Is an apprentice right for you?

However big or small your organisation, apprenticeships are a brilliant way to plug any skills gaps and grow your business.

Tiro delivers science and technology apprenticeships with a wide range of businesses, from micro-employers through to international blue-chip organisations. But not every employer makes the cut.

We believe that apprenticeships are a two-way street. Your apprentice must have a strong work ethic and a desire to succeed. In turn, you’ll sate their curiosity and nurture their potential.


of employers say that staff morale is improved by having apprentices. - National Apprenticeship Service | 2018


of employers say that apprentices improved products or service quality - National Apprenticeship Service | 2018


of employers say that they improved productivity. Apprentices became highly skilled even before they finished their training - National Apprenticeship Service | 2018

Are you ready to take on an apprentice?

It’s really important to have buy-in from the very top of an organisation to ensure a successful apprenticeship programme. This can be a challenge for some large employers.

Another deciding factor is having the right staff available to mentor and support your apprentices, which some smaller companies find tough.

Every business is different, so the only way to know for sure is to talk to the team at Tiro.

We’ll get you ready…

At Tiro, we have years of experience, so we understand what creates the ideal conditions for bringing on apprentices. All of our programmes can be tailored to fit your organisation and the way you work, for the best possible chance of success.

Together, we’ll explore whether it’s right for you, right now. And if not, we help you to make the necessary changes to get you ready.

We’ve worked with companies of all sizes to develop their capacity to take on apprentices and make the most of them. That might mean helping you to demonstrate the value of apprentices internally, to gain the buy-in you need. Or we can help get you ready for mentoring apprentices, by recruiting or training the right people in your team. Whatever your obstacles, we’ve probably seen them – and solved them – before.

A few FAQs & Mythbusting

How old are apprentices?

Anyone can be an apprentice these days, from age 16 and over. There is no longer an upper age limit.

Two out of five new apprenticeships begun in 2017/18 were people over 24 years old, but at Tiro our oldest is twice that age!

This means employers have a wider choice of candidates than you might expect.

Whatever their age, our candidates nearly always have some work experience behind them. Tiro only shortlists people with the maturity and work ethic they’ll need to be an asset to your business from day one. They are fast learners who will get up to speed quickly, and will be working independently before you know it.

Apprenticeships are an active choice for many brilliant candidates, not a last resort.

Tiro filters all potential candidates through our rigorous recruitment process. We make sure you’ll only see the best of the best – people who are keen to learn, keen to work, and determined to succeed.

What do we need to have in place for apprentices?

Wholehearted Organisational Buy-In – you’ll need to ensure your organisation has unwavering buy-in and commitment to apprenticeships as a key part of your talent management strategy.  In our experience, the success of apprenticeship programmes lives and dies on whether this is in place or not.  We can support with helping you gain buy-in, bust myths and influence why apprenticeships are a key strategic imperative for your talent strategy!

On the job mentoring – your apprentices ‘on the job’ training will be overseen by a mentor, who’ll make sure they are supported and developed at work. Tiro will make sure you and your mentors understand the role and are equipped to get the most out of it. It’s not just a win for the apprentice. Mentors enjoy many benefits too!

Workbased Learning – alongside the ‘knowledge input’ we’ll provide, you’ll need to provide workbased learning and training to your apprentice. We can help you structure this so it aligns with the modules your apprentices will be studying on their programme.

How is training delivered through an apprenticeship?

We come to you. We take a blended approach to learning, delivered at your usual place of work and the accessibility of online self-paced and tutor supported learning.

Your apprentices will work for you while pursuing a nationally recognised learning programme. Most of their time – at least 30 hours per week – will be spent learning the ropes in a hands-on role, with the help of colleagues and mentors.

They’ll also spend 6 hours a week or more focussed on the formal learning elements, including any learning you provide as an employer.

At Tiro our programmes are delivered through blended learning, a flexible approach which suits the varied contexts of our learners and employers. An expert Tiro tutor will lead the apprentices through the learning programme, which combines academic, practical and technical training.

Remote delivery 

Tutors hold regular online sessions with each apprentice. These include:

  • Initial assessment and individual progress reviews
  • Live lectures, lessons and workshops
  • Informal catch ups and huddles
  • Receiving assignments and sharing feedback
  • Setting independent work through modular courses on Tiro’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)

In-Person Delivery – We come to you! 

Throughout the programme, tutors will visit the apprentices at your normal workplace to:

  • Observe them in the workplace
  • Deliver mock End-Point Assessments (EPA)
  • Complete progress reviews with the apprentice and their mentor

Like every new starter, your apprentice will need an induction in health and safety, and training to use specific equipment for their role.

As for learning the ropes in their new job and developing the skills and knowledge they need to become qualified, that’s where our experienced tutors come in. This reduces pressure on your existing workforce.

Also, don’t underestimate the positive effect of having an apprentice on the team. Existing staff often find it really energising to have someone to mentor. Productivity can improve all round.

It’s rewarding for everyone.

How much does it cost to take on apprentices?

