UCL Human Resources


Apprenticeship FAQs for Managers

Answers to your frequently asked questions


What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a paid job which gives the learner (an apprentice) practical work experience and the opportunity to train in a particular occupation, whilst gaining valuable skills and qualifications to enable them to become proficient in their chosen occupation.

What are apprenticeship standards?

Apprenticeship standards outline the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) required to carry out a certain job role. They are employer-led, meaning that employers can specify exactly what's required from an apprentice in each specific role.  Please visit the Institute for Apprenticeships website to view a list of current apprenticeship standards.

What kinds of levels are there?

The different levels of apprenticeships are outlined below:

Intermediate: entry-level with no experience

  • Level 2
  • 12-18 months
  • Equivalent to 5 GCSE A*-C  or 9 - 4

Advanced: for those with some experience, looking to specialise Level 3

  • 18-48 months
  • Equivalent to 2 A-Levels

Higher (and degree): mainly suited for up-skilling existing employees

  • Levels 4, 5, 6 and 7
  • 24 months+
  • Equivalent to Foundation degree and above

An apprenticeship can take between one to four years to complete. The duration will depend on factors such as the level of the programme and type of standard, as well as the apprentice’s ability and previous experience. 

What kind of support is available to the apprentice?

Here are some examples of ongoing support and guidance throughout the apprenticeship journey:

  • Expectations of the host department, work plans and details of the scheduled training must be clearly set out as part of the induction, and must also be documented as part of the Apprenticeship Agreement and Training Plan.
  • You will also meet with your apprentice regularly to discuss their work and development needs, as well as to set and review their key milestones and goals.
  • A departmental mentor and/or buddy (either another apprentice or former apprentice) should be assigned to support the Early Career apprentice through their apprenticeship.
  • Your HRBP will support you with any employment related matters. Organisational Development will provide additional guidance and support for you and your apprentice every step of the way.

  • Through the training provider, which provides the off-the-job training, apprentices will be assigned a development coach and provide pastoral care to help them thrive in their apprenticeship.

Recruitment, selection and onboarding 

How do I build a case for employing an apprentice?

There are many benefits that apprentices can bring to your department/faculty/area. We are developing resources which will help you put forward a business case, but for advice and guidance in the meantime, please contact us and also speak to your HRBP regarding your workforce planning needs.

Early career apprenticeships are real vacancies and should be included in your workforce planning. They allow us to grow our own talent. Department Managers should take an apprenticeship first approach with any vacancies and consider where roles could be offered as an apprenticeship at any levels. The Apprenticeship Managers are happy to discuss this with you further. 

Do Early-Career (new/entry-level) apprentices need a lot of support?

Our early career apprentices are often new to the world of work with little or no prior work experience. So while additional understanding, patience and support may be needed initially, and it may be challenging at times, it is likely to decrease as their skills, competence and confidence grow. 

The line-manager has a crucial role in helping to shape and support their career pathway and future. An existing member of staff wishing to gain experience as part of their development, could offer to provide supervision or mentoring support, where appropriate.

The whole team has a role to play in supporting the apprentice and engaging in the apprenticeship journey. This ensures that the apprentice is fully integrated into the team and also allows the team to learn from the apprentice. 

There are huge benefits to be reaped in adopting this approach; the majority of hiring managers often ask about keeping on and progressing their apprentice after they have completed the apprenticeship programme. 

What are the main steps to taking on an apprentice? 

Here is an outline of the main steps:


1. Approval.   
2. Choose an apprenticeships framework or standard for an apprenticeship. 
3. See if UCL has procured a Training Provider organisation that offers training for the apprenticeship standard you’ve chosen - if not a procurement exercise will be necessary. 
4. Check what funding is available. 


Advertise your apprenticeship (via UCL Jobs Portal and National Apprenticeship Service).

5. Select your apprentice and make an apprenticeship agreement and commitment statement with them.

Once appointed:

  • Initial assessments and induction by both the UCL (Organisational Development Team and departmental level) and the training provider - individual learning plans
  • On-the-job training and assessments, which may include formal and informal training
  • Mentoring by colleagues, including witness testimonials
  • Off-the-job training and assessment, which includes the teaching of theory, key skills and sometimes practical training, with assessment and preparation for external testing
  • Set reviews of each apprentice’s progress and targets and issue increments as they meet they and successfully progress in the programme.


