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An overview of Apprenticeships programmes in the UK

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An overview of Apprenticeships programmes in the United Kingdom

In December, the government voted a £1.4bn skills training scheme in order to lower the rate of youth unemployment.

Apprenticeships are work-based training programmes which lead to nationally-recognised qualifications. Most of the training is ‘on the job’. The rest can be provided by a local college or by a learning provider.

Apprentices are incorporated in what is called a framework that offers a range of qualifications as they progress. This framework is based on competence, technique and skills to give them the most relevant skills required for the job they are employed in.

Apprentices are assessed in and off the work place.

Depending on the sector and types of jobs, apprenticeships take from one to four years to complete. It is a package of on-the-job training and school-based qualifications. Employment must be for at least 30 hours per week. Depending on the type of job being done, or training undertaken, off-the-job time could be one or two days a week or every other week or any other arrangement made between the company and the training centre.

The National Minimum Wage for apprentices aged 16-18 is £2.60 per hour and applies to both time spent working and time spent training. Apprentices aged 19 and over will receive a minimum of £2.60 per hour in their first year and then receive the full National Minimum Wage appropriate to their age (18-20 yearolds: £4.98 - over-21s: £6.08) Apprentices are also entitled to paid maternity leave and to at least 20 days’ paid holiday per year as well as bank holidays.

To that wage, employers must add the cost of supervision, support and mentoring devoted to an apprentice. However, the National Apprenticeship Service covers 100% of the training costs for the 16-18 age group, reduced to 50% for the 19-24 age group.

The NAS also supports employers by recruiting and training candidates as well as getting them in touch with learning providers and advising them on available programmes and apprenticeship vacancies. It also provides £1,500 grants to small and mediumsized businesses recruiting 16-24-year-olds in order to encourage new employers to take on apprentices. Those grants are paid in two instalments, one at the end of the 8th week and one at the end of the 12th month. If apprentices leave or are dismissed before the completion of the year of apprenticeship, part of the grant will have to be repaid unless the firm recruits another apprentice within the next 4 weeks.

Meetingplace, February 2, 2012

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