CAN Training Investigates: Are Funded Apprenticeships right for your Staff?

One of the most common queries we get at CAN Training is from Residential Children’s Home Managers or Business Owners who want to understand the different funding routes available in order for their staff to achieve the Level 3 Residential Childcare Diploma. The funding options are forever changing and can seem really complicated so we thought we’d highlight some of the main differences between funded and non-funded routes and hopefully help you to consider what will work best in your organisation.

From May 2017 the face of Apprenticeships changed and one of the main changes was that Non-Levy Paying organisations (those with an annual wage bill of less than 3 million per year) were required to pay a 10% contribution to the total cost of the Apprenticeship. This was then reduced to 5% from April 2019. At the same time Apprenticeships were being changed from frameworks to ‘newly improved’ standards. With this came a significant price increase. The cost of a Residential Childcare Apprenticeship framework was £2500 so employers found themselves paying £250 per staff member and more recently £125 when the contribution was changed to 5%. The framework consisted of the Level 3 Diploma in Residential Childcare plus the requirement for Maths, English and ICT functional skills unless the staff member already had GCSE A-C.

The new standard was then introduced namely the ‘The Level 4 Children, Young People and Families Standard’ and the cost of this Apprenticeship was set at £6000 therefore employers would now be required to pay £600 per staff member (or £300 after April 2019) This is due to the fact that the standard is a Level 4. Although it does still include the mandatory level 3 Residential Childcare Diploma, there is also a requirement for additional work to evidence the staff member working at a Level 4. This is demonstrated through an End Point Assessment Process; which learners are required to pass in order to achieve their Apprenticeship. Whilst this tends not to be an issue for more experienced staff, those who are new to Residential Childcare will find the Level 4 more challenging so consideration must be made regarding staff suitability to the course. There is also the requirement for Maths and English functional skills unless learners have prior exemption.

A big stumbling block for employers however has come with the introduction of the 20% off the job training requirement. This had always been a feature with the frameworks however this is now being heavily enforced with the new standards and training providers are required to record this and ensure employers are fulfilling their duties with regards to this.

A full-time member of staff on the Level 4 Children, Young People and Families Standard will need to be away from their normal working environment for 6.5 hours per week. This means they cannot be included on their normal shift meaning another staff member would need to cover this staff members shift. Many employers have found this prohibitive as not only are they paying for the Apprenticeship (either a contribution if non-levy or the full cost if levy paying) but they are also needing to factor in the time that staff member will be ‘off the shop floor’ so to speak. Based on a £10 per hour role this would cost an organisation a further £3,380 a year per staff member on an Apprenticeship. Some employers have decided in the face of this that Apprenticeships are not best suited to their organisation and have sought other options.

So what are the alternatives?

Despite funded qualifications being initially attractive from a financial point of view it is still worth considering stand-alone diplomas purchased commercially for your staff.


  • Staff will only work on the mandatory qualification they require which is the Level 3 Residential Diploma. There are no other elements to distract or add pressure to staff
  • Staff can work at their own pace and can be certificated as soon as they complete the work which can be helpful for your OFSTED compliance requirements. With Apprenticeships learners must be on programme for 12-18 months and cannot be certificated before this even if the work is complete.
  • There is no requirement for Functional Skills which many staff find challenging and stressful.
  • There is no requirement for ‘off the job training’. Staff will complete their Level 3 Diploma whilst working on their normal shift. Their assessor will use observations, professional discussion and expert witness testimony from line managers to meet many of the requirements of the diploma.


Clearly all organisations vary in size, budgets and resources available and while the Apprenticeships work well for some, other organisations find the commercial route much more straight forward to navigate, less stressful for staff and perhaps in the long term more cost effective! 

Level 3 Residential Childcare Diploma with CAN Training currently costs £1750 which can be split over the duration of the course (usually 12 months) if necessary. This would be a cost of just £145 per month and would include face to face visits with an assessor every 8 weeks plus unlimited telephone and email support and 24/7 access to an online portfolio and resource library.

At CAN Training we pride ourselves on being specialists in Residential Childcare. We stick to what we know and all of our assessors have occupational competence and are best placed to support your staff with their Level 3 Diploma and beyond.

If you would like to discuss your requirements and seek some advice on the best route for your organisation please contact Heather or Ann at CAN Training Limited on 0800 177 7733

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