How to hire an electrical apprentice

Are you considering hiring an electrical apprentice? Bringing on an apprentice can be a rewarding investment, providing your company with skilled talent while offering valuable training opportunities to aspiring electricians.

However, navigating the process of hiring an electrical apprentice requires careful planning and adherence to specific guidelines. In this guide, we’ll discuss the essential steps and considerations involved in setting up an electrical apprenticeship, as well as recruiting and hiring an electrical apprentice.


What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a type of job training that combines work and study. An apprentice is employed by a company and works alongside experienced staff to learn specific job roles. While apprenticeships are available in a wide variety of industries, they are particularly common for trades such as construction, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering.

In the UK, apprenticeships are available for people aged 16 or over, allowing them to learn new skills and gain qualifications while also earning a wage. An apprenticeship is an alternative to academic qualifications and spans Levels 2 to 7, which are equivalent to GCSEs and a Master’s Degree, respectively.

At the end of the apprenticeship, an assessment will take place to test the knowledge and skills learned. The requirements for the end-point assessment (EPA) will vary depending on the apprenticeship but could include workplace observation, a practical test, written or multiple-choice tests, or a presentation.


Types of electrical apprenticeship

There are two types of electrical apprenticeship available in the UK, both of which are Level 3 qualifications. Depending on the nature of your business and the industries you work with, you may be able to offer one of both of these apprenticeships.

Domestic Electrician

The Level 3 Intermediate Domestic Electrician Apprenticeship is aimed at providing the knowledge and skills to install, maintain and repair electrical systems in people’s homes. This includes lighting, heating, security systems and more, as well as working with newer technologies to increase energy efficiency and minimise carbon emissions.

Once qualified, domestic electricians may choose to work for businesses such as local authorities, construction companies, electrical utility companies, and providers of domestic electrical services. They may also choose to become a self-employed electrical contractor.

The typical time for completion of the Domestic Electrician Apprenticeship is 3 years. The maximum funding available for this apprenticeship is £15,000.

Installation and Maintenance Electrician

The Level 3 Intermediate Installation and Maintenance Electrician Apprenticeship is aimed at providing the knowledge and skills to install, maintain and repair electrical systems in industrial and commercial and residential settings. This includes installing and commissioning low voltage electrical equipment and electronics.

Once qualified, installation and maintenance electricians may choose to work in fields such as construction, facilities management, manufacturing, utilities, healthcare or transport. They may also choose to enter into electrical design or become a self-employed electrical contractor.

The typical time for completion of the Installation and Maintenance Electrician Apprenticeship is 4 years. The maximum funding available for this apprenticeship is £20,000.


Why hire an electrical apprentice?

Hiring an electrical apprentice offers lots of great benefits for your business.

Develops essential skills

Investing in an apprenticeship helps you build a pipeline of skilled workers for the future. By providing practical, hands-on training that aligns directly with your business requirements, an electrical apprenticeship allows you to develop valuable employees within your company.

Allows you to customise training

Apprenticeships allow you to tailor training to meet the needs of your business, and how you prefer to operate. Rather than retraining someone, you can focus on developing skills and knowledge that are directly relevant to your clients and projects.

Unlocks a cost-effective workforce

Apprentices are typically paid at a lower rate than fully qualified employees, and apprenticeships are also supported by government funding. This can help your business reduce labour costs while still expanding your workforce.

Offers fresh perspectives

Apprentices often bring new ideas and perspectives to your team. They can inject enthusiasm and innovation into your business, contributing to a dynamic workforce that is better able to adapt to changes in the industry.

Supports industry growth

Hiring an apprentice contributes to the growth and sustainability of the electrical industry. It helps to ensure a continuous supply of workers, which is particularly important in the trade sector, which is experiencing a skills gap.


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How do you set up an electrical apprenticeship?

Setting up an electrical apprenticeship as an employer involves several key steps to ensure its success. Here’s an outline of the process for hiring an apprentice in England. The process varies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Identify training needs

First of all, you need to determine the skills and roles that you need apprentices for. This includes identifying specific tasks and responsibilities that your electrical apprentices will undertake.

Register with the apprenticeship service

Employers need to use the apprenticeship service to manage their apprenticeship. You’ll use your account to access apprenticeship funding, choose an apprenticeship training course and training provider, register your apprentices, and other essential tasks.