What type of employment contract do apprentices need?

All apprentices must have a contract of employment that is long enough for them to complete the apprenticeship programme and is a minimum of 12 months. Importantly, they must also be in a role that provides them with the opportunity to gain the skills, knowledge, and behaviours needed to complete their apprenticeship.

The Apprenticeship funding rules and UCL’s policies contain detailed information on employing apprentices. Essentially:

  • Apprentices are offered the same conditions as other employees 
  • Spends 20% off-the-job training
  • Employment is offered on a fixed-term basis (for early career staff). 
  • They are entitled to the same holiday/annual leave as per UCL policy and any other benefits such as childcare or paid sick leave.
  •  Their contractual hours are 36.5 hours per week.

Existing staff ‘mid-career’ apprentices will also require an apprenticeship contract and agreement, but this will not affect their existing contractual terms.

What type of contract would a prospective or soon-to-be employee already on an apprenticeship, have?

If someone is already doing an apprenticeship when they apply for a job at UCL, and the manager is willing to support it (including the 20% off the job training) they should be offered a contract on the following terms:
They should be paid the appropriate point on the Apprenticeship Programme AP scale (based on the stage of the apprenticeship), and not the rate of the job they applied for, for the duration of their apprenticeship. When they complete their apprenticeship, they will move to the job they were recruited to and paid the rate of that job.

Please contact us at apprenticeships@ucl.ac.uk at the earliest opportunity to discuss this.

How long should an apprenticeship last?

This is usually determined by the length and a minimum of 12 months (duration of the apprenticeship standard). Organisational Development will discuss this with you before recruitment.

Does becoming a mid-Career (existing staff) apprentice affect an individual’s existing salary, grade or job description? 

No, this remains unchanged. We aim to enhance career development through offering structured training. The apprenticeship itself will not affect an individual’s current salary, role or grade.

What if a staff member leaves during or after the apprenticeship?

If a staff member terminates before the successful completion of their apprenticeship, and after UCL has incurred liability for the cost of their training, they may be required to repay some or all of the fees, expenses and other costs paid by UCL which will not met by government funding, or that UCL cannot recover from the learning provider (“Costs”) associated with such training courses. 

Can job candidates who are already enrolled on an apprenticeship programme with their current employer, transfer to UCL?

At UCL, we have two pathways for staff on our apprenticeship programme: Early-career (new, entry-level roles) and Mid-Career (existing staff). Each group has its own procedures to help set the apprentice up successfully for their programme. They also ensure that we follow due procedure and UCL policy.

For exceptional cases like this, although it is possible to transfer the apprenticeship from one employer to another, a department cannot simply guarantee this. Nor can you draw from UCL’s levy without consulting with, and getting approval from, OD. At present, our recruitment system does not pick up on this at the application or job offer stage.

Enacting this kind of transfer is not straightforward, nor is it something that we can execute quickly. There are contractual implications for the new employee and the provider delivering the training.

Please alert us about the situation as soon as possible, so we can explore options with other colleagues in HR to try to reach the best possible outcome for all parties.

Do I have to employ them at the end of the apprenticeship?

The hiring of apprentices should form part of your workforce planning and retention strategies.

We encourage you to continue apprentice employment where the apprentice where appropriate, and in areas of shortage such as technical areas or where high potential has been identified.

We hire apprentices on a fixed-term basis and there is no guarantee of a job after they complete their apprenticeship programme. 

Line Managers should hold a career conversation with the apprentice 6 months before completion and discuss opportunities and secure funding for a permanent post. Apprentices can apply for permanent post 3 months before the end of the apprenticeship.

If you are not in a position to employ an apprenticeship after their programme finishes, please speak to your HRBP and Organisational Development team to manage expectations and provide support to help them progress their career in another area of UCL or beyond.


How is an apprenticeship funded? 

UCL pays 0.5% of our pay bill to an apprenticeship levy account. You can draw on these funds to provide training and assessment of the apprenticeship. This Apprenticeship Levy is managed by Organisational Development. It cannot be spent on:

  • Wages
  • Managerial (or other staffing) costs
  • Travel expenses and subsidiary costs
  • Work placement programmes
  • The cost of setting up an apprenticeship programme

The department pays an apprentice’s salary and other associated costs so you must have the approval, including financial, to recruit. 

