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Welcome to the Managers' Area

 Your online resource to help guide you through everything you need to know about apprenticeships, how to recruit apprentices, apprenticeships as development for current staff and much more.

Apprenticeships are one of the best mechanisms available to employers to build diverse, talented and committed teams from the ground up. People who start their careers on an apprenticeship scheme are likely to stay longer and gain invaluable knowledge of different aspects of the organisation as they progress.

Key things you need to know:

  • No training fees - Apprenticeship training and assessment, including end-point assessment will be met by the University through our Apprenticeship Levy digital account. Therefore the applicant or their department/directorate will not need to budget for training and assessment fees for the apprenticeship. Click for further details on the Levy.
  • No changes to salary - remain on current pay grade and spine point for substantive position.
  • Support with training and guided learning by our training providers and tutors.
  • Build your talent pipeline – Introduce new knowledge and skills to your team.
  • Links to professional registration - where appropriate apprenticeships have been aligned with relevant professional bodies.
  • Terms and conditions of employment will remain the same. However, 20% of the applicant’s time will be allocated to off-the-job training, this must be completed during contracted working hours.  Off-the-job training might include training delivered at your place of work, day release, block release or blended learning (see Apprenticeships off-the-job training guidance, policy, and myth busters). 


Firstly you need to identify apprenticeship training. The HR apprenticeships team will be able to advise you on which Apprenticeship, at what level, is right for the role. 

Apprentices should be employed on a permanent/open-ended contract (subject to successful, timely completion of the training) in preference to a fixed-term contract of employment in line with the Vice Chancellors message of "Significantly increasing our use of open-ended contracts of employment, recognising that fixed-term contracts will be appropriate in a limited range of circumstances, such as cover for study leave and family leave".

Process charts and a manager’s checklist have been developed to help guide you, step by step, through the process.

Want to know more?

See the below links to the Government website:

Apprenticeships as Professional Development for Current Staff

Higher and Degree Apprenticeships provide an opportunity for existing staff to enhance existing skills, develop new skills and knowledge.

Apprenticeships should complement, but not be disruptive to, Services’ workforce strategies and are one, of many, development opportunities available to University staff. 

See the FAQ tab for frequently asked questions relating to existing staff doing apprenticeships for skill development.

Identify Training

A selection of common apprenticeships are detailed in the links above, if you are interested in putting a member of your staff on one of these please contact the HR apprenticeships team for information on registered training providers of the apprenticeship standard. 

Both you and your staff memnber should ensure you have read the associated apprenticeship course description and fully understand the time commitment required for the apprenticeship training programme.  


Full application details and eligibility details can be found uner the 'Current Staff' page.

As places/funding may be limited, please note that submission of the nomination form does not guarantee an apprenticeship. Information provided in the application form will be used to assess applicant suitability and allocation of places will be confirmed via email.

Support from line managers

As a line manager you will need to agree to:

  • Support the applicant to identify opportunities to put their learning into practice, including any work-based on-the-job training required.
  • Release and support the candidate to attend all off-the-job training requirements of the apprenticeship which are likely to be a minimum of 20% of their contracted working hours (see the 'What is 20% OTJ' tab for more details).
  • Have regular 1:1s with the applicant throughout the programme and provide feedback.
  • Participate in training progress reviews with the apprenticeship training provider to review progress (every 6-8 weeks).
  • Witness apprentice performance and provide verification of evidence.
  • Support and encourage your apprentice and reward achievement.
  • Champion and support Apprenticeships at the university and in your own networks (media, photographs, events, articles, web, and case-studies).

20% Off-The-Job (OTJ)

In summary:

  • Off-the-job training can take place at an employer’s workplace or off-site (e.g. in a classroom or from home via distance learning). It can even take place at the apprentice’s normal workstation. It is the activity, rather than the location, that determines whether the training meets the definition set out in the apprenticeship funding rules.
  • Learning support and time spent writing assessments/assignments counts towards your OTJ (New knowledge, skills and behaviours can be learnt and developed through individual or group assignments).
  • All apprenticeship training, including any ‘catch-up’, must take place during normal working hours.
  • 20% OTJ is the minimum amount of time that should be spent on off-the-job training during an apprenticeship.
  • 20% OTJ must be within apprentice’s normal working hours over this period.
  • Off-the-job training must be separate from the productive/normal day-job.
  • Statutory annual leave, which equates to 28 days per year, is deducted from the 20% OTJ calculation (The maximum deduction is 28 days per year, even if the apprentice receives more than this from their employer, and this includes the eight UK bank holidays).

