It’s National Apprenticeship Week between 5 and 11 February.

A time to celebrate the achievements of apprentices and the positive impact they have on communities, businesses, and the wider economy. 

In this article:

During the National Apprenticeship Week, we’re taking the opportunity to highlight the benefits of apprenticeships – as a powerful development tool and a route to CIPD membership. Our founder Karen Waite delves further into what are apprenticeships and how you can get involved.

So what are apprenticeships and why are they important?

Apprenticeships are employer-led, employer designed and paid for by employers through levy funding. They combine on-the-job and off-the-job learning and ensure successful apprentices have achieved a minimum level of competence in English and Maths.

They are not just for entry-level roles or for people who want to learn practical crafts like carpentry or plumbing but for all workers at all levels in all industries. They offer a high-quality route into professions.

7 apprenticeship facts you need to know:

  • Levy payers can get up to 100% funding, and non-levy payers can get 95% funding for apprenticeship courses.
  • Apprenticeships are available across over 170 sectors in over 1,500 job roles not just manual trade jobs.
  • You can study degree equivalent apprenticeships, levels 4, 5, 6 and masters degree equivalent apprenticeships level 7, without paying tuition fees.
  • No upper age limit (16+) over 47% of apprentices are over 25 using apprenticeships to enhance careers.
  • Apprenticeships can be used to upskill, re-skill and increase staff retention through the apprenticeship levy.
  • No student debt, earn while you learn.
  • The HR and L&D apprenticeships lead to CIPD membership. Level 3 and 5 – Associate and level 7 – Chartered Member.

Do you recognise the value of Apprenticeships?

The word apprenticeship has been unattractive and lacked credibility over the years and there is still a perception that apprenticeships are only for entry-level roles and that they are a fallback for people who haven’t made the grade in other forms of education.

With the new Apprenticeship Standards and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education the Government have transformed apprenticeships to offer a high-quality route into professions and puts apprenticeships at the heart of the nation’s vocational education approach.

Last year alone there were 74,200 apprentices registered in the UK across a wide range of standards and for a wide range of professions but there is still work to be done to repair the apprenticeship brand as the credibility and value are not always recognised.

Apprenticeships are a fantastic development vehicle. They support employees to develop skills and knowledge directly relevant to their jobs. The combination of off-the-job and on-the-job learning means that apprentices gain the theoretical understanding to be occupationally competent and are also able to apply their learning in a real work setting and embed it within their practice.

Within the apprenticeship space, there is a broad network of experts with hands-on experience working in partnership to deliver great learning outcomes.

Degree apprenticeships are a great way of gaining higher-level qualifications while working. That higher level qualification will have direct relevance to the apprentice’s job and develop the skills they need to advance their careers.

We believe apprenticeships are an underused asset for people development and should sit at the heart of every organisation’s L&D strategy.

Joel Roach, Apprentice Council Chair, Association of Apprentices, on recognising the value of apprenticeships:

Apprenticeships are an incredible opportunity for individuals, employers and the UK as a whole, to think creatively and be aspirational about skills and careers

Joel Roach, Association of Apprentices

So are apprenticeships at the heart of your L&D strategy and is this represented in how many apprentices you have?

Apprenticeships for people professionals

Alongside my role at Leap Like A Salmon, I am an assessor for CIPD. They are an ‘End Point Assessment Organisation’ (EPAO) for Apprenticeship Standards, within the people profession. A key part of their role is to set up apprentices for success by trying to create a ‘no surprise assessment process’. They provide comprehensive guidance and resources and are on hand to support employers and apprentices.

As the professional body and career partner for people professionals, they believe that apprenticeships are a key part of all organisational strategy for recruiting, upskilling and retaining key talent. They believe that this approach should begin within people teams and that if those apprentices on standards they assess have a fantastic experience they are more likely to promote apprenticeships in general as a route into membership.

They assess five standards for people professionals at all stages of their careers.

Level 3 apprenticeships are for people starting out in HR or L&D gaining an understanding of the profession and learning to work with their business to add value and create impact.

At Level 5 apprentices will be established within their profession and will likely be operating with confidence, perhaps leading projects and teams.

Level 7 is for Senior People Professionals who are the in-house experts in people, work and change. They champion the people agenda to create working environments and cultures that help get the best out of people, delivering great organisational outcomes.

At CIPD, achieving an apprenticeship is a huge deal and should come with professional recognition.

For this reason, any apprentice who completes their apprenticeship with CIPD as the EPAO is eligible to come into membership with their professional body and career partner. They will be able to use the relevant designation Assoc CIPD or Chartered MCIPD after their name which demonstrates they have showcased their skills against an internationally recognised benchmark.

Any apprentice completing Level 3 or 5 will be eligible for Associate Member status and any apprentice completing the Level 7 Senior People Professional will be eligible for Chartered Member.

People Management Award (PMA)

Last year was significant for people profession apprenticeships as they were equally recognised in the prestigious People Management Awards to include apprenticeships for the first time in 2023 with a new category:

  • Outstanding HR & L&D Apprentice Award.

This new category was a huge success with a high standard of applications from all levels. The winner this year was a level 5 L&D apprentice Molly Wysocki-Jones. Congratulations to Molly, who was a worthy winner who is also helping to champion the value and benefits of apprenticeships. 

Below is a photo of Molly receiving her award at the ceremony in London.


Could you take on an apprentice?

Think about opportunities in your organisation to take on an apprentice or for you to develop your skills and/or to enhance or change careers. Look at the standards and opportunities available here.

We are always looking for ways we can champion apprenticeships to improve their credibility and recognise their value in an organisation. Please let us know what you are doing to support apprenticeships and we can highlight your success on our blog.

Check out our Knowledge Base for further resources, you might also like our blog on why you should consider an apprentice. For support check out our Ask The Experts section or stay informed with our social TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

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