» Whats is an Apprenticeship?
» Types of Apprenticeship
» Entry Requirements
» Advantages and Disadvantages
» Whats is Typically Involved?
» Expected Salary
» How to Find the Right Apprenticeship
» Applying for an Apprenticeship
» Further Information
An apprenticeship combines work, training, and study, enabling a salary to be earnt whilst learning. It is one of the pathways that can be taken to gather to skills, knowledge and experience to get into a very wide range of career choices.
All apprenticeships include elements of on the job and off the job training, leading to industry recognised standards or qualifications. Some apprenticeships also require an assessment at the end of the programme to assess the apprentice`s ability and competence in their job role
Apprenticeships are available in over 170 employment sectors.
There are four types of apprenticeship training:
- Intermediate (Level 2 – equivalent to GCSE)
- Advanced (Level 3 – equivalent to A Level)
- Higher (Level 4, 5, 6 and 7– equivalent to Foundation degree and above)
- Degree (Levels 6 and 7 – equivalent to Bachelor’s or Master’s degree)
To be considered for an apprenticeship programme in England, applicants need to be:
- aged 16 or over
- living in England
- not in full-time education
Each level has different entry-requirements, and each apprenticeship vacancy will specify what these are, along with the qualities the employer is looking for. For higher and degree apprenticeships, employers generally ask for A levels and other Level 3 qualifications.
- The level of apprenticeship a pupil starts at will depend on the qualifications the pupil has, the job role, and apprenticeship standard the employer wants to use.
- Career progression is possible by working all the way up through the higher and degree level apprenticeships, in some job roles and career areas. It is also possible to progress onto other further or higher education courses, including degrees and postgraduate courses.
Over 70 universities, and around 200 colleges, are approved to deliver higher and degree apprenticeships.
Apprenticeships would suit someone who:
- has a clear idea of the type of career they wish to pursue
- is willing to commit to work and study, but would prefer a more practical and work-related approach to learning
- is ready to start work with an employer, and be based in the workplace most of the time
- is well organised and able to cope with the competing demands of work and academic study at the same time
- is ready to be assessed through a mix of assignments and written work, including essays, reports, practical exercises, end tests, and exams
Apprenticeships are not an ‘easy’ option. Holding down a full-time job and studying takes commitment and hard work, and will not suit everyone. An apprentice:
- must be able to prove themselves in the workplace, while getting to grips with studying for a higher level qualification.
- will be expected to achieve academically and at work, managing their time and adjusting to longer hours, with fewer holidays than at school, college, or university.
- might be required to travel or relocate to find the right opportunity.
- Apprenticeships offer a direct alternative to full-time higher education for those who would prefer to start employment.
- You can earn a wage while completing a higher education qualification, and you won't have to pay tuition or course fees.
- You will gain real knowledge, skills, and experience required for specific careers, and possibly professional accreditation.
- Your investment in high level training and study can provide a long term career path and increase your earning potential.
- Your work experience, transferable skills, and high level qualifications may leave you well placed to obtain employment in a number of related careers.
- It can be difficult to balance academic study with work commitments — good organisational skills are a must!
- Although you will study a higher education qualification, your experience of student life will be limited compared to those attending full-time courses at university or college.
- You need to have a clear idea of the type of career you wish to pursue, as this is a vocational qualification.
- There is the possibility you may have to pay back your course fees if you decide to leave your apprenticeship early.
- The initial apprenticeship wage you start on may be quite low compared to other employment, and you'll need to cover your day-to-day living costs, rent, travel costs, equipment, and materials. Tax and National Insurance contributions will come out of your salary.
At least 50% of time spent is at work, which is usually 30 hours each week, where focus will be towards on the job learning.
Typically, an apprentice works closely with someone more senior who will coach and review progress regularly. Time off will be given to study during working hours.
Time will be spent attending college, university, training provider, or training at work. The learning and part-time study element of an apprenticeship fits around the job commitment, and will be agreed with the employer. Study attendance may be one day per week (‘day release’), in blocks of a week or more (‘block release’), or online study. Some schemes use a combination.
Apprentices complete assessments during and at the end of the programme, which tests both academic learning and occupational competence developed through on-the-job training.
The standard or framework for each apprenticeship, will detail what will be taught; and the assessment plan will detail how learning and skills will be assessed
An apprenticeship salary depends on the job role, and the age of the apprentice. Those aged 16 — 19 in the first year of their apprenticeship receive at least the minimum apprenticeship wage of £3.70 per hour. Other apprentices are entitled to the minimum wage for their age. Some employers pay significantly more than this.
Many employers advertise roles with a ‘competitive salary’. This could mean the salary and benefits will be in line with similar roles for other organisations, or it depends on the skills and experience fo the apprentice.
Alongside a salary, some employers offer other benefits, including a pension, access to a car, leisure facilities, or a relocation allowance.
Key things to investigate
No matter what kind of career you want to follow, you need to do your research and find out if you can reach your career goals through an apprenticeship, or if you need/would prefer to study full-time at university or college.
- What is the apprenticeship and job role – does it fit what you’re looking for?
- Find out about the employer – is it the type of company you want to work for?
- Find out about the training provider, college, or university where you could be studying.
- What qualifications, subjects, and grades are they looking for?
- What essential/desirable skills and experience do they ask for, and what qualities are they are looking for in applicants?
- Does the job require you to work in different locations, or would you need to move away from home for work?
- What is the pay or salary, and do they offer any other benefits or facilities you can use?
- For you, what are the three most and least positive aspects of this apprenticeship or job opportunity?
You can do further research by checking out the employer’s website for any details and information you want. Remember, you can contact the employer, university, college, or training provider, if you’re considering an apprenticeship, to ask any questions you have.
Many of the UK's leading employers now offer apprenticeships. Search company websites for potential opportunities.
Vacancies can also be found on the following:
- National Apprenticeships Service
Each apprenticeship vacancy will specify how you need to apply; applications are usually made direct to the employer, through an application form, or a CV and covering letter.
When to Apply
Apprenticeship vacancies appear throughout the year; each will give a deadline for applications, and start dates. Don’t wait until the deadline to make an application, some companies close their recruitment as soon as they have a sufficient number of suitable candidates.
Vacancies with larger firms often start appearing from September, but most start to be advertised from January or February onwards. Smaller businesses might start recruiting a month or two before the job starts, so if you hope to start work in August or September, start looking from March/April onwards.
If you’re interested in working for a particular employer, take a look at their website, most have a page on careers, apprenticeships, or vacancies. If you are interested in a particular apprenticeship job role, you can filter your search for these on the vacancy listing.
Much of the above information was extracted from the UCAS and gov.uk websites (links above).