On an HR apprenticeship you'll obtain a qualification tailored to the needs of your role while putting your studies into practice and earning a wage
Working in human resources involves engaging with a range of people, dealing with challenging situations and issues as they arise. You'll need a motivational attitude, approachability 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
Launched in 2017/18, you can now complete an HR apprenticeship 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. An 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, an HR apprenticeship focuses 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:
A third HR apprenticeship, for the role of HR Professional, is currently in development. This will be a degree apprenticeship delivered at Level 7, equivalent to a Masters degree.
Employers hiring HR apprenticeships
HR apprenticeships are most commonly offered as Level 3 qualifications. Some of the bigger companies offering them include:
- GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) - a three-year programme, consisting of three 12-month rotations within GSK's HR Support Centre in Uxbridge.
- Kennedys - offers its Level 3 HR Support apprenticeship in conjunction with training provider BPP, meaning it's easily accessible from any of the law firm's ten UK offices.
- 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.
- Warner Bros - offers an 18-month Level 3 HR apprenticeship in its Compensation & Benefits department in London.
Higher-level apprenticeships are less common, having only been recently launched. Many companies will have these in development, but those currently offering HR degree apprenticeships, and those in the pipeline, include:
- BAE Systems
- Boots - set to launch an HR higher/degree apprenticeship programme soon. Check their apprenticeship hub for updates.
Training providers Arch Apprentices offer HR apprenticeships at both levels, and work with a range of employers including Google and Facebook.
As an apprentice you'll be entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW), which is currently £3.70 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 if you're unsure.
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. For instance, you'll receive an annual salary of £17,200 on the Nestle higher and degree-level apprenticeships.
You won't incur any tuition fee costs on an apprenticeship - these are covered by your employer.
How to get an HR apprenticeship
The majority of employers offering HR apprenticeships will 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 at a later stage, where you may be invited to an 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.
Find out more
- Explore the range of available human resources jobs.
- If you're already at university, learn more about HR graduate schemes.
- Search graduate jobs in recruitment and HR.