Frequently Asked Questions

There are many questions regarding apprenticeships and the new standards and so we have put together the following answers for some of the questions we are frequently asked. If you have a question that we have not answered please send us your question by email to

Click on the questions below for the answers.

1. What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a training programme that takes place both on and off-the job over a minimum of 12 months. The training covers the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to be an effective and competent employee. Apprenticeship Standards specify what knowledge, skills and behaviours are required for each occupation. Apprenticeships can be a route to higher education. Apprenticeships have been designed at various levels, equivalent to GCSE to degree level.

2. Who are apprentices?

An apprentice can be any age over 16, although some apprenticeship Standards specify a minimum age of 18 years. An apprentice must hold employed status although at least 20% of their development must be off the job. The apprentice can learn and earn! Apprentices can be new recruits or industry starters or existing employees who may be experienced staff seeking to develop their skills or those transferring to a new area of work or acquiring the skills required for a promotion. Indeed, just about anyone can be an apprentice!

3. What are the new trailblazer apprenticeships?

Following the governments’ Richard Review of apprenticeships in 2012, the first employer groups, named ‘Trailblazers’ formed in October 2013 to write the new Standards of knowledge, skill and behaviours to create the workforce of tomorrow. The government produced the 2020 Vision for Apprenticeships in December 2015 and has set a target to recruit 3 million apprentices in this parliament. To encourage employers to offer more apprenticeships the government introduced a levy for employers with a wage bill of more than £3m in April 2017.

4. What is the apprenticeship levy?

The government introduced a levy for employers with a wage bill of more than £3m in April 2017. Administered through HMRC PAYE employers must pay 0.5% of their wages bill for all staff living in the UK. There is an Apprenticeship Levy allowance of £15,000 each year. The allowance reduces the amount of Apprenticeship Levy companies have to pay by £15,000 across the year. Each month the money is collected into a digital account and the company has 2 years in which to spend the money on eligible apprenticeship training. The ways in which this money can be spent is based on stringent eligibility criteria.

Since May 2017 employers have been able to use an online digital service to pay for apprenticeship training for apprentices that work for more than 51% of their time in England, the funding is taken out of the account in the form of digital vouchers. The link below provides more information on the amount of levy companies pay.

Follow this link for information

5. How can I find out if my company is paying the levy?

If your company has a wages bill of less than £3m you will not pay the levy. Your HR or payroll department will be able to provide more information.

6. My business employs people who live in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will I still pay the levy?

All companies with a wages bill of more than £3m must pay the levy, even if they have employees who live over the border in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. For apprentices that work for more than 51% of their time in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland the way that they can fund their apprentices differs in each of the devolved nations. Please look at the relevant link below:

7. Can I access apprenticeship training if my company is not paying the levy?

Yes, you can access apprenticeship training for your apprentices but you will not have a digital account. You will have to pay the first 10% of the cost of the apprenticeship training for employees aged over 19. The Government will pay the remaining 90% per cent, up to the maximum funding band for the Standard chosen.

More details on the funding for non-levy paying employers is available here.

8. How much funding do I receive for each apprentice? (England)

(England only) Apprenticeship training is defined in apprenticeship Standards, this outlines what the apprentice will have learnt by the end of the apprenticeship training. Each apprenticeship Standard has been allocated a funding band. There are 15 funding bands up to a maximum of £27,000 per Standard. Some of the funding bands have not yet been set for core standards in our sector, such as the Wastes Resources Operative and Cleaning Hygiene Operative Standards (see question 12 below). Funding bands are set as part of the approval process for the Standard.

More information is available here.

9. What can I spend the levy money on?

There are criteria as to how you can spend your digital vouchers. For example, you can only contract training providers to deliver the 20% off-the-job part of the apprenticeship training programme who are approved and listed on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP).

The government website explains the “rules” in more detail - follow this link.

10. How do I choose which apprenticeship standards are right for my apprentices and my business?

There are nearly 200 apprenticeship standards and more are being developed all the time. To identify the right standards for your workforce is complex. Just some of the factors you will need to consider are: the occupational groups within your company, the job description and the levels/grades of your employees and relate this to your business plan and business goals as well as to your recruitment and HR strategy. It will also be dependent on the amount of levy available in your digital account. You can search for standards on the Institute for Apprenticeships website or the UK Gov website.

We have listed some standards which are particularly relevant to our sector in the answer for question 12 below.

CIWM is committed to helping organisations make the most of the apprenticeship funding. Contact us on 01604 620426 or by email to discuss how we can help you.

11. Who can provide apprenticeship training?

To use your levy (digital vouchers) you must use a training provider who is approved by the Education and Skills Funding Agency and who is listed on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP). As an employer you can become an apprentice training provider, by joining the register yourself, or you can use external training companies.

Register as a Apprenticeship Training Provider or search for an apprenticeship training provider.

12. What apprenticeship standards are relevant to the waste and resource sector?

When considering what standards are applicable for your organisation it is important to think about the wide range of activities your team carry out as well as the Standards which cover specific content for our sector. All waste and resource management businesses will need skills in customer service, management and leadership as well as those with sector specific skills.

You can search through all the standards here

Apprenticeships covering general business skills which are available now include:

  • Customer service practitioner ST0072
  • Team leader / supervisor ST0384
  • Operations / departmental manager ST0385
  • Business Administrator ST0070

The following new trailblazer Standards are of relevance to the waste and resource sector and available now:

  • Facilities Management Supervisor ST0170
  • Facilities Management (Degree) ST0410
  • Facilities Management ST0484

In November 2018 the level 2 Waste and Resource Operative apprenticeship standard (ST0545) was approved for delivery. The trailblazer group are now seeking input from employers who would like to be part of an implementation group. Those interested should contact for more information.

These include:

  • Metal Recycling General Operative ST0507
  • Facilities Services Operative ST0617
  • Environmental Manager (degree) ST0576

13. What will my apprentice do during their apprenticeship?

The apprentice will undertake training based on the Standard which covers the Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours specified for that occupation. Training can happen at any time during normal office hours but at least 20% of the apprentice's working time must be spent in off the job training. This is the equivalent to one day per week for an apprentice employed five days a week. The training is provided by an approved training provider (see question 11 above). Some training providers deliver the training in blocks, rather than by a day a week. Every few months you will need to meet with your apprentice and their training provider to discuss their progress. Your training provider will arrange and monitor this for you. In addition to choosing a training provider you must also select an End Point Assessment Organisation who will complete the final assessment for your apprentice. Your training provider will ensure that your apprentice is ready for their final assessment.

14. What is End Point Assessment and the ‘gateway point’?

End Point Assessment (EPA) is the independent and objective assessment carried out after your apprentice has completed their training. The Gateway Point is the point at which your apprentice is ready for end point assessment. When your apprentice has met all the requirements of the relevant Standard and after a minimum of 12 months of training, you and your training provider sign off the apprentice as being ready for gateway. Some standards require that the apprentice achieves a qualification or other mandatory training prior to undertaking their EPA. Apprentices must also have completed relevant English and maths qualifications.

15. Where can I find out more about apprenticeships?

The government has an apprenticeship employer helpline which can answer queries.


Telephone: 0800 0150 600

CIWM is committed to helping organisations make the most of the apprenticeship funding. Contact us on 01604 620426 or by email to discuss how we can help you.

The following is a list of useful links:

For more information on apprenticeships visit our Frequently Asked Questions page
or contact us on or 01604 620426.