprentices is in order to enable apprentices to perform in their role successfully with minimal impact on your operational needs.

Additional information can be found on the apprenticeships webpage.

Progress of studies

Alongside regular progress reports, you will also have regular progress review meetings with your apprentice’s practice tutor. These meetings are important review points that give you a chance to hear more about how your apprentice is progressing and to plan the support or arrange for the opportunities the apprentice will need in the next months. You will also be able to ask the OU any questions you may have.

You will also be required to contribute to regular progress reviews throughout the duration of the apprenticeship.

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Find out more about how The Open University supports apprentices and employers by clicking the buttons below.

Support from you as an organisation is crucial for your apprentice to succeed.

Education & Skills Funding Agency European Union - European Social Fund Apprenticeships

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