Setting up an apprenticeship

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 apprenticeship opportunities for your staff that aren’t listed, please email the Apprenticeships team at to find out if we can help you. 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.  

All funding is managed by the Government via the Apprenticeship Service​​​​​, which also arranges all apprenticeship training, managing your training providers and recruiting apprentices. You will need to set up an Apprenticeship Service account before you get started. 

A few important things to remember are: 

  • The funding will usually contribute a significant - but not the full - amount towards the costs associated with hiring an apprentice.  
  • The costs you will need to factor in are the same as for your other employees, such as salary (paid in the same way as your other employees), maternity and paternity pay and additional training.  
  • 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 first, as your organisation would be liable for any underpayments.  

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).


Apprentices must meet the eligibility criteria in the Government’s Apprenticeship Funding Rules. 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 Maths and English section on this 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 which will detail the funding arrangements. This is different to the apprentice’s contract of employment.
  • a training plan – this must be signed by the employer, apprentice and the University before the start of the training programme. It outlines the duration and content of the apprenticeship and expectations and requirements of all parties.   

You will also need to create an apprenticeship agreement with your apprentice. This document will accompany the training plan 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.

Apprenticeships structure and delivery

Your apprentice will learn in a research environment and be taught by academics who are specialists in their fields. Our research strengths and teaching excellence are ranked among the best in the UK and our provision is rated as good by Ofsted. 

  • Apprentices are contracted to a minimum of 30 hours per week, split between training at the University and working at the employer’s premises.
  • At least 20% of these contracted hours (six hours per working week) must be spent on off-the-job training. 
  • Apprentices get the same benefits as anybody else employed by your organisation such as annual leave entitlement and statutory sick pay. Find out more about apprentice rights, safety and responsibilities.

Delivery model (day or block release)

All our apprenticeship programmes involve scheduled teaching sessions with academic staff (both on site and remote):

  • These may be for one day per week or delivered in a study block.
  • When the apprentice is enrolled, a timetable will be issued with all planned teaching hours for your apprentice’s first semester.
  • You should pay your apprentice their usual salary/ hourly rate when attending these sessions which should count towards their working hours.

Maths and English qualifications

  • If an apprentice can’t provide evidence that they hold Maths and English qualifications at Level 2 (GCSE Grade C/4 or above) they will be required to achieve Functional Skills during the apprenticeship.
  • They will need to attend teaching sessions with one of the University’s third-party subcontractors and complete invigilated exams.
  • You will need to provide your apprentice time to attend these sessions during their regular working hours, they can’t be taken during their 20% off-the-job allocation.

Off-the-job training

At least 20% of an apprentice’s total paid hours (6 hours per working week) should be spent on ‘off-the-job’ training. The majority of this will be covered during the teaching sessions with the University, but it should also include activities in the workplace such as:

  • mentoring sessions with a senior colleague
  • shadowing experienced staff in a similar role
  • completing project or assignment work
  • attending industry-specific workshops or seminars
  • networking with other apprentices to share good practice
  • roleplay or simulation of workplace situations
  • writing a reflective account of a workplace experience
  • attending training sessions on key industry topics.

All off-the-job hours must be logged to create records of learning, progression and achievement.

Providing a workplace mentor

  • As an employer, you must allocate your apprentice a workplace mentor.
  • Their role is to support the apprentice to embed the learning undertaken at the University within the workplace, by sharing their knowledge and expertise.
  • The individual may be your apprentice’s line manager or a colleague with relevant experience.

Reviews and assessments

  • The University, employer and apprentice will meet once a term to review the apprentice’s progress, feed back their thoughts on the apprenticeship and resolve any issues.
  • The final stage of apprenticeship programmes is an End Point Assessment (EPA) that measures the apprentice’s capabilities across skills, knowledge and behaviours of the standard.
  • To sit an EPA, the apprentice must have approval from their employer and training provider that they meet certain requirements (called gateway requirements) set out in their assessment plan.
  • These requirements can vary across programmes, but usually involve:
    • the award of a HE level qualification
    • evidence of achievement for English and Maths at level 2
    • confirmation they are consistently working at the level required by the standard.
  • Gateway requirements and EPA details for each apprenticeship standard can be found on the Institute for Apprenticeships website.

Support for you and your apprentice

University account manager

You will have a named contact from the outset who will guide you through the enrolment process and can any questions or deal with any concerns that may arise throughout the programme. Their role is to maintain service excellence.

Personal tutor

Every apprentice will have a personal tutor who will organise meetings with them to discuss their academic progress. They will listen to any issues the apprentice may face and signpost them to relevant services and support. They may also complete the termly progress reviews.

Teaching staff

Our academic staff are specialists within their fields and may have written books and research articles that your apprentice will be using as part of the apprenticeship. Our teaching standards are internationally recognised and undergo thorough quality assurance processes.

Pastoral support  

The University has a network of support and pastoral care to help your apprentice make the most of their time with us and to assist with any difficulties they may have. Our services will work together to ensure any problems are dealt with as quickly as possible.  

Support for disabled students  

If your apprentice has an impairment, physical or mental health condition or a specific learning difficulty, like dyslexia, it’s important they contact our Disability Services as soon as possible, ideally before they start their apprenticeship, so we can get the right support in place.  

Apprenticeship team

This is an impartial service within the University to assure the quality of your apprenticeship programme. They may contact you for feedback. This will help us to continuously improve our apprenticeship provision.

Careers Centre

If you would like to explore other ways we can help you with your organisation’s recruitment needs, our Careers Centre can help you to advertise job vacancies to our students, arrange for your organisation to attend our careers fairs and more.

Feedback and governance

Our quality assurance policies and practices make sure your apprentice gains knowledge and skills useful in their chosen career and to your business.

Please email Apprenticeships team at to provide feedback at any time.

You and your apprentice may also be asked to provide feedback about the service you have received from us to the University of Leeds or to external bodies, for example, if we are subject to a formal inspection by Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills). 

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