Links to the government documents are below:

Training, Mentoring and Support for Managers

The People Development at the University has a broad suite of training available to managers and mentors.

Suggested training:


The apprentice’s line manager, or nominated colleague, should be assigned to mentor the apprentice. The mentor is there to offer support and to use their knowledge, skills and connections to help the apprentice in their new role and help them develop.

Mentors should help the apprentice become more self-aware and allow them to take responsibility for solving their own problems.  Apprentices will also be supported by skills assessors/tutors from our training providers who will visit the apprentice on-site and provide support during their time with them on off-the-job training.

Some advice on how to make your apprenticeship working relationship work:

  • Ensure the apprentice has a mentor. 
  • Schedule regular 1:1 meetings/catch-ups to review the progress and development of the apprentice in their work and with their training.
  • Set their PDR objectives and targets at the start. You will need to set both short, medium and long term targets for the apprentice to work towards. Don’t forget to make them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound (SMART).
  • Encourage the apprentice to use their new and existing skills to contribute directly to business needs.
  • Keep apprentices motivated and interested by challenging them with new tasks to consolidate their skills.
  • Support their apprenticeship training. You may be able to give them work that they can use towards projects or evidence for their skills assessor. Ensure that they are supported by having 20% of their time for off-the-job training.
  • Regularly communicate with the apprentice and their training provider to check they are on track and address any issues/concerns that they may have.
  • Know when the apprentice has their college/training day, and get involved with visits from their skills assessor/tutor.

Mentoring is a form of one-to-one support where a more experienced colleague uses their knowledge, skills and connections to help someone with their current and future challenges. It has been shown to have a positive effect on individuals’ career success.

A mentor is often described as a “critical friend” or “supportive challenger,” because they have a role in helping people become more self-aware and to take responsibility for solving their own problems.  However, mentors are distinct from most coaches in that they have often walked the same path before, and use their own experience to support the mentee.  They may be able to help with general professional and career advice, or may have particular expertise that is relevant to the mentee’s situation.  For example, they may be very successful at engaging industry in research, or at managing people, while the mentee is only starting to develop in those areas.

FAQs for Apprenticeships as Professional Development for Staff

For Recruitment FAQs please see the Recruitment Guidebook 

What is an apprenticeship?

An Apprenticeship is a skills development programme, that accompanies a job, designed by employers in the sector. It allows the apprentice to gain technical knowledge and real practical experience, along with functional and personal skills, required for their immediate job and future career. These are acquired through a mix of learning in the workplace, formal off the job training and the opportunity to practice and embed new skills in a real work context. This broader mix differentiates the apprenticeship experience from training delivered to meet narrowly focused job needs.

Who funds the apprenticeship?

The costs of the apprenticeship training will be covered by the levy. The relevant department would cover salary costs as per normal.

Any extra expenses, such as travel to training are not covered by the levy, and it will be down to departmental discretion as to whether they offer to pay expenses.

Can current University staff do an apprenticeship?

Yes - Current members of staff are eligible to undertake an apprenticeship at the same level as, or at a lower level than, a qualification they already hold, if the apprenticeship will allow them to acquire substantive new skills and they can evidence that the content of the training is materially different from any prior qualification or a previous apprenticeship they hold.

How long does an apprenticeship last?

This will vary depending on the level chosen (i.e., can take between 1 and 5 years).

What are the typical qualifications gained by the apprentice?

