Organisational Development

Staff Apprenticeship Scheme

Learn more about the staff apprenticeship scheme and upcoming apprenticeships events.

University staff can undertake a fully-funded apprenticeship with the support of their line manager and department/division. The process may begin at any time, but your annual Achievement and Development Review is the perfect opportunity to discuss how an apprenticeship could help you to develop in your current role, or fill a skills gap within your department.

On this page, you can find out more about:


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Apprenticeships are a combination of practical training and part-time study leading to a nationally recognised qualification. They are an excellent way for individuals to earn while they learn, gaining valuable skills and knowledge in a specific job role through a mix of learning in the workplace, formal off-the-job training and the opportunity to practise new skills in a real work environment.

The apprenticeship programme must be linked to the applicant’s current role for them to succeed. However, there are exceptions; for example, if an administrator wants to complete an apprenticeship in Project Management, then their manager will need to confirm that the apprentice will receive adequate exposure and opportunities to develop their project management skills for the duration of the apprenticeship.

Further information for both staff and managers can be found in the Staff Apprenticeships Handbook [Word 297.97KB].


An apprenticeship is always a minimum of 12 months and can take between one and four years to complete, depending on the programme, the capability of the apprentice, and the industry sector.


Apprenticeship funding works under a system introduced in April 2017. Large employers whose pay bill exceeds £3 million contribute to the apprenticeship levy. This levy amount is collected by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), much like income tax and National Insurance, and these funds are set aside for apprenticeship training. When it is time to use these funds, the University taps into them through a Digital Apprenticeship Service account to pay the apprenticeship training provider.

This means apprentices and their departments do not have to worry about extra training costs. And importantly, there is no cut in the apprentice's salary because their job contract stays the same. Please note, however, that some training providers may charge for exam re-sits.

Equivalent educational levels

All apprenticeship programmes have equivalent educational levels.

Apprenticeship levelEquivalent
Level 2 (Intermediate) GCSE
Level 3 (Advanced) A-Level
Levels 4, 5, 6 and 7 Foundation Degree or higher
Levels 6 and 7 Bachelors or Masters Degree

Apprenticeship programmes

Apprenticeships are available in a huge variety of subjects at all educational levels, from GCSE through to Master's degree equivalents. If you cannot see a programme suitable for you here, please contact the Staff Apprenticeships team to find out about other available courses.

Coaching and Training
Customer Service
Project Management
IT and Digital Media

*various pathways available

Business and Finance
Team Leader or Supervisor Level 3

This apprenticeship is particularly suited to new or aspiring managers interested in developing their skills and knowledge. However, you do not necessarily need to lead a team to benefit from this programme. It would also be relevant for those with workload management or project management responsibilities.

Modules include:

  • Personal Development as a first line manager
  • Resource Planning
  • Meeting Stakeholder needs
  • Managing and communicating information
  • Identifying development opportunities
  • Management communication
  • Being a leader

View the Team Leader/Supervisor Level 3 Programme [PDF 334.14KB]

Operations or Departmental Manager Level 5

This apprenticeship is suitable for mid-level managers with approximately 4-5 years management experience. Also suitable for those with high-level workload management or project management responsibilities. This two-year programme provides advanced leadership techniques which are focused on supporting the organisation’s wider strategic objectives. It is suited to mid–senior level managers with developed experience in their field, looking to formalise their leadership and management expertise.

View the Operational/Departmental Manager Level 5 Programme [PDF 357.92KB]

Coaching Professional Level 5

This course is designed for an aspiring coach or someone looking for ways to develop existing coaching skills as a manager and leader.

View the Coaching Professional Level 5 online programme

Senior Level 7

This apprenticeship lasts for 15-18 months and is aimed at any individual moving into or working within a senior or strategic management role. You will acquire all the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to complete this Level 7 Senior Leader Apprenticeship, through focusing on the following key duties:

  • Setting overall strategic direction and encouraging employees to buy into the organisation’s vision
  • Developing operational policies and practices in line with the needs of the organisation
  • Leading projects delivering organisational strategy such as change and agile transformation programmes, diversification, new product implementation, and customer experience improvement
  • Strategic resource planning and forecasting (budgets, people, technology)
  • Crisis management and assessing the risks and opportunities affect business performance
  • Leading areas such as: people development and talent management, succession planning, workforce design, and coaching and mentoring
  • Promoting an ethical, inclusive, innovative and supportive culture that generates continuous business improvement
  • Cultivating and maintaining collaborative relationships with key senior internal and external stakeholders
  • Shaping the approach to external communications in line with organisational communications strategies
  • Promoting innovation to address changing social, economic and technological trends and developments, taking advantage of new opportunities
  • Internal and external governance compliance including framework, regulatory and statutory requirements.

View/download the Senior Leader Level 7 programme [PDF 390.56KB]

Leadership and management programmes

Our leadership and management apprenticeships are facilitated by specialist training provider, Knowledge Brief. Staff can watch a short video Introduction to KnowledgeBrief on Panopto.

Apprentice experiences

Colleagues at Sussex have gained apprenticeship qualifications in a broad range of subject areas. Read about some of their experiences. Apprenticeships can be completed in a range of subjects including but not limited to: 

  • Senior Leadership;
  • Operational and Project Management;
  • HR Consultancy;
  • Coaching; and
  • Digitial and Content Creation. 