It’s a myth that apprenticeship training is really expensive. The apprenticeship training programme is funded in one of two ways:

  • For large companies with a total wage bill of over £3 million, you will already pay into the apprenticeship levy, to which the government adds 10%. Any apprenticeships training costs will be paid from your levy fund. We can support you to access and allocate this funding.
  • Smaller organisations <(with a wage bill under £3 million) don’t pay into the apprenticeship levy. You’ll pay a 5% contribution for training costs, and the remaining 95% is picked up by the government.

Each apprenticeship is priced differently. These prices are set by the government to reflect the costs for Tiro to deliver the training and ensure employers get maximum value for money.

It pays to pay well.

On top of these training costs, all employers pay their apprentices’ wages. As you’d expect, if you offer a competitive wage you are more likely to attract and retain a high quality workforce.

When it comes to setting an apprentice wage, the Tiro team are happy to guide you. The apprentice minimum wage is set by the government and adjusted each year. After one year if a learner is 19 + you’ll need to ensure you’re paying national minimum wage, not the apprenticeship minimum wage. Also consider the previous qualifications, work experience and life experience you are looking for, as well as your location, industry sector, and the role itself.

Some employers can access incentives and funding towards your apprentice’s wages. Tiro can help you to understand what grants are currently available for your business. Or read the latest government guidance.

How much do we need to pay apprentices?

When it comes to setting your apprentices wages, the Tiro team are happy to guide you.

The apprentice minimum wage is set by the government and adjusted each year. But as you’d expect, if you offer a competitive wage you’re most likely to attract and retain a high quality workforce.

Do I get a choice in who we take on as an apprentices at our organisation?

Yes – just as you do with any employee you take on. If you have candidates in mind, we’ll ask to arrange a discovery call to ensure the candidates meet the requirements for the apprenticeship training. Tiro also provides a recruitment service – through this, we advertise roles, select and pre-screen candidates, and provide you with a short-list of candidates to interview and offer!

Do candidates need any qualifications before they can become an apprentice?

There are no formal academic requirements in order to be accepted on to an apprenticeship – in our experience candidates with the right behaviours and motivation to suit your business make the best apprentices and the apprenticeship a resounding success. If an apprentice does not have a 4/C or higher in GCSE Math and English they’ll be required to complete Functional Skills qualifications alongside their apprenticeship, which we provide.

What is the procedure for ‘signing up’ apprentices?

Once you’ve offered to your new apprentices, you’ll need to start your normal new starter procedures and paperwork (i.e. contract of employment, pre-employment checks etc…).

We’ll then pick up the enrolment process, part of this involves a meeting between the apprentice, the workplace mentor, and the tutor. The purpose of the meeting is to officially enrol the apprentice onto their programme, outline the apprenticeship agreement, schedule tutor meetings, and complete necessary paperwork. This meeting can last up to two hours, and requires the attendance of the apprentice’s mentor, as well as someone within the organisation who can sign HR paperwork.

How long do apprenticeships last?

Apprenticeships vary in length depending on the programme. The minimum length is 12 months. Information Communications Technician programmes last for a minimum of 15 months, and Level 3 Laboratory Technician Standards for a minimum of 21 months. Our degree level programmes are 4 years.

What happens when an apprenticeship ends?

When your apprentices finish their apprenticeship training programme, you may choose to progress your apprentices on to a higher level, or take on the apprentices as regular employees. If you decide not to keep your apprentices, you’ll need to provide some support in helping them to find future employment. This could be in the form of career advice, an exit interview, or support in searching for further employment or education.

You needn’t worry that once you’ve invested in your apprentice, they’ll just take their new skills elsewhere. The vast majority of apprentices are delighted to stay on with their employer once their apprenticeship is complete.

That’s certainly the way we like it here at Tiro, and we support employers and apprentices to decide on the right next steps for everyone.

Employers who treat their apprentices well tend to reap the rewards for years to come, as apprentices build on what they’ve learned. It’s also not uncommon for an apprentice to complete a programme and then embark on another apprenticeship at a higher level qualification.

Plenty more fish in the sea.

Of course, there’s no obligation to keep anyone past their initial programme, and some apprentices do prefer to move around. All that means is there’s a growing pool of qualified, experienced people who have been nurtured by other fantastic employers like you.

What happens if things don’t work out with an apprentice?

We endeavour to ensure apprentices receive a high standard of support both from employers and Tiro tutors. In cases where apprentices are struggling, we feel it is important to ensure that adequate support is provided from all sides, in order to allow for improvements in performance. Ultimately, apprentices are employees of an organisation, and are subject to the usual policies of the workplace. This means that in rare cases where standards and expectations are not met, as the employer, you may pursue the regular disciplinary procedures of the workplace, including ending employment where necessary.

With Tiro’s help, we hired our first ever cohort of apprentice materials technicians. They also upskilled existing staff using nationally recognised NVQs. And they trained our existing staff to mentor the apprentices, which has been really energising for the whole team.

There are remarkable apprentices out there just waiting to be found…

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