Apprenticeships help bring valuable skills into your business with the government's support. They’re suitable for people at any level so you can hire someone new or upskill an existing employee. You can also upskill yourself through an apprenticeship under certain circumstances

What are the benefits of hiring an accounting or payroll apprentice?

Apprenticeships are an exciting option for both apprentice and employer.

You can:

  • hire someone new or upskill an existing employee
  • put yourself on an apprenticeship if you are an employee of the business
  • employ apprentices at different levels, from school leavers and university graduates, to more mature people
  • get funding from the government to help pay for apprenticeship training
  • make NI savings on younger apprentices
  • adapt apprenticeship training according to the needs of your business and apprentice
  • use apprenticeships as a funded route into ICB membership

Accounting and payroll apprenticeships lead to ICB membership

Apprenticeships make a great alternative route into ICB membership for people who want to earn while they learn, or for employers who want off-the-job training support for their staff.

Once your apprentice has completed their end-point assessment in any of the four ICB-assessed standards, they will be eligible for exemptions from the ICB professional qualifications so they can become an ICB member straight away. 

With ICB membership your apprentice will have access to our technical, tax and legal support lines, as well as monthly technical webinars included within their membership. 

Apprenticeship ICB Qualification Exemption available Membership eligibility
Accounts/Finance Assistant (Level 2) Level 2
Certificate in Bookkeeping
Associate (AICB) 
Assistant Accountant (Level 3)

Level 2
Certificate in Bookkeeping
and partial exemption from
Level 3
Certificate in Bookkeeping and Accounting

Associate (AICB) with a fast-track route to Member (MICB) after one further on-demand bridging exam
Payroll Administrator (Level 3)

Level 2
Certificate in Payroll Administration
Level 3 
Diploma in Payroll Management

Payroll Agent / PM.Dip
Payroll Assistant Manager (Level 5) Level 2
Certificate in Payroll Administration
Level 3 
Diploma in Payroll Management
Payroll Agent / PM.Dip


How much does it cost?

You can get help from the government to pay for apprenticeship training.

The amount you get depends on whether you pay the apprenticeship levy or not. You pay the levy if you’re an employer with a pay bill over £3 million each year.

As an employer that doesn’t pay the apprenticeship levy, you pay just 5% towards the cost of training and assessing an apprentice.

The government will pay the rest up to the funding band maximum. You’ll pay the training provider directly and agree on a payment schedule.

If you employ fewer than 50 employees, the government will pay 100% of the apprenticeship training costs up to the funding band maximum for apprentices aged:

  • 16 to 18
  • 19 to 24 with an education, health and care plan provided by their local authority or has been in the care of their local authority

If you exceed the funding band maximum, you’ll need to pay all the additional costs.

You can find out each of the funding bands for the ICB-assessed accounting apprenticeships on our website here:

> Apprenticeships

Incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice

Employers can apply for a payment of £3,000 for new apprentices of any age who have an employment start date of 1 October 2021 to 31 January 2022. These apprentices must also have an apprenticeship start date of 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022.

Applications close 15 May 2022.

The incentive payment is in addition to the £1,000 employers already receive for hiring an apprentice:

  • aged 16 to 18 years old
  • aged 19 to 24 with an education, health and care plan or who has been in the care of their local authority

Find out more about financial incentives for hiring a new apprentice or how apprenticeships are funded.

Hire an apprentice who has been made redundant

You can also use a new government service to help you hire apprentices who have been made redundant.

Many of these apprentices may already have the skills and knowledge you need. Hiring a new apprentice in this way could mean you have a work-ready apprentice who can quickly add value to your business, shortening the time you’ll see a return on your investment.

It also means you are supporting an apprentice to complete their training and achieve their apprenticeship.

If you hire an apprentice that has been made redundant, you can apply for incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice.

Paying your apprentice

You’re responsible for paying your apprentice for their normal working hours and any training they do as part of the apprenticeship.

You must pay them at least the National Minimum Wage rate depending on their age and the year of apprenticeship training they’re in.

The rates from April 2020 are:

ApprenticeUnder 1919 to 2021 to 2425 and over
In 1st year £4.15 £4.15 £4.15 £4.15
Have completed 1st year £4.15 £6.45 £8.20 £8.72


Paying employer National Insurance contributions

Employers may not need to pay Class 1 National Insurance contributions for an apprentice, if the apprentice is:

  • under 25 years old
  • on an approved UK government apprenticeship standard or framework (for example any of the four ICB-assessed accounting apprenticeships)
  • earns less than £967 a week (£50,270 a year)

The apprentice, as an employee, will continue to pay Class 1 insurance contributions through their salary, this will only benefit the employer.

Read HMRC's guidance on paying National Insurance contributions.

Find a business to fund your apprenticeship costs

Large levy-paying businesses who pay the apprenticeship levy can pledge up to 25% of their unspent levy funds to a business of their choice.

You can apply to receive a transfer of funds to cover 100% of your apprenticeship training and assessment costs (up to the funding band maximum).

You can view all live pledges using our public website. Read our guidance on GOV.UK for further information on how to apply.

Our small and medium-sized businesses are the cornerstone of our economy, and so I'm thrilled that we're making it easier for them to taken on apprentices.
- Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak


Recruiting an accounting apprentice

Whilst you can use an apprenticeship to up-skill existing staff, you may decide to hire someone new and put them on an apprenticeship.

Before you do this, you'll need to think about the right person for you and the benefits they can bring to your organisation.

Most apprenticeship training providers can help you recruit an apprentice. 

You need to think about:

  • The salary offer – is it competitive, and will it go up over time?
  • How much experience does your candidate need – they may have none
  • Why would they want to come and work for you?
  • What will you say when they ask about their future career prospects with you?

There are resources to help you find the right apprentice. You could:


Finding an ICB-accredited Apprenticeship Training Provider

Apprenticeships are a partnership between the employer and the training provider. The very best training providers will have a hands-on approach from recruitment through to graduation and beyond.

An ICB-accredited apprenticeship training provider may also be able to help with:

  • Recruiting the right apprentice for you
  • Customising the apprenticeship to the needs of your apprentice and your business
  • Making sure your apprentice is working in an appropriate environment
  • Finding the right pace of learning for your apprentice
  • Working with you to make sure your apprentice is learning the right skills in their job

Find a list of ICB-accredited apprenticeship training providers here


End-Point Assessment 

Once the apprenticeship training is completed an independent End-Point Assessment (EPA) will take place.

ICB is an End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) for:

The EPA is the apprentice’s opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned throughout the duration of their apprenticeship.

When your apprentice successfully completes their apprenticeship and EPA, they will be awarded a certificate. ICB will request the certificate on your behalf.


Conclusion - taking on an accounting apprentice step-by-step

  1. Choose one of the ICB-assessed accounting apprenticeship standards here

  2. Find an ICB-accredited training provider here

  3. Work with your training provider to recruit an apprentice or discuss up-skilling yourself or an existing staff member

  4. Select your apprentice and sign an apprenticeship agreement and commitment statement. These can be found here


Any questions?

If you would like further assistance, you can:

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I chose to do an ICB apprenticeship to further my knowledge and understanding. Jo Burke, Assistant Accountant
Read Jo's apprenticeship story