An apprentice in a workshop

Apprenticeship system to be made simpler

The Government has announced that a number of improvements and simplifications to apprenticeships will come into force from August 2022.  Among the changes include plans to streamline apprenticeship courses for individuals, the introduction of standardised requirements for off-the-job training and the creation of a “more efficient payment service”.

Minister for Skills, Alex Burghart, said:

“Over the past five years, apprenticeships have been transformed into a high-quality skills programme for learners and employers. Employers have created more than 640 standards to meet their skills needs, training is delivered by registered providers that are regularly inspected, and apprentices complete rigorous end-point assessment, so employers know that they are fully competent in their role. Having reformed the apprenticeships programme, we now want to make it simpler to use for employers, training providers and apprentices themselves. To this end, apprenticeships will be further improved from August 2022.

“We have transformed apprenticeships so they offer a high-quality route into professions as diverse as engineering, healthcare, and digital for young people starting their careers, or adults hoping to retrain and upskill. We now want to focus on making the system as simple and user-friendly as possible, reducing bureaucratic burdens on employers and providers and giving apprentices the best possible experience.”

Employers currently have a number of obligations when taking on an apprentice. Apprentices must be aged 16 or over and combine working with studying to gain skills and knowledge in a specific job. Apprentices can be new or current employees. They must, during the course of their contract, work with experienced staff, learn job-specific skills, and undertake some study during their working week (for example, at a college or training organisation). Apprentices must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage, and their contract must be for at least a year, and a maximum of five years.

The apprenticeship system has come under significant criticism in the last few years, hence the need to improve. Proposed improvements include:

  • Making it simpler for individuals to accelerate their apprenticeship by placing a greater focus on provider assessment of prior learning and experience. By improving how providers take account of this at the start of their apprenticeship – and funding them to do a robust upfront assessment – apprentices will be able to cut out training they do not require and complete their apprenticeship more quickly. This means that they can spend more time in the workplace and will become fully competent sooner, boosting employer productivity and their own earnings potential.
  • Introduce a consistent baseline for off-the-job training, specifying the minimum number of hours that a full-time apprentice must spend in training. This will simplify reporting for providers and create a level-playing field among apprentices who are on the same standard but working different hours. This means that apprentices who work more than 30 hours a week will be able to spend more time on the job delivering for employers, while still getting the vital training they need to complete their apprenticeships.
  • Changing English and maths requirements for Level 2 apprentices who start with the lowest level of prior attainment in English and maths. People who start a L2 apprenticeship without L1 English and maths will no longer need to automatically attempt L2 English and Maths tests to complete their apprenticeship. It will mean that thousands of L2 apprentices can focus on securing a L1 English and Maths qualification with only those who are really ready to take the Level 2 tests attempting them.
  • Provide a more efficient payment service for providers by reducing the data needed to make payments and improving Apprenticeship Service financial reports, helping providers understand what they are being paid for each apprenticeship and why. These improvements will be tested towards the end of the year. All employers should also promptly receive their £1,000 additional support payment if they take on an eligible young apprentice.


The changes to recognition of prior learning, off-the-job training and English and maths are due to come into effect in August 2022 and are outlined in the draft apprenticeship funding rules for main providers, the draft Apprenticeship funding rules for employer-providers and the draft Apprenticeship funding rules and guidance for employers. All three documents are available on GOV.UK.