Setting up an apprenticeship

Read our step-by-step guide to find out how the process works and what you need to do.

Step 1 – choose an apprenticeship

First, find an apprenticeship that meets the skills gaps and business needs of your organisation.

The University of Leeds offers higher and degree apprenticeships at different levels:

  • Level 5 – programmes are equal to (and may contain) a foundation degree, higher national diploma or industry specific qualification.
  • Level 6 – this level of apprenticeship is equivalent to a full bachelor’s degree.
  • Level 7 – the highest apprenticeship level the University offers and the equivalent of postgraduate study.

On some apprenticeship programmes, apprentices will be required to complete a qualification before being able to sit their final assessment.

If you are interested in offering apprenticeship opportunities to your staff not listed, please email the Apprenticeships team at to find out if we can develop and offer a new apprenticeship.

You can also use the Institute of Apprenticeships website to find other apprenticeships and training providers.

Step 2 - fund your apprenticeship

There are a few ways to fund your apprenticeship. The method you choose depends on the size of your annual wage bill.

The Apprenticeship Service arranges all apprenticeship training, including funding, managing your training providers and recruiting apprentices. You will need to set up an Apprenticeship Service account before you get started.

You should also read the Government’s Apprenticeship Funding Rules (go to the latest set of rules, and view the PDF for employers).


The costs associated with taking on apprentices are no different to costs with any of your other staff, such as salary, maternity and paternity pay and additional training.

You will need to pay your apprentice’s salary in the same way as other employees in the organisation. The apprentice may be eligible for a slightly lower rate of pay than National Minimum Wage, depending on their age and circumstances, but you should check this prior to taking on an apprentice, as your organisation would be liable for any underpayments.

Apprentices pay National Insurance and tax based on their salary or income in the same way as other employees.

How to fund your apprenticeship if your wage bill is over £3 million

You can use the Apprenticeship Levy, a mandatory government tax for all employers with an annual wage bill over £3 million. The amount you can spend is calculated at a rate of 0.5% of anything that goes over the above threshold plus a 10% top up from the government.

The following example shows how much funding an organisation with a £7 million annual wage bill would get be able to spend.

  • £7,000,000 (annual pay bill) – £3,000,000 (pay bill threshold) = £4,000,000
  • Annual Levy Tax Bill is applied: 0.5% of £4,000,000 = £20,000
  • Government 10% Top Up is added: £20,000 + £2,000 = £22,000
  • Total available amount to spend on apprenticeship training: £22,000

Any payments from your apprenticeship service account use the oldest levy funds first. If you do not use your funds within 24 months of them entering your levy account, they will expire.

How to fund your apprenticeship if your wage bill is under £3 million

If your wage bill is less than £3million, the funding you are most likely to use is Co-Investment funding. This will require you to fund 5% of the total apprenticeship cost and the Government will pay the other 95%.

If you are using the Co-Investment funding, you will need to reserve the apprenticeship funds with the Government. You will do this through the Apprenticeship Service.

You could also be eligible for additional funding and support depending on your apprentice’s circumstances or if you are a small employer employing fewer than 50 employees. They include:

If you would like further information on funding and incentives, please email the Apprenticeships team at

Step 3 – recruit an apprentice

You will need to find somebody to undertake the apprenticeship. This could be:

  • an existing member of staff
  • a new member of staff that you will need to recruit.

The University will work with you to make sure:

  • they are eligible
  • the programme meets their capabilities (via an Initial Needs Assessment).

You can employ as many apprentices as you like but if you are using Co-Investment funding you will need to reserve the required funds and gain approval through the apprenticeship service prior to starting an apprenticeship programme.


Apprentices must meet the eligibility rules laid out in the Government’s Apprenticeship Funding Rules (go to the latest set of rules, and view the PDF for employers and check the eligibility section for details). This includes individuals having a valid and eligible residency status.

Apprenticeships are available to anyone of any age who has finished compulsory education. If they don’t have a GCSE Maths and English at Grade C/4 or above they will need to achieve Functional Skills during the apprenticeship (see the how apprenticeships work page for details).

If you are unsure if an individual would be eligible after reading through the rules, please email the Apprenticeships team at

Initial needs assessment

Every apprenticeship is tailored around the individual. Our team will complete an initial needs assessment with every potential apprentice to understand their previous experience and qualifications. This allows us to determine a suitable starting point and make sure each apprentice receives training that is useful to them, enabling them to gain new skills and knowledge. Those with significant experience may be able to obtain Recognised Prior Learning, which may reduce the duration and cost of the apprenticeship.

Step 4 – enrol your apprentice

As the employer, you will need to sign paperwork, which the University will prepare for you. This includes:

  • an Apprenticeship Contract with the University. This is different to the apprentice’s contract of employment and will detail the funding arrangements and other information
  • a commitment statement – this must be signed by the employer, apprentice and training provider. It outlines the duration and content of the apprenticeship and expectations and requirements of all parties. This needs to be completed before the start of the training programme.

Also, as the employer, you will need to create an apprenticeship agreement with your apprentice. This document will accompany the commitment statement and will detail the required ‘off the job’ hours and duration of the apprenticeship. The Government have developed an apprenticeship agreement template for employers to use.

Visit the how apprenticeships work page for information about the structure and delivery of apprenticeships and the support available from the University.

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