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Apprenticeship information for students

An apprenticeship is a paid job where the employee learns and gains valuable experiences. 

Alongside your on-the-job training, you will spend at least 20% of your working hours completing classroom-based learning with a training provider (such as a college or university), which will lead to a nationally recognised qualification.

We are a registered apprenticeship training provider. Those at level 4, 5 or 6 (equivalent to first, second or third year of University study respectively) are ‘Higher Apprenticeships’, studied at degree level (but do not result in a full degree award).

An apprenticeship will expose you to a range of experiences and support, which will develop a variety of highly sought after skills. Skills might include:

  • Professionals skills such as the basics of writing emails and understanding
  • Business etiquette industry skills such as understanding sector priorities and experience of working with the latest technology
  • Confidence building in areas like project management, contributing to meetings and speaking to customers
  • Resilience to cope with challenges and find solutions
  • Time management skills to help cope with the pressures of dealing with competitive deadlines and large workloads

Who can apply?

An apprenticeship is a great paid work opportunity for people who are:

  • Early in their career
  • Looking to upskill in their current job
  • Looking for a career change
  • Not in full-time education

About your studies

In England, it is a statutory requirement for an apprentice to spend 20% of their paid time off the-job.  This involves essential training to help the you gain the skills needed to complete their apprenticeship.

The learning you engage with in terms of study with the training provider may include:

  • Teaching theory (classroom lessons, lectures and online learning)
  • Practical training (shadowing, mentoring and industry visits)
  • Learning support and time to write assignments

You will have an individualised learning plan will be signed by the employer, training provider and apprentice. This is specific to each learner and ensures that there is a shared understanding of your studies on the Apprenticeship. The specifics of the learning plan are recorded in an Initial Needs Assessment document which is agreed with your Apprenticeship Course Lead, and your Employer.

Assessments will be designed in partnership between the employer and the University as the training provider. Assessments on the apprenticeship will include formative assessments (informal assessments focused on the provision of timely actionable feedback) and summative assessments (that carry a mark and will contribute to formal completion of the apprenticeship).

Each assessment will be marked by appropriately qualified staff, and will be returned to the student with constructive, critical feedback which highlights strengths but also areas for enhancement and subsequent development. Assessments will be aligned with the ‘standards’ associated with the subject of the apprenticeship in question, so will vary between apprenticeships. At the end of the apprenticeship you will be required to complete a summative final assessment titled the End Point Assessment (EPA).

How often will I be assessed?

This will vary according to the apprenticeship and the approved 'standards' that apply to it. However, you should expect to be assessed on a regular basis via a combination of formative and summative assessments that are design to enable you to demonstrate the achievement of the standards of the apprenticeship, and to prepare you for the End Point Assessment.

What is an End Point Assessment (EPA)?

The EPA is an assessment of the knowledge, skills and behaviours that you have mastered through your apprenticeship. It provides confirmation that you are occupationally competent. EPAs are designed by employers (sometimes in partnership with the training provider) but are conducted by an independent and approved provider of EPAs known as End Point Assessment Organisations (EPAOs).

The EPAO will be different to the training provider. You will only receive confirmation of completion of the apprenticeship once you have passed all required elements of the EPA, including any standards in English and Maths.

The amount you could earn will vary greatly between different kinds of apprenticeships and apprentices, depending on the work setting and role they are in. The type of industry, location or experience will influence what you earn during your apprenticeship, as well as the kind of apprenticeship you choose.

If you're over the age of 19 will be entitled to the National Minimum Wage. Some employers pay a competitive salary – again dependent on the nature of the employer and the apprenticeship.

Apprenticeship costs

There are no student loan or tuition fees for an apprenticeship. They are funded by your employer and the government.

You will need to cover the costs of your day-to-day expenses, such as lunch and travel. If you're aged between 16-24 and a care leaver, you will receive a £1,000 bursary payment to support you in your first year of the apprenticeship.

Individuals can sometimes be concerned that they will miss out on the social aspects of full-time education like university. Each apprentice has a different experience depending on their training provider or employer, however they are often employed alongside other apprentices who provide invaluable support.

