For many people, traditional education isn’t something suited to them or their career goals. Depending on your personal circumstances and needs, an apprenticeship could be a more optimal choice, providing you with paid practical experience in a workplace, as well as a qualification.
An apprenticeship is a combination of a real paid job and education, where the apprentice gets quality paid work experience and training with an employer, whilst also working towards a technical certificate and qualification, and serves as a route to employment.
Apprentices spend 20% of their working hours on “off-the-job” training which could involve studying at home, attending your training provider, college or university, or work shadowing in your workplace. The remainder of the time will be spent at your workplace gaining highly relevant experience with an employer. You may also have the opportunity to obtain Maths and English functional skills if you do not already have GCSE Maths and English.
Apprenticeships are for anyone over 16 who is not currently in higher or further education. They are for young people leaving school entering the job market for the first time, and if you are an existing employee who wishes to upskill or reskill in your organisation. They are also a great route if you are considering a career change. It is also important to note that an apprenticeship is about learning new skills. Therefore, you could apply for an apprenticeship even if you already have a Degree, as long as you are learning new skills that are different to what you already have.
The duration of an apprenticeship is for a minimum of 12 months. However, they may last between one to six years depending on the level and the course.
There are a wide range of subjects available as an apprenticeship (referred to as Apprenticeship Standards), so you can choose the ones that best suits your goals.
The qualifications required vary depending on the level of apprenticeship and the specific vacancy. For example, Level 2 (Intermediate) apprenticeships may not require any qualifications or prefer you to already have English and Maths GCSE, whereas for Higher Level or Degree Level Apprenticeships (Level 4-6), an employer may expect you to have certain ‘A’ Levels. The job advert will stipulate what qualifications the employer requires applicants to have, in the same way as for any job.
Apprentices are employees so must be paid at least the apprenticeship minimum wage for their age. If you’re 16 to 18 or in the first year of an apprenticeship, you are entitled to the apprentice rate, however if you’re 19 and over and have completed the first year of an apprenticeship, you are entitled to the national minimum wage. Apprentices also receive paid holiday and bank holidays.
Apprenticeships are funded by the government and the employer, so you do not have to pay any fees to join an apprenticeship. You may only need to pay for travel and your day-to-day expenses.
Apprenticeships are an excellent way to get hands-on experience and training with an employer, while also working towards a qualification. Many apprenticeships lead directly into a permanent job with the employer, but if not, you will have professional level work experience, a qualification, and a reference for your CV.
Apprenticeships can also be a great way to upskill with a current employer, or as a way to change careers.
Vacancies can be found through:
Different employers will have different application processes. Some may wish you to complete an on-line application form, others may wish you to send a CV and covering letter. It should be highlighted on their job advert how they would like you to apply.
If your application is successful you will be invited for an interview with the employer. This interview will be similar to regular job interviews, however if the apprenticeship is to upskill with a current employer you may not need to take part in an interview.