Eleanor Cartwright, Marketing Manager, has completed a L5 Coaching Apprenticeship with KnowledgeBrief. She has said that "Overall, this opportunity has been really valuable to my career, but it’s not just about promotion. It’s also helped in my personal life, which I wasn’t expecting. I think I am now a better partner and friend on many levels". 

Sophie Heath, Change Communications Officer, is currently completing a Digital Marketing Apprenticeship. Find out how she's getting on

"The fact that the apprenticeship has been organised through my employer and I don't have to fund this qualification myself is amazingMia Difalco. Read Mia's interview about her Level 5 Human Resources apprenticeship.

"The course content has challenged me to think differently about how I get the best out of the team and myself and increased my knowledge in areas where I had not previously had a great deal of experience" - Terry Cooper is Deputy Head of Operations, Fitness and Performance at Sussexsport. Read Terry's interview about his Level 5 apprenticeship in Operational/Departmental Management.

“The apprenticeship forces you to think about how that learning can be directly applied to your role right now. It helps you develop in the role that you're in, become more effective and find new ways of thinking" - James Bluring. Read James' interview about his Senior Leader Master’s Degree apprenticeship with an MBA. 


To be eligible for apprenticeship funding, applicants must:

  • be over the age of 16
  • not be currently undertaking any other government-funded training
  • have lived in the UK, EU, or European Economic Area for the previous three years
  • have the Right to Work in the UK.

Applicants will also be required to provide copies of their GCSE certificates in maths and English or equivalent qualifications. If you have overseas Everseas maths and nglish qualifications, you can apply for a comparability statement from the UK National Information Centre (ENIC).

If you have lost your certificates dated prior to 2014, you can contact the exam board to get a replacement exam certificate or certified statement of results. You may need to prove your identity and pay a fee. For exam results dated after 2014, training providers may be able to access them via the Learning Record Service. Contact the Apprenticeships team for more details.

Applicants who have not previously achieved grades 9-4 or A*-C in GCSE English and maths (or equivalent qualifications) can still apply, but will be required to complete Functional Skills alongside their apprenticeship programme.

Do apprentices have to be employed full-time?

The minimum duration of 12 months is based on an apprentice working at least 30 hours a week, including any off-the-job training. If the apprentice works fewer than 30 hours a week, or part-time, the apprentice must agree with the training provider to extend the apprenticeship duration accordingly.

Are graduates eligible for an apprenticeship?

Yes, as long as it’s a different subject or above their degree level. A degree is a Level 6 qualification. As such, a graduate can study a suitable Level 7 apprenticeship, or undertake a Level 2-6 apprenticeship in a different subject area.

Can I do an apprenticeship if I am on a fixed-term contract?

For individuals on fixed-term contracts, the contract must cover the full apprenticeship duration, including the end-point assessment.

The application process

  1. Staff member identifies the apprenticeship programme they are interested in and meets with their line manager to agree to proceed with the application. Both parties read the relevant sections of the Staff Apprenticeships Handbook [Word 297.97KB].
  2. Staff member completes the first stage of the online application. They will receive a confirmation email with a link to share with the line manager for them to complete the second stage of the application.
  3. Staff member emails copies of their GCSE maths and English (or equivalent) certificates to
  4. Line manager completes the second stage of the application. They will receive a confirmation email with a link to share with the Director for final approval.
  5. Apprenticeships Officer books an informal meeting with the applicant and line manager to answer any questions and confirm eligibility and sustainability.
  6. Apprenticeships Officer contacts the training provider to confirm details or starts the procurement process for a new provider if necessary. They will confirm training dates, delivery method, location, end-point assessment, and funding allocation. This process can take a few months.
  7. Apprenticeships Officer introduces the training provider to the staff member for initial assessments and confirmations.

Off-the-job training

20% of the apprentice’s working hours should be allocated to off-the job training, but this is very flexible and can be day release, two half days, a few hours every day, or a block of time over the duration of the programme.

Examples of off-the-job training include:

  • Learning new skills at work by shadowing colleagues
  • Attending workshops, training days, or webinars relevant to the apprenticeship
  • Practical training in the workplace relevant to the apprenticeship, such as learning to use new software or equipment
  • Attending coaching sessions
  • Self-study including research and online learning
  • Completing mock assignments to prepare for the end-point assessment
  • Role-play or simulation exercises
  • Industry visits or conferences relevant to the apprenticeship
  • Writing assessments and completing projects and assignments.

Functional Skills

Applicants who have not previously achieved grades 9-4 or A*-C in GCSE English and maths (or equivalent qualifications) will be required to complete Functional Skills alongside their apprenticeship programme.

Functional Skills are an alternative to the GCSE route, with the flexibility to sit assessments all year round. Learning material for functional skills qualifications is based on practical and real-life situations, so Functional Skills can increase confidence and improve both daily life and work performance and productivity.

Functional Skills are funded by the apprenticeship levy and the course runs alongside the apprenticeship. These English and/or maths modules are generally delivered online for 2-3 hours per week with one subject studied at a time (until exams are achieved), and these must be completed before the end of the apprenticeship programme

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Contact and advice

Staff Apprenticeships
3rd floor, Sussex House
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9RH