Choose an apprenticeship standard or framework

Apprenticeship standards and frameworks outline the skills, knowledge, and behaviours needed to achieve to pass the qualification, or provide a structured program to support the required learning outcomes. Your apprenticeship must align with a recognised standard or framework to be suitable for the qualification. For electrical apprenticeships, this will follow the domestic or installation and maintenance pathways.

Find a training provider

You’ll need to research and select a suitable training provider to deliver the off-the-job training. This could be a college or training agency, but you must ensure that they’re approved to deliver your chosen apprenticeship standard or framework.

Advertise your apprenticeship

You can then advertise your electrical apprenticeship vacancy through your company’s own recruitment channels, though recruitment agencies, or by advertising on the government’s find an apprenticeship service.

Apprentice interviews and selection

Screen and interview potential candidates, remembering to keep the required criteria for the apprenticeship standard in mind. Select a candidate who demonstrates potential and motivation to succeed in the apprenticeship, and shows an interest in a career in the electrical industry. Make sure your chosen candidate is eligible for an apprenticeship.

Make employment arrangements

Like any other job, you’ll need to offer your chosen candidate an employment contract outlining terms and conditions including wages, working hours, and any requirements specific to their apprenticeship. You’ll also need to register them through the apprenticeship service to access funding and support.

Provide apprentice onboarding

A comprehensive induction will help to familiarise the apprentice with your company, policies and working environment, making them feel more at ease. Allocate a mentor or supervisor to provide guidance and support throughout the apprenticeship, and develop a structured training and development plan outlining on-the-job and off-the-job training activities.

Monitor apprenticeship progress

Regularly review your apprentice’s progress against the apprenticeship standard to make sure they’re on track. This could include conducting assessments or carrying out on-the-job observations to measure skill development. Provide ongoing feedback, coaching and support, and make sure to address any challenges or concerns promptly.

Support the assessment process

Guide apprentices through their end-point assessment (EPA) and any additional evaluations required to complete the apprenticeship. If they aren’t successful in their EPA, you may need to support them through resits for some or all of the assessment. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, your apprentice will be awarded with certification, and you may choose to offer them a permanent job role.

Evaluate the apprenticeship

Review the apprenticeship program to make sure it’s effective for your business, apprentices and current employees. Gather feedback from apprentices, mentors and stakeholders to identify areas for improvement, and make any necessary adjustments to enhance future apprenticeship experiences.


What funding is available for hiring an electrical apprentice?

You can get help from the government to pay for apprenticeship training. The main source of funding is the Apprenticeship Levy, but you might be able to get additional support depending on the apprentice you hire. As of April 2021, all new apprenticeships are funded and managed through the apprenticeship service.

Apprenticeship Levy

The Apprenticeship Levy is a tax that goes towards the covering cost of apprenticeship training. It’s only paid by employers with a pay bill of over £3 million, and is charged at a rate of 0.5% of their total annual pay bill. While only large businesses pay the levy (currently around 2% of employers), the funds collected are available for other employers who want to take on apprentices.

Smaller employers that aren’t required to pay the levy need to reserve funds if they wish to use them to hire an apprentice. You’ll need to make a 5% contribution to the cost of the apprenticeship training, and the government will pay the remaining 95%, up to the maximum amount of funding allocated to the apprenticeship you have chosen.

Additional funding and support

Depending on your apprentice’s circumstances, or if you’re a small employer (with fewer than 50 employees), you could also be eligible for additional funding and support.

You can get £1,000 to support your apprentice in the workplace if they are: aged 16 to 18; aged 19 to 25 with an education, health and care plan; or aged 19 to 25 years old and used to be in care. You might also be able to get a payment when you hire an apprentice who was made redundant.

Your employer responsibilities

As an employer, you have certain responsibilities when hiring an electrical apprentice.

Apprenticeship pay

You must pay the apprentice at least the national minimum wage. For those aged under 19, or aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship, the apprentice rate will apply. Otherwise, the national minimum wage for their age bracket will apply.

Apprenticeship length

An apprenticeship must last for at least 1 year, and can last up to 5 years depending on the level they’re studying. You must therefore provide a contract of employment that’s at least long enough to allow them to complete their apprenticeship successfully.

Apprenticeship structure

You’re responsible for making sure that your apprentice works with experienced staff and learns job-specific skills. At least 20% of their normal working hours must be off-the-job training, which could be done at a college or training organisation, on your premises or online. You must give your apprentice time off to attend this training, and you must pay them for this time.