To request more information about the procurement (training provider) and recruitment processes, please contact the OD Apprenticeship Programme leads Uzma Sadiq or Paula Sandamas. 

What is their wage?

For early-career apprentices:

  • UCL offers a generous, sector-leading salary; apprentices also receive the agreed annual cost-of-living increase. 
  • We use a unique pay scale for Early Career Apprentices which can be found here. These rates apply from 1 August each year.
  • Early Career apprentices do not automatically get a pay increase like other staff; manager’s assessment and appraisal of the apprentices’ progress effect and determine the pay increase for early career staff. Increases (increments) based on apprentices’ performance against set milestones on an annual basis, throughout the apprenticeship programme.

For mid-career apprenticeships (for existing staff):

  • Existing staff remain on their current salary and contractual terms during and after the apprenticeship. The apprenticeship programme is designed to enhance career development by offering structured training concerning an occupation, but the apprenticeship itself will not affect an individual’s current role or grade.
What is the eligibility criteria for apprenticeship development levy funding?

In addition to any requirements outlined in the UCL job description, or person specification for the apprenticeship role, individuals must also satisfy the following criteria:

  • Employment at UCL for a minimum of 30 hours per week
  • Over 16 years old
  • Have a contract of employment for a minimum of 12 months
  • Are not in full-time education
  • Have been a UK or EEA resident for three years before the start of their Apprenticeship
  • The apprenticeship can be higher or lower to a qualification an individual (apprentice) already holds, permitting it allows them to gain substantive new skills
Is there any financial help for apprentices needing additional support?

Additional payments may be available to support younger ‘early career’ apprentices. For example, young care leavers and young adults up to 25 who have an education, health and care plan (EHC). Additional funding is also available to enable apprentices to gain Functional Skills in English and Maths (Level 2 or an agreed level) and individuals who have a disability or long-term health condition.

Do staff supervising apprentices under the age of 18 need to have DBS check?

See Safety Service Guidance for more information

Do I need to treat my apprentice differently if they are under 18 years of age?

To an extent. There are specific policies to adhere to for staff under 18 including not exceeding a 12 hour day or 40 hours per week, rest breaks of 30 minutes if their shift exceeds 4.5 hours, besides 12-hour breaks between shifts.

Training and assessment

How will it be delivered?

As part of the programme, the apprentice must undertake a minimum of 20% off-the-job training. 

The delivery of a programme will vary according to the apprenticeship standard and training provider. This will be agreed at the procurement phase and can be adapted to ensure that it is fit for UCL’s needs. Typically delivered through tutors and skills coaches, and a blend of face-to-face and online support besides practical assessments and theoretical learning. Apprentices will have designated days or blocked time away from the office, for example.

Line managers will also play a pivotal part in supporting them to complete challenging work-related projects and tasks, as well as to take time out to learn and study.

What is off-the-job training and what does it look like?

Essentially, these are activities are within the apprentices’ role, is away from their day-to-day job and the apprentice gets to learn and practice their skills, knowledge and behaviours needed to complete the programme.

Training is delivered flexibly to suit the needs of UCL, the apprentice and training provider, and is geared to minimise disruption and maximize institutional impact. The time spent on off-the-job training should be at least 20% (approximately one day a week) and is part of the working hours. 

Examples include: 

Training Provider: Virtual tutorials, practical (college-based) workshops.

Delivered at the place of work: mentoring, work shadowing or practical training in different departments, attending courses, lectures or workshops off-site as long as the training is directly relevant to the apprenticeship standard. 

Activities which are part of the apprentice’s day-to-day job do not count towards off-the-job training such as assessment time, or 121 meetings between you and the apprentice. 

What is the End Point Assessment? 

The end-point assessment enables apprentices to show that they are acquainted in the skills, knowledge, and behaviours expected at this level and type of apprenticeship they are working towards. Successfully passing the endpoint assessment will lead to the award of the Apprenticeship Standard.

As the manager you will agree with the training provider and the apprentice at gateway if the apprentice is ready to be assessed by the End Point Assessment Organisation. Once the End Point Assessment has started, the apprentice will have a fixed period to complete the assessment. This is based on the apprenticeship standard they are working towards.