How to employ an apprentice as a self-employed bricklayer

A seasoned bricklayer teaching three young apprentices

Seen as an efficient and cost-effective way to ensure practical skills are passed from generation to generation, there is a long standing tradition of apprenticeships in the construction industry. Bricklaying is certainly no exception to this.

However, the way apprenticeships work has changed over the years. From how an apprentice is hired to what a bricklaying apprentice can do onsite, a business needs to be aware of what is legally required of them before taking on this type of trainee.

In this guide, we outline how your bricklayers business can go about hiring an apprentice. We also explore what apprentices are legally able to do and what, if any, business insurance you will need to purchase before hiring.

How can apprentices help your bricklayers business?

Hiring apprentices can bring a range of benefits to small bricklayer businesses. These include:

- Cost savings
Apprenticeships offer a cost-effective way to recruit for your business. Firstly, although they require more training than qualified bricklayers that you employ, apprentices command a much smaller salary. Secondly, as a bricklayer looking to employ an apprentice, you may be able to access financial support in the form of grants to cover training costs. You can check if you are eligible for support here. By taking advantage of the cost savings hiring apprentices bring, it is much more affordable to build and grow your small business.

- Productivity and quality improvements
According to a 2020 Department of Education report on apprenticeships, 78% of employers witnessed an increase in business productivity after hiring an apprentice. A further 74% reported that the quality of their product/service improved with the help of apprentices. When it comes to bricklaying, time is money. Any potential boost in productivity that doesn’t lead to a drop in quality can only be a good thing. 

- Diversify your team
Hiring apprentices can help to diversify your business in a number of ways. From increasing the social-diversity in your workforce with hires from different walks of life to boosting business knowledge with individuals of different ages and experience levels, hiring apprentices can be a quick and efficient way of expanding your business with new skills and personality types.

What can bricklayers’ apprentices do?

As long as the correct training and supervision is provided, bricklayer apprentices can do all tasks carried out by qualified bricklayers. These tasks include building new walls, chimneys and  decorative masonry work, as well as repairing and restoring stonework and brickwork structures.

However, as a new apprentice, duties are likely to start on a small scale. Jobs employers can ask new apprentices to carry out may include:

- Basic brick/block laying
- Mixing mortar/concrete
- Checking measurements for quality control
- Measuring out materials
- Unloading and organising deliveries of materials
- Keeping the work area tidy

How much do apprentice bricklayers get paid?

As a minimum, bricklaying apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage. This amount can vary depending on the age of the apprentice you hire. However, employers often pay their apprentices more than this, especially as they progress through the apprenticeship. With this in mind, the average apprentice bricklayer in the UK earns £24,500 per year. This works out at around £12.50 an hour.

How to hire an apprentice

When it comes to actually hiring a bricklayers’ apprentice, there are five steps you as an employer will need to follow. These are:

1. Set up an Apprenticeship Service account
In order to hire an apprentice, the first thing you need to do is set up a government apprenticeship service account. This process involves providing your employer PAYE and Accounts Office reference. You will also be required to accept the terms and conditions of the UK government’s Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) employer agreement.

2. Select the relevant bricklayer training course(s)
When your account has been created, you will need to specify that it is a bricklayer training course(s) you are looking to offer to prospective apprentices. This will not only involve selecting courses you are willing to offer, but also the level of training you are able to provide.

3. Find a training provider
While you as an employer will be able to provide the practical work experience part of an apprenticeship scheme, you will need to find a training provider to carry out the classroom based learning aspect of the scheme. The easiest way to do this is to search for local providers on the Apprenticeship Service’s online portal.

4. Secure funding
As discussed above, you may be able to apply for government funding to pay for your apprentice’s training and assessment costs. As a rule, small employers will receive funds to cover 95% of an apprentice’s training and assessment costs. You may also be entitled to a £1,000 payment to support the apprentice in the workplace. This payment will be made if your apprentice is either aged 16 to 18, or aged 19 to 25 with an education, health or care plan. You may also be eligible for this if your apprentice was previously in care.

5. Advertise the role and conduct interviews
With your training provider and funding in place, it’s time to advertise your bricklayers’ apprentice role. This can be done on the ad section of your online apprenticeship service account. Once approved, this advert will be posted on the ‘Find an apprenticeship’ website. You can also talk to your chosen training provider about advertising the role locally. Finally, it can also be worth contacting trade-based websites and magazines to advertise your role.

Once a few candidates have responded to your advert, it’s time to conduct interviews. Remember, you are employing an apprentice, not a qualified bricklayer. This means it’s important you don’t expect candidates to be an expert. Instead use the interview to gauge the individual’s personality traits and enthusiasm levels. 

6. Offer the role to your chosen candidate
When you have chosen the candidate you’d like to offer the apprenticeship to, it’s time to officially offer them the role. This process will also involve creating a formal apprenticeship agreement. This document should list the length of employment and detail the specific training they will receive as part of the apprenticeship. On the back of this, a commitment statement should be signed by the apprentice, you (as the employer) and your chosen training provider. Both apprenticeship agreement and commitment statement templates can be found on the ESFA website.

Do construction apprentices need to have insurance?

Yes - employers' liability insurance is legally required for all businesses that employ any individual. This includes apprentices.

Here at Markel Direct, we offer specialist Bricklayers’ Insurance from £8 a month*. As well as providing small businesses with public liability, professional indemnity, and tools and equipment cover, these comprehensive policies also offer employers' liability insurance. If you choose to take on a bricklayers’ apprentice, this policy would ensure you are fully insured.

* Price based on a bricklayer requiring £1 million public liability insurance cover.

Business insurance from £5 a month