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The Ultimate Dictionary of Apprenticeship Terms For Employers

Apprenticeships are a relatively new concept for many businesses, particularly since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in 2017. There are core components that need to be understood by employers like Standards, End-Point Assessments and Vendor Certifications

 Discover customisable IT apprenticeships with Firebrand

Over the years, we've noticed a number of misconceptions around what an apprenticeship is, the expectations of employers, and who the individuals that make up the apprenticeship programme are.

This blog post serves as a holistic Apprenticeships glossary - one that defines each apprenticeship term in plain English. Bookmark this post and come back to it whenever you need to over the course of your journey as an apprentice employer.


Additional Payment

An additional payment is a payment from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) towards the additional cost associated with training if at the start of their apprenticeship an Apprentice is:
  • aged between 16 and 18 years old (or 15 years of age if the Apprentice’s 16th birthday is between the last Friday of June and 31 August); or
  • aged between 19 and 24 years old and has either an Education, Health and Care (ECH) plan provided by their local authority or has been in the care of their local authority

Advanced Apprenticeships

An Advanced Apprenticeship is a Level 3 qualification and holds the equivalent educational level to an A level. Advanced Apprenticeships include:


The term 'apprentice' may seem obvious, however there are some technicalities. Officially (according to the ESFA), an apprentice is any employee who meets the Funding Agency eligibility criteria and who the training provider has agreed to register (or has registered) for an apprenticeship programme.

Hiring someone as an apprentice does not automatically entitle an employer to pay 'low wages'. In fact, apprentices enrolled on Firebrand's programmes typically earn between £200 - £250 per week (50% higher than the minimum wage for apprentices).


An apprenticeship is a job with training and development, where an individual learns new skills and gains industry-recognised qualifications in a specific job role.

Apprenticeships can be delivered to new and existing employees, as long as the individual holds a qualification at a lower level than the apprenticeship they are undertaking. Individuals may still be eligible if the previous qualification is materially different to the apprenticeship (in Firebrand's case, unrelated to IT or computer science).

Apprenticeship Assessment Organisation

All apprenticeship standards must contain an End Point Assessment, assessed by an organisation independent from training providers, apprentices and employers. The assessor ensures that each apprentice following the same Apprenticeship Standards are assessed consistently.

View the full list of end-point assessment organisations here.

Apprenticeship Completion Certificate

An Apprenticeship Completion Certificate is the certificate issued in accordance with the Funding Agency guidelines. The ASCL Act 2009 requires that apprentices must apply for their Apprenticeship Completion Certificate.

Apprenticeship Levy

The Apprenticeship Levy is the levy on UK employers to fund new apprenticeships. It is a government initiative introduced in 2017, changing the way apprenticeships are funded in the UK. There are four things employers need to know:
  1.     Employers with a UK wage bill of at least £3 million will pay a monthly levy bill;
  2.     The levy is charged at a rate of 0.5% of an employer’s annual wagebill;
  3.     Employers will see and control their levy payments in a digital account, where they can spend their funds on apprenticeship training; and
  4.     Each employer will receive an allowance of £15,000 to offset against their levy payment
Learn more about the Apprenticeship Levy here

Apprenticeship Programme

An apprenticeship programme is a generic term meaning a programme of on- and off-the-job training and Assessments provided by apprenticeship training providers for apprentices, consisting of a list of competencies and qualifications leading to achieving an Apprenticeship Standard.

Apprenticeship Service (formerly the Digital Apprenticeship Service)

The Apprenticeship Service (AS) is a digital interface to services designed to support the uptake of apprenticeships.

The AS can be accessed here: www.manage-apprenticeships.service.gov.uk

Apprenticeship Sub-Contracting

For non-Levy contracts, this is an arrangement between a Prime (contract holder) who decides to attribute a proportion of their funding to a partner organisation (the sub-contract holder).

For Levy contracts, apprenticeship sub-contracting refers to the relationship between a main provider who sub-contracts an element of the service (for example specialist training) to a third party.

Main and employer-providers can sub-contract to the following:
  •     Small providers with cumulative contracts of less than £100,000 per year
  •     Specialist and/or supporting providers on the Register of Approved Training Providers (RoATP), up to a threshold of £500,000 per year
  •     Main providers on the RoATP
  •     A connected company (as defined by HMRC), who are on the RoATP (unless contracting less than £100,000)

Apprenticeship Standards

The Standard is a simple Government-approved document outlining the typical definitions, job roles, programme lengths, competencies and entry requirements of an apprenticeship occupation. Similar to job specification, it’s geared towards learners, employers and peers as a way of simplifying the apprenticeship process.

