Recruiting an apprentice
Once you have decided that an apprentice is the right choice for your team, your next step is to follow the recruitment process.
Stages of the recruitment process:
- Request to fill
- Funding the apprenticeship
- Finding a training provider
- Recruitment and interviews
- Appointing an apprentice
- Arranging levy payments to the Training Provider
Request to fill
Funding the apprenticeship
If you are recruiting a brand new apprentice, you will need to make sure you have the appropriate funding available to meet the salary costs of employing an apprentice.
The Apprenticeship levy can only be used to pay for the training and assessment costs, not for other costs associated with our apprentices, such as salary, travel etc. Read more about how the Apprenticeship levy fund can be used.
Funding for apprentices with prior qualifications
As described in the Department of Education Guidance 2018, employers can use funds to train any eligible individual to undertake an apprenticeship at a higher, equal or lower level than a qualification they already hold (including a previous apprenticeship) where it allows the individual to gain substantive new skills and the content of the training is materially different from any prior training or a previous apprenticeship, i.e. not in the same subject.
Finding a training provider
The next stage is to find a training provider for the apprenticeship. The University have agreed providers for a range of disciplines, as detailed in the table below.
Weston College is the main preferred training provider for apprenticeships at the University, but the following providers have been agreed for specific disciplines:
|Discipline||Preferred training provider details|
|Business Administration (and related areas)||
then, City of Bristol College
|Catering and hospitality||
Hit Training Ltd
then, City of Bristol College
Although these training providers will be able to deliver most of the University’s apprenticeship needs, it is possible to use other providers, particularly for specialist apprenticeships. Any provider that we use must be on the Register of approved Apprenticeship Training Providers. The Institute for Apprenticeships provides a list of current approved apprenticeship standards and the approved training providers for each standard.
Recruitment and interviews
Contact your chosen Training Provider to discuss your requirements. They will help you decide the suitability of an apprenticeship for your needs. The training provider can give you details about the apprenticeship structure. You may want to check whether it is day release or distance learning.
When you have decided on an apprenticeship, let the provider know. They will send you a template to complete with details of your vacancy. Ask your local HR team to review this before returning it to the provider. Make sure you keep in touch with your HR team throughout the recruitment process.
All apprenticeship vacancies are advertised on the National Apprenticeship Service website. The provider will also advertise the vacancy on their own website and will often circulate it around relevant partners. The provider will let you know the closing date.
Shortlisting and interviews
After the closing date the training provider will collate applications. They might also do an initial sift or hold telephone interviews before providing a shortlist.
To some of our apprenticeship candidates we may be quite a daunting organisation. Some may have very little interview experience. They may have preconceptions of universities based on whether they have ever considered studying in higher education. The size of the organisation might be overwhelming for them.
Make the interview process as welcoming and positive as possible to help candidates show their potential. You are often interviewing to gauge potential rather than asking about previous work experience. Choosing questions that focus on past experience, e.g. ‘tell us about a time you dealt with….’, might not be appropriate. Candidates are often drawing from experience of school, college, hobbies, or from a part time job. Expect answers at an appropriate level for someone with more limited experience and remember that this is a training role. We have put together some suggested interview questions for apprenticeships.
Arrange a tour for each candidate and give plenty of opportunity for them to see if they want to work for the University too.
Consider setting up a simple, work-related task to gauge potential of candidates. In recruitment of laboratory technician apprentices, we use a supported task as a skills test. A member of staff is present to interact with the candidates - it is not under 'exam' conditions. Candidates can ask questions if they are unsure about the task. This shows whether they use their initiative and are assertive enough to ask when they need clarification.
Tours and tasks help you see how candidates communicate in less formal settings. Candidates meet more members of staff, and have an opportunity to ask questions and find out more about the role and the setting.
Colleagues who conduct tours and oversee exercices can be included in the debrief and help the panel select the best candidate.
Appointing an apprentice
When the successful candidate has accepted the offer, make sure you:
- Notify HR so they can check references and complete the recruitment processes
- Notify the training provider so they can begin their sign up process
In addition to the contract and the terms and conditions, there are two specific documents that are required when employing apprentices.
The Apprenticeship Agreement
This should be in place at the start of the apprenticeship. The agreement confirms the individual employment arrangements between you and your apprentice. Both parties must sign the agreement.
The Commitment Statement
This sets out how you (as the employer), your training provider and your apprentice will support the successful achievement of the apprenticeship. This document will be provided by the training provider and a copy will be required for our records.
Arranging levy payments to the Training Provider
Payments to the training provider will be arranged through the university’s account on the gov.uk apprenticeship management service and access to the account is limited to a small number of named individuals.
To arrange payments please contact email@example.com and give details of the apprentice you have appointed, i.e. name, location, apprenticeship standard and level, line manager’s name and the name of the training provider - including a contact name and email address.
The paperwork is sorted and you have selected your new apprentice. Now you need to make sure everything is in place ready for your new recruit.
The Apprenticeship Levy is charged at 0.5% of the annual pay bill for organisations whose pay bill is over £3million per year. This means The University of Bristol is an apprenticeship levy paying organisation and therefore has an account on the Government’s on-line Apprenticeship Service to:
- receive levy funds to spend on apprenticeships
- manage our apprentices
- pay our training providers
- stop or pause payments to our training providers
The funds in our levy account can only be used to pay for apprenticeship training and assessment for apprentices that work at least 50% of the time in England, and only up to the funding band maximum for that apprenticeship.
The levy funds in our account can't be used to pay for other costs associated with our apprentices - such as wages, statutory licences to practise, travel and subsidiary costs, work placement programmes, or the setting up of an apprenticeship programme.
The Institute of Apprenticeships provides a list of current apprenticeship standards on their website.
Some interview questions you may want to consider using when recruiting an Apprentice
If you have any questions about employing an apprentice that are not answered on these pages, get in touch with us at