You are able to apply for an apprenticeship as soon as you have reached school leaver age. Depending on whether you are applying for intermediate, advanced, higher or degree level apprenticeship there are several entry requirements that you should meet to be in with a good chance of a successful application. As with applying for any job, each apprenticeship will have slightly different apprenticeship entry requirements and job specification.
The different levels of apprenticeships are set out to make sure you are applying for the correct type for your specific skills and qualifications. You can typically work your way through the levels or, after completing one level go directly into employment. Usually the more experience and levels you complete the higher your pay, every apprenticeship will have its own specific entry requirements and qualities that an employer is looking for, but there are some more general entry requirements.
An intermediate apprenticeship level is often seen as the equivalent of GCSEs and is the first level of apprenticeship. To apply for this start level, an employer will often ask for at least two A*-C GCSEs or equivalent. However, if you do not have or are not expected to achieve this, do not be put off from applying, for some apprenticeships it is not essential to have these qualifications when applying for this initial level. If you do not have GCSE in English or Maths it is the usual procedure that you will be asked to complete a numeracy and literacy test and you may have to work towards a qualification in English and Maths alongside your apprenticeship.
To be in with a chance of securing an advanced level apprenticeship, most employers will be looking for an applicant with an intermediate apprenticeship or a strong selection of GCSE results. Typically a good employer would be looking for those with at least five A*-C GCSE’s, two of these being English and maths. If you do not feel you have the entry requirements for an advanced apprenticeship, it is worth exploring the intermediate option first.
A higher level apprenticeship is one of the best you can receive and to reflect this, the entry requirements are a lot higher than the advanced and intermediate levels. Most people accepted onto this level will be over 18 and have already achieved an advanced level apprenticeship. You may also be considered for this level of apprenticeship if you have a minimum of two A Levels or other relevant work experience that is essential to the job.
As a new government initiative and the highest of the apprenticeship levels the degree apprenticeship is hard to get accepted for both in entry requirements and the amount of competition for a place. Employers may also offer this degree level to existing employees to progress their skills, so there are many aspects to consider when applying. A degree level can require at least five A*-C GCSE grades, three A levels and will usually have a specific entry requirement on top of formal qualifications. If you feel you have the qualifications, experience and skills for this level of apprenticeship the best advice is to search for the available places using UCAS’ career search tool and study the individual application requirements.
Do not panic! There are always options to help you get into your chosen career path even if you think that you may not have the correct qualifications. In this case it may be best to apply for an Intermediate Level apprenticeship. For some of these apprenticeships you will not be required to have formal qualifications and they may help you to work towards a basic maths and English qualification. If you are struggling to get accepted onto an apprenticeship because low or no qualifications are letting you down, there is a fully funded Access to Apprenticeship pathway, designed to help you progress into an apprenticeship. To qualify for this pathway you must not have been in employment or education for a continuous period of 13 weeks and you must be aged 16-24.
It is worth checking the individual apprenticeship specification to see if experience is an essential requirement. Usually you can be accepted directly from school or college providing you meet the grade requirements and are passionate about the job and subject you are applying for. Experience is always a bonus and will make you stand out against other candidates, so it is never a bad thing to have on your CV, if you get the opportunity to undertake some volunteer or paid work it is usually worth accepting it for a period of time, even if you feel you have the correct qualifications.
To apply for an apprenticeship, be aware that you will need to fill out an application form specific to the apprenticeship you are applying for. This will typically feature an array of questions to test your passion, skills and qualifications to decide if you are suitable for the job. You will also be required to submit your CV. A CV is a record of your skills and experience and is essential for anything you may choose to do in the future, so is always worth spending a fair amount of time to create a good CV and keeping it updated as you progress through an apprenticeship. If you need any help preparing this document, there are plenty of guides online or visit your school career advisor or talk to a personal tutor. You may also have to write a covering letter, a covering letter should give an outline why you want the apprenticeship and why you are qualified. It should be more personal than your CV, highlight your best bits and be specific to the particular industry and job. If you have both your CV and covering letter finalised, you are ready to start applying to apprenticeships!
With most apprenticeships you will apply online after seeing a vacancy posting. Some may link through to a specific application form, whereas others may provide you with an email. If you only have an email address, it is worth sending your CV and covering letter along with a formally addressed email – remember spelling mistakes and incorrect layouts can damage your chance of being successful. You may then be invited to attend an interview or to undertake some further tests to check your entry qualifications.
You can look for current apprenticeship listings on the UCAS Progress Search or on the National Apprenticeships Service (NAS). If you are currently in employment and want to benefit your career, it is worth checking with your current employer to see if they offer an apprenticeship scheme, or if they are able to put you in touch with a company that does offer one if they do not.
You can apply for apprenticeships as and when they become available online. Applications can close quickly and the competition can often be high, especially around results days. With this in mind it is recommended that you apply as soon as you see an apprenticeship that takes your fancy, you have nothing to lose, so you may as well get into the swing of things and apply for as many as possible, that way no matter what your qualifications, you have the best chance of getting accepted for a position.
Just remember to be both realistic and ambitious when applying for an apprenticeship. There is no point wasting your time applying for an apprenticeship which requires experience or qualifications that you don’t have. However ambition is a good thing and if you only slightly miss an entry requirement it could still be worth applying if you have some relevant experience or if you are passionate about the particular job and industry sector, if this comes across in your CV and covering letter you could be in with a good chance of success!
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