There is a vast array of qualifications available within an Apprenticeship. The typical qualifications gained at each level are:

  • Level 2 (Intermediate level) NVQ, BTEC, Certificate and Diploma (QCF)
  • Level 3 (Advanced level) NVQ, BTEC, Certificate or Diploma (QCF)
  • Level 4 and 5 (Higher level) HNC/HND, Fd
  • Level 6 and 7 (Degree level) BSc, Ba, BEng, CILEx, CFA etc

How much time will the apprenticeship take up?

You are expected to undertake 20% ‘off the job (OTJ)’ training during your apprenticeship. This may be attending classes or training within the workplace. How training works will vary with course and training provider.

What is off-the-job training?

Off-the-job training, is training that is:

  • Carried out outside of normal working duties, and covers practical, work-based learning along with technical and theoretical learning.
  • Must teach new knowledge, skills and/or behaviours that will contribute to the successful achievement of an apprenticeship.
  • Measured over the course of an apprenticeship and must take place during employed time.
  • Training outside of working hours cannot be counted towards off-the-job training.
  • Can take place at an employer’s workplace or off-site. It is the activity, rather than the location, that determines whether an activity satisfies the funding rules (it is possible to be undergoing training activities outside of normal working duties while physically at your normal workstation).
  • Distance learning (as part of a part of a blended approach) can be used effectively as part of the 20% off-the-job training.
  • English and maths must be on top of the 20% off-the-job training.

Will my department be liable for costs if they can’t complete the apprenticeship?

No. If the staff member must withdraw from the apprenticeship the costs will still be covered by the levy.

How will training work?

How training works will vary with course and training provider. Common examples are detailed below.

  • Day release – 1 day per week in training, 4 days per week at employer
  • 100% Workplace - assessor visits workplace
  • Block release - 1 week every 3 months

Are the apprenticeships only for Exeter based staff?

No. We have staff doing apprenticeships remotely through online providers (including UoE) and with non-Devon based colleges (e.g., Truro College). However, some apprenticeships are only delivered by a limited number of providers and there may be issues finding one that fits your geographical needs.

What contract rights will the Apprentice have?

The apprentice will remain a University of Exeter employee with the same rights, terms and conditions, responsibilities and obligations as before. However, a temporary variation to contract will be supplied to acknowledge the new working arrangement.

Would an apprentice's leave/holiday requests need to be checked by the training provider before approving?

The apprentice will need to attend all the training providers’ college/classroom days. Therefore, if an apprentice is requesting holidays the dates should be checked against the required attendance days. If in doubt you should check with the skills tutor or your training provider contact.

What are the key features of an apprenticeship?

Training is a combination of on the job and off the job. The training provided depends on the sector and skill levels of the apprentice. There's considerable variation across the devolved nations of the UK but they all comprise core elements: a competence-based element, a knowledge-based element, and transferable or functional skills.

  • Transferable skills - These skills are variously referred to as functional/key skills, core skills, or essential skills, but all these terms describe a core set of skills that people need in today's workplaces. They include English, maths, and information and communications technology (ICT) using practical applications.
  • Competence - The competence (technical skills) aspects of the apprenticeship are usually based on National Occupational Standards and are completed in the workplace.
  • Knowledge - The knowledge part of the apprenticeship covers the technical knowledge and theory that is relevant to the practical skills an apprentice will develop in their job role.
  • Employee rights and responsibilities - An apprentice should be told about their rights as an employee – what they are entitled to expect and what their obligations are to their employer and colleagues. This is mandatory in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Personal learning and thinking skills (PLTS) (England) or wider key skills (Wales) - These are the skills that help an apprentice to succeed at work as independent enquirers, creative thinkers, team workers, reflective learners, self-managers, and effective participators.

How are apprenticeship qualifications delivered?

Apprenticeships are delivered in a variety of ways depending upon the apprenticeship type: Workshop based (practical skills) - Most training providers are flexible and will work around the model that best suits the business.

  • Day release – 1 day per week in training, 4 days per week at employer
  • 100% Workplace - assessor visits workplace
  • Block release - 1 week every 3 months
  • Apprenticeship Standards - Apprentices (signed up to an apprenticeship standard) must spend at least 20% of their time doing guided learning with their training provider. This may not mean they are out of the workplace as the training could be delivered at the workplace.
  • Apprenticeship Frameworks - Apprenticeship frameworks delivery differs from Apprenticeship Standards as the "20% off the job" training rule does not apply to them. Typically, these are delivered one day a week for a number of weeks. The apprentice then has the remaining duration of their apprenticeship to complete the NVQ associated with their chosen course.

