Recruiting an apprentice

The Recruitment Freeze and Redeployment Protocol applies to Apprenticeship recruitment as to any other post. Please ensure you have followed the protocol before commencing any recruitment.




Apprenticeship Recruitment: Step by Step guide

Apprenticeships support the development of a skilled workforce to aid our world leading teaching and research activity. All apprenticeship training is funded through the University’s Apprenticeship Levy.

If you are thinking of hiring an apprentice, please get in touch with the Apprenticeships Team to discuss your requirements. We can offer advice and support at every stage.


  1. Sign up to an information session
    If you are considering recruiting a new entrant apprentice, please sign up to one of our monthly apprenticeship information sessions to learn more.
  2. Develop a job description
    We have developed a range of apprenticeship specific documents including template job descriptions and adverts. The job description will set out the duties and the skills required for the role. Consider which apprenticeship course may be suitable for this role.
  3. Contact the apprenticeships team
    Once you have a draft job description, contact the Apprenticeships Team who will then help to identify a suitable apprenticeship course and find a training provider. The team will put you in direct contact with the provider(s) to discuss the course and your role in more detail.

    As part of this discussion, you should consider how the provider can support your shortlisting process (see step 6 for more details on this) and the interview process.

  4. Decision time
    Following this meeting, if you decide to go ahead with recruiting an apprentice, please inform the apprenticeships team and send through a draft advert for the role. The apprenticeship team will review this and make any recommended changes for your approval. At this point you will also need to confirm your final job description with the training provider.

    If you haven't done so already, inform your HR department of your decision as they will need to manage the recruitment process.

  5. Advertise
    Once the training provider, apprenticeship team and recruiting manager/HR have approved the advert and job description, the vacancy is ready to go live. Recruitment to apprenticeship vacancies will be managed through CoreHR, using a customised Apprenticeship application form. Please refer to the Apprenticeships scenario factsheet guide for using HRIS/Core. For advice on setting up the vacancy, please contact the Apprenticeships Team.

    (Please note: you now have the option to ask two additional questions in the application form. These should be checked by the apprenticeships team before adding.)

    Once the vacancy is live, share the link with both the apprenticeships team and the training provider to advertise with their networks and on the Government Apprenticeship website.

  6. Shortlist
    Speak with the training provider to agree the most suitable way to shortlist applicants.

    We recommend that on a weekly basis (or once the vacancy has closed), your department will undertake an initial shortlist of applicants and contact those who are unsuccessful. These applicants are sent to the training provider to check apprenticeship eligibility.

  7. Selection
    Once eligibility has been confirmed by the training provider, you will review the shortlist and select candidates to interview. You may wish to ask the training provider to sit on the interview panel, or to assist with other selection methods.
  8. Appoint
    Once you have completed the selection and identified your chosen candidate(s), please inform the apprenticeships team and training provider of the outcome.

    You will need to draw up an Apprenticeship employer contract and an Apprenticeship learner agreement (both of which can be found in the Templates tab). The Apprenticeship team can help to complete these documents.

  9. Update apprenticeship UDF
    Following guidance from the Apprenticeships scenario factsheet, you will need to update the UDF details for the apprentice(s) on CoreHR.
  10. Starting the apprenticeship
    Once your apprentice has started in their post, they will be invited to an induction with the apprenticeships team. The training provider will correspond with the apprentice's line manager to make sure the apprentice is set up on their course and has completed any relevant documents.

Useful templates

The University's Apprenticeships Guidelines and template versions of the following documents are available for download:

  • Apprenticeship Advert

  • Apprenticeship Job description

  • Apprenticeship Contract

  • Apprenticeship Learner Agreement




Budgeting for an apprentice

Apprenticeships are coordinated by the central HR team and are funded by the Apprenticeship Levy which means there are no additional costs to departments for the training.

Details of how the Apprenticeship levy works can be found the Government website.


Additionally, your department will normally be responsible for the following:

  •     Provision of the relevant books and equipment that the apprentice needs
  •     Travel expenses incurred by the apprentice to attend their training course(s) (when these are over and above the costs of their normal travel to work)


There is an agreed salary progression framework that applies to all apprentices (except for existing staff on Apprenticeship training). As with all University employees, the Apprenticeship scale meets the Oxford Living Wage.

Upon Completion

Apprentices are appointed on a fixed-term contract, which matches the length of their apprenticeship(s). At the end of the fixed-term contract, you may wish to appoint the apprentice directly into a role in your department if a suitable opportunity is available. Alternatively, you may wish to provide support in finding other employment or training.