Standards are developed by employers and include a requirement for external End Point Assessment. Read the full up-to-date list of Apprenticeship Standards here: www.gov.uk/government/collections/apprenticeship-standards#digital-standards-

Apprenticeship Standards will replace Apprenticeship Frameworks by 2020. Firebrand has been instrumental in the development of Digital Apprenticeship Standards alongside working with a group of more than ten employers (called Trailblazers) made up of large organisations and SMEs to develop the apprenticeship standards for digital industries.

Apprenticeship Training Provider

Apprenticeship training providers (like Firebrand Training) are private and public organisations that are approved to deliver apprenticeship training for employers using the Apprenticeship Service.

A training provider can hold one of three provider statuses: ‘main provider’, ‘employer provider’ and ‘supporting provider’.



Where apprenticeship training in England is not funded from an Employer’s Digital Account, either because the employer is either non Levy-paying or the Levy-paying employer has insufficient funds in their Digital Account, the employer must pay 10% of the training cost. This is known as the Co-investment.


Degree Apprenticeships

A Degree Apprenticeship is a Level 6-7 qualification and holds the equivalent educational level to a bachelor's or master's degree.

Digital Account

The area of the Apprenticeship Service where employers can manage their funding and apprentices, view their account balance and plan their spending.


Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is accountable for funding education and skills for children, young people and adults.

The ESFA brings together the former responsibilities of the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and Skills Funding Agency (SFA).

More information about the ESFA can be found here.

Employer Mentor

Under Firebrand Training's apprenticeship delivery model, the Employer Mentor is an employee of the employer who supports the apprentice in the workplace - this is usually the Line Manager.


Employer providers are a type of apprenticeship provider listed on the Register of Approved Training Providers that are able to deliver apprenticeship training to their own apprentices, or apprentices of their connected companies, if they will use the Apprenticeship Service to pay for apprenticeship training.

This includes delivering apprenticeship training as a sub-contractor to their own apprentices or apprentices of their connected companies.

End Point Assessment

The assessment activities carried out by a third party provider to assess an apprentice’s final competence and grade, as defined by the Apprenticeship Standard.


Functional Skills

Functional skills is a type of training that’s used to get apprentices up-to-speed on English, Maths and ICT (information and communication technology) in cases where they require support in one or more of these areas.

Functional Skills are a core part of an apprenticeship completion requirement. Apprenticeship Standards include details of the English and Maths requirements, either at the minimum level set by Government, or above the minimum level if required by the Trailblazer.

Functional Skills in English and Maths are mandatory for all apprentices who don’t hold GCSEs in these subjects and, in the case of ICT, where the apprenticeship Standard specifies it as a requirement.

Apprentices with the relevant A-C GCSE grades are exempt from undertaking the Functional Skills requirement set out in a framework.


Higher Apprenticeships

A Higher Apprenticeship is a Level 4-7 qualification and holds the equivalent educational level to a foundational degree and above.

Higher Apprenticeships include:
    Information Systems Business Analyst
    Cybre Intrusion Analyst
    Cyber Security Technologist
    Cyber Security Technologist (Risk Analyst)
    Network Engineer
    Software Developer
    Software Tester
    Unified Communications Troubleshooter
    Data Analyst
    Web Developer


    Intermediate Apprenticeship

    An Intermediate Apprenticeship is a Level 2 qualification and holds the equivalent educational level to a GCSE.


    Liability Costs

    The amount that an apprenticeship employer will pay to a training provider if an apprentice leaves their programme before completing their End-Point Assessment. The amount to be paid is based on how much funding the training provider has received up to that point, versus what they have spent across the programme.


    Main Apprenticeship Provider

    Main providers are a type of apprenticeship provider listed on the RoATP and are able to:
    • deliver apprenticeship training to employers that will use the apprenticeship service to pay for apprenticeship training
    • deliver apprenticeship training to their own apprentices, or apprentices of their connected companies’, if they will use the apprenticeship service to pay for apprenticeship training
    • deliver apprenticeship training as a subcontractor

    Minimum Wage

    Apprentices were originally excluded from the national minimum wage (NMW) but, in October 2010 an apprentice rate was introduced for apprentices under 19 or in the first year of their employment.

    The rate is £3.50 per hour for under 19s, or individuals in their first year of an Apprenticeship. If an apprentice is 19 or over and past their first year they receive the rate that applies to their age.  For more details on the national minimum wage, visit the website at www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates.

    We recommend an apprentice starting salary of £200 - £250 per week, and to cover any expenses such as travel to the training centre. We also recommend that you review your apprentice's salary as they pass exams or complete courses and take on extra responsibility.