You will be able to engage with the wider social aspects of university life, including access to Sport St Mary’s and the events and activities of the St Mary’s Student Union.

Where are the responsibilities of myself as an Apprentice, my employer and those of the University explained?

The mutual responsibilities of all three parties (Apprentice, Provider and Employer) are set out in a Apprenticeships Learning Agreement.

What is the role of the training provider?

Training providers play a key role in providing off-the-job training. They assess the apprentice’s progress towards achieving their qualification and support them during their apprenticeship. Training providers liaise closely with your employer to provide:

  • An induction programme
  • A detailed training plan (including details of off the-job training)
  • Regular progress reviews
  • Opportunities to put learning into practice to achieve their apprenticeship qualification/requirements
  • Mentoring and general learning support

Where can I find further guidance for Apprentices?

The Government Apprenticeships Resource Hub provides a useful first port of call for apprentices. The Government provides a rich array of guidance materials specific to apprentices. These can be found on the Apprenticeship Guides section. There is a dedicated suite of guides for potential apprenticeship applicants.

Do you involve the employer in the process of designing new apprenticeships?

Yes – this is crucial in ensuring that each apprenticeship programme is aligned with an approved apprenticeship ‘Standard’ and with the training needs of the employer. The University will consult employer partners in the design of all aspects of our apprenticeship training programmes, including content (practice, theory, skills, behaviours etc), assessment and access to learning resources. Co-creation will be at the heart of our programme approval process and will involve capturing and responding to the views of employer partners and apprentices.

How much flexibility is possible in how the academic aspects of the apprenticeship are delivered?

Our programmes are employer demand-led; where there is a demand for a wide geographical coverage we can meet this through a blended delivery approach with a mix of face-to-face (on or off campus) and online learning. In the development of our Apprenticeships, we will align the learning outcomes of our HE qualification to the relevant Apprenticeship ‘Standard’ (knowledge, skills and behaviours) to ensure the learner can achieve the Standard and prepare for the End Point Assessment. This flexible approach to creation of our apprenticeship programmes; they can be co-created with sectors, groups of employers, individual employers, or designed for flexible and contextualised delivery.

How do you assess the ‘readiness’ of an apprentice to engage with an apprenticeships programme?

Apprentices will apply through our online application process and complete an Initial Needs Assessment (INA) as part of this process. The Apprenticeship Coordinator in the relevant Faculty/Institute who leads delivery of the academic programme of study, will assess the application to check it meets both the course entry requirements and the Apprenticeship eligibility rules as set out by the ESFA. The Initial Needs Assessment (INA)is a mandatory part of the University’s admissions process. Our approach begins with the apprentice's self-assessment which also enables the employer to contribute to it. This allows us to capture their skills, knowledge and behaviours from the outset and therefore help determine whether the apprenticeship is right for them. The initial needs assessment (INA) process also aligns with our processes for accrediting prior learning to ensure that prior learning is considered when designing the apprentice’s learning plan.

How is the progress of apprentices monitored and supported?

The progress of apprentices is monitored by their Course Leader. Apprentices are also allocated a Personal Tutor whose job is to provide academic and pastoral support. They play an important role in ensuring that the apprentice receives a high standard of guidance and support.

During the programme of study, students will also engage with formative and summative assessments, which play a key role in enabling their progress to be monitored, whilst critical/constructive feedback enables apprentices to recognise their strengths and achievement, whilst also highlighting areas for development/improvement.

The progress of each apprentice will be reviewed via regular Three-way progress reviews, which involve discussion between the apprentice, the Course Lead and the Employer (normally the apprentice’s line manager).

The final three-way meeting will be a ‘Gateway’ meeting where the progress of the apprentice is reviewed for a final time prior to them being put forwards to undertake their End Point Assessment (EPA).

Dou have a complaints process that can be used by apprentices?

Yes.Our Student Complaints Policy will enable apprentices to submit a complaint via the Student Complaints Policy. Feedback and complaints data from apprentices will be reviewed regularly by the University’s Apprenticeship Steering Group with action plans developed to address any issues.