We encourage you to consider progression opportunities for apprentices as part of your strategic planning and budgeting. 

Please refer to the Apprenticeship guidelines for more information.


Training for supervisors


On-the-job training is an integral part of apprenticeships. This may be delivered by the apprentice's line manager or other members within the team. Supervising apprentices can be a rewarding experience and offers professional development opportunities.


It is also really useful for an apprentice to have a mentor from outside their immediate team. A member of staff who has previously been an apprentice is ideal for this role. 

Basic information about the mentoring role can be found in the Mentoring Guidelines.



The University Apprenticeships Team organises regular training sessions for apprentice mentors and supervisors.

The sessions are delivered by external professional trainers, and are available at minimal cost. Any employee involved in supporting an apprentice in this way is strongly encouraged to attend this training.

Please check our Eventbrite page or contact the Apprenticeships Team for further details or to be notified about future sessions. 



Off-the-job (OTJ) training is a statutory requirement for an English apprenticeship. All apprentices are required to spend at least 20% of their time on off-the-job training. However, this doesn't mean they won't be working during this time - in fact, they don't even need to leave the office! OTJ training refers to any activity relevant to the job but not covered by day-to-day tasks. Department of Education guidelines on OTJ training state, "It is the activity, rather than the location that determines whether the training meets the funding rules definition".

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) defines OTJ training as: received by the apprentice, during the apprentice’s paid hours, for the purpose of achieving their apprenticeship. It is not training delivered for the sole purpose of enabling the apprentice to perform the work for which they have been employed. Off-the-job training must be directly relevant to the apprenticeship framework or standard, teaching new knowledge, skills and behaviours required to reach competence in the particular occupation.


OTJ training activities may include:

  • The teaching of theory (for example: lectures, role playing, simulation exercises, online learning or manufacturer training)
  • Practical training: shadowing, mentoring, industry visits and attendance at competitions
  • Learning support and time spent writing assessments / assignments


Below are a selection of the most common questions that employers may have about OTJ training. More questions and answers are available in the following document produced by the Department of Education: Off-the-job training: policy background and examples

Expand All

An apprenticeship is a work-based programme. The training is required to help the apprentice become fully occupationally competent in the workplace. Therefore, it is reasonable that the apprenticeship should be delivered during the apprentice’s working hours. It is not appropriate, and would be unfair, to expect an apprentice to undertake the apprenticeship in their own time, in addition to their job role. The delivery of the apprenticeship content is flexible. It is up to the employer and the training provider to decide at what point during the apprenticeship the training is best delivered. This could be a proportion every day, one day a week throughout, one week out of every five or some other variation. This will depend on what is best for the organisation and the apprentice.

Yes, there is no differential based on the level of the programme. At levels 2, 3 and 4 some employers are arguably more accustomed to a day-release type of model, which equates broadly to the 20% minimum. The eligibility criteria for the apprenticeship programme is the same regardless of level, i.e. that the individual requires significant upskilling to be occupational competent. Therefore the input of training, and how and when it is delivered, is also the same, regardless of the level of apprenticeship.

An individual will only be engaged in off-the-job training if they are an apprentice, and they should only be an apprentice if the employer has agreed that they require significant new learning (which meets the minimum threshold) to be able to perform their job effectively. If the individual does not require this level of training and can perform their job adequately without it, then they should not be engaged on an apprenticeship.

For those that are engaged on an Apprenticeship there may be an initial loss of productivity, due to the time the apprentice is engaged in training, but in the long term, the new skills that the person brings back to the workplace, which makes them fully occupationally competent, should compensate for this. An apprenticeship is one of many programmes on the market and a different programme may be a better fit for an individual or their particular employment circumstances, e.g. those that require a smaller amount of training or those where the employer cannot commit to the amount of training time to be delivered within working hours.

Apprentices are not expected to do extra (unnecessary) hours, but they still have to do a minimum of 20% off-the-job training. For example, if the apprenticeship requires a level 2 and a level 3 qualification and the individual already had the level 2, then the training provider should recognise this as prior learning. In doing so they are reducing the cost and the duration of the apprenticeship (as the apprentice now only requires the level 3 qualification).

The new (reduced) duration must still meet the minimum training duration threshold of 12 months. Of this new (reduced) duration, 20% of the working hours for this period should be spent on off-the-job training. The apprentice is still doing the minimum 20% off-the-job training (albeit against a reduced timeframe) and their previous learning has also been taken into account.