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Employing an architecture apprentice

Architecture apprenticeships were set up by a Trailblazer group of practices, supported by RIBA and the ARB.

There are two available architecture degree apprenticeships routes, both approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education:

Any practice can offer an apprenticeship. We've answered some of the key questions below.

What are the benefits of employing an apprentice?

There are numerous benefits of hiring an apprentice in your practice. Some of those most commonly cited are:

  • Future proofing your workforce
  • Developing the profession positively in the long term
  • Improving staff retention and developing existing staff
  • Tackling a skill shortage
  • Bringing in new ideas and vision

How is apprenticeship training funded?

As an employer, you must cover all the usual employment costs and the cost of an apprentice’s wages. You should pay them at least the National Minimum or National Living Wage for their age for all their hours spent at your practice and at university. RIBA Chartered Practices are obliged to pay their apprentices at the level set by the Living Wage Foundation.

Any architecture practice can offer an apprenticeship, with funding for training and assessment costs (i.e. the tuition fees charged by university training providers) up to the funding band maximum available from the apprenticeship levy or directly from the government, who will fund up to 95% of the smaller firms’ training costs (the employer needs to pay the other 5%). Levy paying employers can also transfer unused levy funds to smaller employers.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education has set a maximum funding level of £21,000 for each apprenticeship, which means universities may charge employers a higher amount in top-up costs. If you’re based in England and pay the apprenticeship levy, you’ll pay the training costs directly to the university.

You will pay the apprenticeship levy if you're an employer with a pay bill more than £3 million each year. The government adds 10% to these funds annually. You can access these funds through the National Apprenticeship Service, where you can also advertise vacancies and search for training providers.

There are currently some incentives on offer to firms who take on new apprentices before 30 September 2021, or who take on an apprentice who has been made redundant. Employers will receive £3,000 for new apprentices of any age who join their organisation from 1 April 2021 to 30 September 2021.

The government has also put in place support for firms and apprentices affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Government authorities in each of the UK nations manage their own apprenticeship programmes, including funding for apprenticeship training. If you’re a practice with offices or operations in Scotland, Wales and/or Northern Ireland, it is worth contacting the relevant authority for more information.

Where can I find out which universities are offering apprenticeship training?

Find out which universities offer RIBA validated apprenticeship courses.

Some universities may only be able to offer places to apprentices whose employers pay the apprenticeship levy and not to smaller practices. You can contact your chosen university partner to find out more.

How do I recruit an apprentice?

You might be approached directly by people interested in undertaking an apprenticeship, or you may already have staff working for you who want to start or continue their formal training as an architect.

You could also advertise on RIBA Jobs, or on the national Find an Apprenticeship service. You can also contact your local participating university who may be able to match you up with an apprentice.

What support and commitment do I need to offer architecture apprentices?

If you employ an architecture apprentice, you must:

  • give them a contract of employment which is at least long enough to allow them to complete their apprenticeship successfully
  • pay their wages and any other usual employment costs
  • give them a job role (or roles) that enables them to gain the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need to achieve their apprenticeship
  • allow them to combine learning in the workplace with formal training outside the normal working environment (ie at university)

The Trailblazer process

Supported by RIBA, the Architecture Apprenticeships Trailblazer Group developed the standards for the Architectural Assistant and Architect apprenticeships, following an established process. The group included:

  • Chair: Foster + Partners
  • Hawkins/Brown (Architect standard sub-lead)
  • Lipscomb Jones Architects Ltd (Architectural Assistant standard sub-lead)
  • Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (Architectural Assistant standard assessment sub-lead)
  • Scott Brownrigg (Architect standard assessment sub-lead)
  • Seven Architecture (Architectural Assistant standard assessment sub-lead)
  • Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM)
  • ARUP
  • Building Design Partnership (BDP)
  • Grimshaw Architects
  • HLM Architects
  • HOK International Ltd
  • HTA Design LLP
  • Perkins + Will
  • PLP Architecture
  • Pollard Thomas Edwards
  • Purcell
  • Ryder
  • Stanton Williams
  • TP Bennett LLP

Further information

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