- Apprentices can be anyone over the age of 16 and not in full time education.
- Apprenticeships can be for school leavers or those who are seeking to start a new career.
- Many of the special protections for young workers in the working time regulations will apply to apprentices.
Apprenticeships are work-based training programmes which will lead to a nationally recognised qualification. Apprentices will normally attend day release at local colleges or specialist training providers as part of their training, which can take between one to four years to complete, depending on the level of apprenticeship.
As employees apprentices would normally be expected to work for at least 30 hours per week, for which employers can receive funding from the National Apprentice Service, however, funding will depend on the sector and the age of the apprentice.
Apprentices and the National Minimum Wage (NMW)
Apprentices under 19 years or 19 years and over and in the first year of their apprenticeship are entitled to £2.68 per hour until October 2014 when the rate will increase to £2.73 per hour. However, the employer may choose to pay the apprentice at a higher rate.
Once the apprentice reaches 19 years and has completed the first year of the apprenticeship the employer must pay the full NMW rate.
All other apprentices are eligible for the full National Minimum Wage for their age.
Apprentices and the working time regulations for young people
Many of the special protections in these regulations for young workers under 18 will apply to apprentices, for example young workers must not exceed the 8 hour a day or 40 hours per week. They are also entitled to paid holidays and rest breaks of at least 30 minutes if their shift lasts more than four and half hours.
The 3 levels of apprenticeship
- Intermediate Level Apprenticeships - apprentices work towards work-based learning qualifications such as a Level 2 Competence Qualification, Functional Skills and, in most cases, a relevant knowledge-based qualification.
- Advanced Level Apprenticeships - apprentices work towards work-based learning such as a Level 3 Competence Qualification, Functional Skills and, in most cases, a relevant knowledge-based qualification.
- Higher Apprenticeships - apprentices undertake a framework at Level 4 and above which will include a competence based qualification, Functional Skills and in some cases a broader vocationally related qualification which could be a Foundation degree.