    All apprentices must be paid at least the Apprenticeship National Minimum Wage relevant to their age. Existing employees that become an apprentice would maintain the same terms and conditions of employment, with the addition of the Apprenticeship Agreement.


    National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

    The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) supports the delivery of apprenticeships and traineeships in England.

    NAS works with businesses of all sizes to analyse training needs, identify relevant apprenticeships and the best way of providing the training for their apprentices.


    Occupational Brief

    An Occupational Brief outlines the specific knowledge, skills and behaviours that an apprentice should learn throughout their apprenticeship. It is aimed at the training provider delivering the apprenticeship or building the apprenticeship programme.


    Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills. They inspect and regulate services that care for children and young people in addition to services providing education and skills for learners of all ages - like apprenticeship training providers.

    According to Christopher Jones, HMI Specialist Advisor on Apprenticeships at Ofsted, they are looking for evidence that "employers and providers have structured their training programmes to ensure that apprentices can achieve the very best of their potential," .

    Ofsted are in the process of inspecting apprenticeship training providers like Firebrand under the new changes to the system, such as Standards, Off-The-Job training and End-Point Assessment.


    OneFile is a Learning Management System which provides a number of services. As a training provider, Firebrand uses it as an ePortfolio system which captures the full learning journey of the apprentice.

    Tasks can be set, progression plans built, reviews added, journals and feedback captured. It's visilble to the apprentice, their Employer Mentor, their Learning Mentor and their Internal Quality Assessor (IQA).


    Ofqual is the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation. They are the regulating body for qualifications, exams and tests in England.

    All Knowledge Standards on Firebrand's programmes have been Ofqual-regulated.


    Progress Review

    A progress review is a meeting with a representative of Firebrand, the employer and apprentice in order to agree and formally record progress and the future steps needed to ensure the apprentice successfully completes their Apprenticeship Programme. This formal review must take place at least every 12 weeks.


    Register of Approved Training Providers (RoATP)

    The Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP) is a list of organisations that have demonstrated the capability to deliver apprenticeship training through an online application.

    Organisations that are listed on the RoATP have been through an application process with the SFA that considers due diligence, capability, quality and financial health to assess their capability to deliver high quality apprenticeship training.

    Firebrand Training is currently listed on the RoATP.

    Register of End-Point Assessment Organisations (The Register)

    The register of End-Point Assessment Organisations is a list of organisations that have been assessed as being suitable to conduct independent end-point assessment of apprentices and be in receipt of public funds.

    Although a number of different people and organisations may be involved in an apprentice's end-point assessment, only the independent organisation needs to apply to  and be listed on the register.

    The register can be accessed here: www.gov.uk/government/collections/register-of-apprentice-assessment-organisations


    Self-Assessment Report (SAR)

    All apprenticeship training providers are required to complete a Self-Assessment Report (SAR) every 12 months. This is to ensure training providers are checking the health of their own delivery.

    Supporting Providers

    Supporting providers are a type of apprenticeship provider listed on the Register of Approved Training Providers that are able to enter into apprenticeship subcontracting arrangements that total up to £500,000 per year (the aggregation of all contracts they will hold with providers or employer providers for apprenticeship delivery).



    An Apprenticeship Trailblazer is made up of a group of employers who work together to design new apprenticeship Standards for occupations within the sectors they work in.

    Each Trailblazer group should include a wide range of employers (at least 10) committed to being involved in the development of the Standard. Each Trailblazer group is supported by a representative from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

    Training Material

    The learning materials provided by training providers to support apprenticeship programmes, including printed manuals, books, electronic media and online tuition.


    UK Provider Reference Number (UKPRN)

    When an apprenticeship training provider is registered on the UK Register of Learning Providers, they have been verified against a recognised legal source.

    UK Register of Learning Providers (UKRLP)

    The UK Register of Learning Providers is a 'one-stop' portal to be used by government departments, agencies, learners, and employers to share key information about learning providers.

    The UKRLP allows providers to update their information in one place and share this across agencies such as the Skills Funding Agency, the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and UCAS.

    More information about the UKRLP can be found here: www.ukrlp.co.uk


    Vendor Certification

    Certification provided by software vendors on completion of examinations and tests.

    As part of Firebrand's apprenticeship programmes, apprentices will sit a number of exams which they will need to pass to gain their apprenticeship qualification. Below is a list of the apprenticeship programmes that Firebrand offer, and the exams included:

    Editor's note: This post was originally published in January 2018 and will be continually updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.