Apprenticeships Explained

Trailblazer Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are work based training programmes which combine on the job training, formal learning and paid employment.

Trailblazers are employer led groups who come together to develop industry standards for their sector. These standards ensure an apprenticeship will receive more than just training for a single job or employer; they must ensure that apprentices can adapt to a variety of roles, with different employers, and develop the ability to progress their careers.

All employer-led apprenticeship standards must therefore demonstrate acquisition of transferable skills – such as self-management, communication and interpersonal skills, problem solving, innovation and creativity.

The employer led Trailblazer group also identify the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSB) an apprentice should develop through their apprenticeship programme. This information is presented in a standard. The Trailblazer group of employers decide how they want the apprenticeship assessed. They present this information in an assessment plan. It is expected that apprentices are only assessed on their abilities after a significant period of learning and training has taken place. This means that the assessment where an apprentice demonstrates their capability to perform their occupational role to a consistent national standard comes towards the end of the full apprenticeship programme. This process is referred to as the EPA.

The Register of Apprenticeship Training Provider (RoATP)

Any organisation that intends to deliver apprenticeship training must apply to be listed on the RoATP available to check here.

Organisations not listed on the RoATP will not be able to access ESFA levy funding to deliver Apprenticeship training. For training providers, this will apply whether their contract is with a levied employer or a non-levied employer.

A training provider’s role in delivering an apprenticeship is providing off-the-job knowledge-based learning. The majority of an apprentice’s experience will be on-the-job learning and mentoring.  A training provider will also need to support the employer in practical work-based learning to prepare apprentices for EPA.

Who is eligible for an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are suitable for:

  • Anyone over the age of 16, who has the right to work in England and is employed for a minimum of 30 hours a week.
  • Individuals who are ambitious and interested in a career of composites.
  • School leavers.
  • Graduates: Individuals who already hold a degree may be eligible for government apprenticeship funding, provided there is an opportunity to acquire new knowledge, skills and behaviours.
  • New and existing employees/staff members. Employers can offer apprenticeships to existing staff who want to improve their skill set and increase their contribution to the organisation, whilst gaining a nationally recognised qualification.

Apprenticeship Levy 

Employers from all sectors having a pay bill of more than £3 million each year will need to pay the apprenticeship levy charged at a rate of 0.5% of their annual pay bill. Employers will have a levy allowance of £15,000 per year to offset against the levy they must pay. This means employers will only pay the levy if their pay bill exceeds £3 million in a given year.
Further details on how the funding system levy works can be found here.


The funding bands that apply to approved apprenticeship standards are available here.

These bands reflect an upper limit on the amount of funding the government will provide. The cost of training will have to be negotiated by employers with training providers.

Employers wishing to hold a direct contract with Government in order to draw down funding, please see the Skills Funding Agency’s funding rules here
Further details on how the funding system works can be found here.


There is no mandatory requirement for qualifications within Trailblazer Apprenticeships unless specifically required (e.g. for a licence to practice). Trailblazer Groups, if they so wish, can build mandatory qualifications into the apprenticeship standard or include recommended qualifications in the assessment plan.

Where qualifications are not included in the apprenticeship standard, employers and/or training providers can build qualifications into their apprenticeship programme at an extra cost or develop a programme that does not include qualifications.


Continuous assessment is needed to track apprentices’ progress, gather feedback and offer employers and training providers a clear perspective of apprentices’ readiness for the EPA. The continuous assessment may be through a one-to-one monitoring progress or as a formal qualification that precedes the EPA.

The training provider is primarily responsible for the quality assurance of the delivery of the on-programme element but employers, in some circumstances, may be able to carry out all or part of this function.

EPA Methods

Each Apprenticeship Standard contains details of the method of EPA that the apprentice will need to complete such as:

  • externally marked examinations
  • externally marked knowledge test assessments
  • knowledge and understanding tasks
  • oral assessments
  • practical tasks
  • presentations/viva
  • showcase portfolio
  • work-based tasks/projects
  • workplace observations

Apprenticeship Documentation

The Institute for Apprenticeships are responsible for several documents that support the delivery and assessment of apprenticeships, which were produced by Trailblazer Groups, and define what is required by apprentice for their apprenticeship in their chosen sector/job role:

Apprenticeship Standard – set the key requirements for the apprenticeship including required skills, knowledge and behaviours required. Apprenticeship Standards also capture the minimum duration of the apprenticeship and any required qualifications.

Assessment Plan – detail the requirements for EPA including:

  • what is required for EPA
  • what will be assessed
  • how it will be assessed
  • how the overall apprenticeship will be graded
  • who will carry out the EPA

The assessment plan will also include details of any qualifications (the on-programme element) that are required to be completed prior to the EPA, either prior to starting or during the apprenticeship.  Once an assessment plan is approved it will be published online and the apprenticeship will be marked as ‘approved for delivery’.