Upskilling existing staff using an apprenticeship approach

Following changes to the apprenticeship funding arrangements and to the range of professional apprenticeships available, employers can now utilise central funds for the significant upskilling of existing staff.

Many professional qualifications are now available as an apprenticeship standard, rather than simply as a standalone course. And, as central funds can be now be accessed to cover the related costs, professional apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly attractive method for organisations to upskill and qualify their existing staff, helping them to progress. 

Upskilling apprenticeships are available in an increasingly wide range of professions, including: CIPD levels for HR staff; Finance, Accounting, Procurement and Legal; Leadership and Management; Digital and many more. 

However, an apprenticeship is not simply a direct replacement for a qualification course. There will be additional requirements as part of the apprenticeship, such as building a portfolio of evidence to meet the standard’s criteria, and completing the end-point assessment. The apprenticeship will also take longer to complete than a standalone course.

Criteria for undertaking an upskilling Apprenticeship

The main criteria are that an apprentice must:

  • be employed in an existing job requiring substantive new skills
  • be working towards achieving an approved apprenticeship standard or framework – apprenticeship levy funds cannot be used to pay for course fees for a standalone qualification
  • be in training that lasts for at least 12 months, depending on the standard
  • spend at least 20% of their working hours on off-the-job training over the planned duration of the apprenticeship

Off-the-job training must be directly relevant to the apprenticeship framework or standard, i.e. teaching new knowledge, skills and behaviours required to reach competence in the particular occupation. It can include training that is delivered at the apprentice’s normal place of work, such as:

    1. the teaching of theory (for example, lectures, role playing, simulation exercises, online learning)
    2. practical training, shadowing, mentoring, industry visits
    3. learning support and time spent writing assignments

Browse current apprenticeship standards

The Institute of Apprenticeships provides a list of current apprenticeship standards on their website.

How to get started

Once the appropriate Apprenticeship standard has been identified, the next stage is to contact training providers to find out more about eligibility and process. 

Contact us

If you have any questions about employing an apprentice that are not answered on these pages, get in touch with us at

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