HR apprenticeships

Rachel Swain, Editorial manager
February, 2021

Giving you the chance to put your studies into practice while earning a wage, a HR apprenticeship allows you to gain a qualification tailored to the needs of your role

Working in human resources involves engaging with a range of people and dealing with challenging situations and issues as they arise. You'll need a motivational attitude, approachable manner and a good understanding of workplace policies and culture.

Entering the HR profession through an apprenticeship is the ideal way to gain valuable, practical experience, applying your learning as it takes place.

Types of human resources apprenticeships

HR apprenticeships are available at two levels:

  • Level 3 - HR Support Apprenticeship - equivalent to an A-level, and typically lasting 18 to 24 months, on this apprenticeship you'll use HR systems to keep records, help the business make HR changes and work in a range of areas including recruitment and retirement. A HR Support Apprenticeship is for you if you're entering the profession or are an existing member of staff looking to refresh your knowledge.
  • Level 5 - HR Consultant/Partner Apprenticeship - if you're an HR manager in a small organisation, or have leadership duties in a larger organisation, the HR Consultant/Partner Apprenticeship will boost your decision-making and influencing skills. The course runs for two to three years (or 18 months, if you've already completed the Level 3 apprenticeship) and is the equivalent of a foundation degree.

Whichever level you study at, HR apprenticeships focus on workplace-based learning. You'll also complete professional development training and spend a percentage of your time in the classroom. The apprenticeship culminates in an End-Point Assessment (EPA), where you'll have your skills, knowledge and behaviours evaluated against the relevant apprenticeship standard:

HR apprenticeships are most commonly offered as Level 3 qualifications. Companies offering them include:

  • GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) - a three-year programme, consisting of three 12-month rotations within GSK's HR Support Centre in Uxbridge.
  • Nomura - offers HR apprenticeships in five areas: HR Advisor, CAO Apprentice, HR Analyst Centre, Learning and Development and Graduate Recruitment. You'll obtain qualifications across a period of 12 to 24 months at the company's London headquarters.
  • Unilever - candidates complete an 18-month, Level 3 Business Administrator apprenticeship within HR, available at locations in Port Sunlight (near Liverpool) and across the south of England.

If you're looking for something higher level then degree apprenticeships are available at BAE Systems.

Training providers Arch Apprentices offer HR apprenticeships at both levels, and work with a range of employers including Google and Facebook.

Apprenticeship wage

As an apprentice you’re entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW), which is currently £4.15 per hour. This rate applies to those under the age of 19, and those aged 19 and over in the first year of an apprenticeship.

If you're over 19 and have completed your first year, you must be paid at least the minimum wage rate for your age. Use the GOV.UK wage calculator to check you're being paid correctly.

You'll be paid for your working hours and any training you complete as part of the apprenticeship. You'll also be entitled to at least 20 days' annual leave per year, plus bank holidays.

Despite these stipulations, salaries are set by individual employers and in many cases you'll find you're paid significantly more than the NMW.

You won't incur any tuition costs on an apprenticeship - these are covered by your employer.

How to get an HR apprenticeship

The majority of employers offering HR apprenticeships advertise them on the careers section of their website. It's likely you'll have to fill out an application form, but check with individual employers as their methods may vary.

Treat your apprenticeship application in the same way you would a job application. When preparing your CV and cover letter, research the company you're applying to and read up on relevant legislation and current affairs in HR - see CIPD - News, views and policy for resources to help you keep up to date.

Tailor your application to include evidence of examples where you've demonstrated the required competencies. Being able to market your skills in this way will be advantageous if you’re invited to interview, assessment centre or required to complete psychometric testing. In these settings, you're usually required to draw on your past experiences to give an indication of how you'll perform in the workplace.

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