During their time conducting off-the-job training the apprentice will be learning skills and knowledge that directly relates to their occupation and will therefore be able to put their new skills into practice the very next day. This means they will become more and more productive and will be able to complete tasks more quickly and efficiently as time progresses.

We are really keen to utilise the levy to develop existing employees and the biggest sticking point is the 20% off the job?

An apprenticeship is one of many programmes on the market. Other programmes may be a better fit for an individual or an employer but where an apprenticeship has been chosen as the best option, then the funding rules apply and this includes the 20% off-the-job training requirement.

An individual should only be undertaking an apprenticeship if they are new to a job role or require significant new learning to undertake an existing role. If the person doesn’t need significant new skills and can perform their job without an apprenticeship, then they should not be on the programme.

Whilst we appreciate that there may be an initial loss of productivity, due to the time away from the day-job, in the longer term, the new skills that the person brings back to the workplace should compensate for this. The 20% originated in the development of the new apprenticeship standards and has now been incorporated into apprenticeship policy across the board.

In order to comply with the funding rules, each apprentice should have a commitment statement that, along with other information, outlines the programme of training that the apprentice should receive. This statement should set out how the provider intends to fulfil the 20% off-the-job training requirement. ESFA audit, will explore (through audit) whether the training offered aligns with the expected training, as set out in this statement. The ESFA does not require the creation of any new documents for the purposes of audit, they anticipate that many systems might already be in place and so they will use these existing records of an apprentice's learning. These records may include registers, timesheets, learning logs, HR or training systems that record courses (e.g., Trent).

What support does an apprentice require and what are my responsibilities as a line manager to an apprentice?

Apprentices may require some additional support; however, you can minimise the impact this has on your team resources if you plan this in from the start.  By committing to providing additional support in the short term, you will ensure long term benefits. 

Existing staff, who coach and mentor apprentices, develop skills themselves and help to develop others around them.  As a mentor, you should offer support and use your knowledge, skills and connections to help the apprentice develop in their new role.


  • Provide a contract of employment that is no less in duration than the length of the apprenticeship.
  • Work with their apprentice and the training provider to agree an individual learning plan and provide the apprentice with access to the on-the-job knowledge, skills and experience, resources and opportunities needed to achieve this apprenticeship.
  • Support the training provider to comply with funding rules and collate evidence to confirm apprentice and apprenticeship eligibility for funding.
  • Support the apprentice to manage their own learning, by ensuring sufficient off-the-job time in their normal contracted working hours (or time in lieu) to meet the requirements of this apprenticeship. This must exceed 20% of their paid working hours minus statutory holiday entitlement (of 28 days).
  • The University must enable the line manager and/or workplace mentor to support and guide this apprentice to carry out their day-to-day role and to meet the targets and timelines needed to complete the apprenticeship by the planned end date.
  • Participate in reviews with the apprentice and the training provider, providing evidence and feedback on progress at work and success in meeting apprenticeship milestones, and agree on any changes needed to the learning plan supporting the apprentice to address performance or access enhanced learning opportunities.
  • Support their apprentice to track attendance and participation to meet off-the-job learning requirements for the apprenticeship programme.
  • Inform the training provider if there are organisational or apprentice circumstance changes that will affect the completion of the apprenticeship or change the planned end date.
  • Proactively identify any issues or barriers to the successful completion of this apprenticeship and raise these quickly with the training provider and the apprentice, working to implement any action needed.
  • Raise any queries or complaints regarding the apprenticeship through the training provider's process, and to the ESFA where needed.
  • Participate in course feedback, impact assessment and evaluation to support the continuous improvement of the programme for apprentices and the University.
  • Take opportunities to promote and publicise the successful completion of the apprenticeship and the benefits of the apprenticeship programme.

The new strategy is currently under development and details will be released here shortly.