An apprenticeship offers the apprentice with the opportunity to gain new skills and experience in their chosen sector.
Apprenticeships are often completed concurrently with a college or university course. Many apprenticeships will require the apprentice to complete examinations and complete examinations to receive a vocational qualification at the end of said work; these are typically done by studying technical skills, carrying out practical assessments and by independent learning and working.
How do apprenticeships work?
When it comes to government apprenticeships, civil service apprenticeships, apprenticeships for adults or higher apprenticeships, the rules are rigorously upheld with regards to payment, however, other companies, or those who offer business apprenticeships, have been known to reimburse students a little higher for their work and time.
When it comes to apprenticeships in Scotland, the rules are similar, however, apprenticeships can be taken at age 15, where it is 16 in the UK. When it comes to apprenticeships in Wales, the apprenticeships are dependent on the course you're studying.
How do I become an apprentice?
There are a number of ways to become an apprentice and they all depend on your current circumstances. If you are already employed by a business, then ask your employer to get in touch with a company that specialises in apprentices in the sector that you’re currently working in.
Many people look for apprenticeships in different ways and there are multiple ways to do that, whether that be through speaking to the company itself, Googling “apprenticeships near me”, as a way to find apprenticeships by searching for gov.uk apprenticeships or finding them on job boards, such as Indeed apprenticeships.
Another good thing to do is to find a place of work and see if they are looking for apprentices. This, however, is a risky strategy as most employers will prefer to employ someone who already has the relevant experience and don’t require the company to pay for their qualification(s).
How long do apprenticeships last?
Apprenticeships all vary depending on the sector you’re working in, previous experience and the qualification that you’re working towards.
All apprenticeships must have a minimum of thirty working hours-a-week, in terms of overall length, most apprenticeships typically last around twelve months.
Can I get paid for an apprenticeship?
Gov apprentices are entitled to pay just as any employee is, however, apprentices are usually paid the national minimum wage, which is £4.30-an-hour for apprentices. However, employers reserve the right to pay apprentices higher than minimum-wage if they so decide.
The reason for being paid at minimum wage is because not only are apprentices not qualified to do the job they are applying for, but also because apprentices are essentially working part-time and will therefore not receive the same payment as full-time members of staff. Another thing to consider is the fact that the employer is paying for an apprentice’s training as well. However, apprentices working abnormal hours or ‘overtime’ are paid an additional £1.33 per-hour for hours worked in overtime.
Are there levels of apprenticeship?
There are generally four levels of apprenticeship, however, these are shortened to three. The levels correspond to the difficulty and the different skills required. Typically, these are categorised as:
- Level 2 – Intermediate Apprenticeship: Typically made up by those studying: GCSEs (Grades A*–C), BTEC (First) Diplomas and/or Certificates, OCR (Oxford, Cambridge and RSA) Nationals, Key Skills Level: 2, NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications) at Level: 2.
- Level 3 – Advanced Apprenticeship: Typically made up by those studying: A Levels, Advanced Extension Awards, GCSE in any applied subjects, International Baccalaureate (e.g. IB Diploma Programme), Key Skills Level: 3, NVQs at Level: 3, BTEC Diplomas and/or certificates, BTEC Nationals, OCR Nationals.
- Level 4/5 – Higher Apprenticeship: Typically made up by those studying: NVQs at Level 4 apprenticeships, any BTEC Professional Diplomas, any Foundation Degrees, Honours Degrees. These are sometimes known as degree apprenticeships.
However, you should be aware that the level of the course does not necessarily correspond to a higher pay grade.
What are the benefits of becoming an apprentice?
Being an apprentice has a number of benefits for an apprentice and a number of them are even better than working without an apprenticeship first as well.
Apprentices can earn while they learn, and what’s more, is that the learning aspect of the apprenticeship is suited to the apprentice, it is done at your own pace and in easy, bitesize chunks and doesn't encroach on your personal life.
You will also have the opportunity to experience your potential job in a hands-on manner, especially if you're looking at anything like QA apprenticeships, NHS apprenticeships or engineering apprenticeships.
What types of apprenticeships are available?
There are a wide range of industries or sectors that cover apprenticeships. Various sectors and a number of different companies as well. You can find apprenticeships in a number of sectors, such as:
- Creative Media
- Business, Administrative and Accounting
- Construction, Agriculture and Environmental
- Engineering, Telecommunications and IT
- Healthcare, Social Care, Animal Care and Education
- Retails, Sales, Tourism, Hospitality, Transport and Logistics
- Sports and Leisure
Am I eligible for an apprenticeship?
To be eligible for an apprenticeship, you have to be a UK or an EEA citizen or you have to have resided within this region for at least three consecutive years, you must also be over the age of 16.
You cannot hold a level of qualification higher than level: 3. Level: 3 qualifications are allowed but any higher means that you will not be eligible for an apprenticeship, you can also not be in any other form of full-time education at the same time as your apprenticeship and you will also have to (as stated above) work a minimum of thirty hours-a-week.
How will I be assessed on an apprenticeship?
All apprenticeships UK are designed to allow the majority, the practical and the important elements of learning and assessment to occur in the workplace with the added option of direct delivery either through e-learning or e-assessment.
If it is not possible to do these electronically, then learning will be completed in a classroom-based environment that will allow people to study the theoretical side of things and to apply the practical skills that they have learned to their coursework.
What is a block release?
A block release is where your employer will give employees time off of work in order to pursue academic endeavours. So if you’re doing an apprenticeship, you will become very much accustomed to the idea of going off on block release.
These aren’t excuses to just go home or do anything recreational either, these are carefully constructed to ensure that you receive the full benefit of experience from teachers and from practitioners.
Does an apprenticeship allow me to move forward with my career?
An apprenticeship will certainly allow you to move forward with your chosen career; it will allow you to have not just knowledge of the industry but also experience as well and there are many people who won’t hire people without experience.
This will set you apart from other candidates if you ever apply elsewhere. Studies have shown that roughly 33% of employers have seen their apprentices reach management positions within their company and nearly 50% have said that it has taken them 5 years or less to get there.