Learning on the job whilst studying a particular skill and earning a wage can be very appealing to many individuals. Whether just starting out, or hoping to better your current skills to improve employment opportunities, there are numerous different types of apprenticeships to suit any individual at every stage of your life.
What apprenticeship you apply for will depend on what stage you are at within your education or if you are already in employment, what experience you currently have. Generally speaking, you an apprenticeship will consist of both study and on the job learning and the higher the type of apprenticeship and the more experience you have, the more you will be paid. The following should give you a rough idea of the perfect level for you.
An intermediate level apprenticeship is considered to be the same as five GCSE or Nationals 4’s and 5’s.
· An advanced level is the same as A Levels or Scottish Highers
· A higher/technical level can lead to an NVQ level 4 or foundation degree
· A degree/professional apprenticeship can lead to a full bachelors or master’s degree
An intermediate apprenticeship is ideal if you are just starting out. Often considered to be the equivalent to GCSE level, this is a good stepping stone if you have just left school or if you have low or no qualifications but have the desire to start a career. It is the most popular level of apprenticeship with a huge range of careers available. With this type of apprenticeship you will spend the majority of your time working for an employer which is a great way to get on the job experience. You will also get paid at least the minimum wage of £3.30 per hour during your apprenticeship, although it may sound low, it soon adds up and many of your peers may still be in education or paying for a qualification! During an intermediate level you will also be expected to spend some time at a training centre or college to further your skill knowledge. Once you have achieved an intermediate level, it is quite likely that you will want to progress onto an advance level apprenticeship.
An advance level apprenticeship follows on from the intermediate and is the ideal type of apprenticeship to pursue if you have already successfully completed your intermediate level, taking the skills you have previously learnt and developing these further. This type of apprenticeship follows the same structure as the intermediate level, gaining skills whilst working and getting paid the minimum wage of £3.30, although many companies will offer more than this, or if you are over 19 you will be eligible for the full minimum wage. Your time will also be split to attend a training centre or college alongside the work and the advance level typically takes around two years to achieve.
The higher level apprenticeship is one step further on the apprenticeship scale and offers you the chance to achieve a level 4 NVQ, the equivalent of studying further education with the bonus of getting paid. As it is such a high level there are less apprenticeships available, but this shouldn’t put you off! This route is a great option to take if university isn’t for you and will include a mixture of on the job training and study in a training centre or college and at the end you will receive a nationally recognised qualification. This type of apprenticeship will last the minimum of one year, but can often be nearer four years, do not let this be a reason not to apply, the longer time period only reflects the amount of hard work and the level of qualification it results in and on achieving this level, your pay and CV can benefit greatly.
The degree level apprenticeship is a new government initiative to further the apprenticeship programme. They are similar to the higher apprenticeship but it allows you to achieve a full bachelor’s or master’s degree whilst in employment. Perfect if you prefer learning on the job but still enjoy the studying aspect, you will split your time between studying at a university and working the job. This is a longer type of apprenticeship, typically taking between three and six years to complete and as such a new apprenticeship there are drastically less apprenticeship available than other routes, so it is worth checking if your career path is covered by this level. Tuition fees will usually be paid in full or in part by the employee and you will still receive a salary.
Each specific apprenticeship will state at what level they are available, be it intermediate, advance, higher and degree level and each apprenticeship will be set out like a job application, allowing you to easily see the type, entry requirements and person specification. By using this level scheme it is easy to make sure you are entering at the right level for you and allowing you to monitor your progression.
There are hundreds of apprenticeship opportunities so it is essential you carefully select what type of apprenticeship will suit you. There are 11 main industry sectors which open up into hundreds of specific apprenticeships to cover anything that may take your fancy.
· Construction, planning and the built environment – this apprenticeship sector covers everything from plumbing to construction management and is an ideal option for anyone with a practical mind.
· Leisure, travel and tourism – perfect for those wanting to use a career to see a part of the world, this sector includes apprenticeships for cabin crew, sports development and travel services.
· Agriculture, horticulture and animal care – this sector covers everything from veterinary nursing, floristry and land based engineering to animal care and environmental conservation, this wide sector enables you to get up close and personal to follow a career based around the outside world.
· Arts, Media and Publishing – this is a creative sector and includes apprenticeships in costume and wardrobe, photo imaging and journalism, perfect for hands on individuals with an artistic and ‘out of the box’ mind-set.
· Business, administration and law – for those of you who enjoy figures, statistics and the business world, this may seem a more appealing apprenticeship, from payroll and banking to criminal investigation and tax, there are a whole array of careers in an office.
· Engineering and manufacturing technologies – one of the bigger sectors, there is a large list of possibilities within this field, explosives, storage and maintenance, jewellery, silversmithing and allied trades and rail infrastructure engineering are just three of the wide possibilities to investigate in this area.
· Education and Training – quite self-explanatory, apprenticeships are available in learning support and teacher support to further a career in education.
· Information and communication technology – every company in the modern world needs somebody who has skills in this area, this is a great route to take if technology interests you.
· Science and Mathematics
· Retail and Commercial Enterprise – from beauty therapy and hairdressing to catering and retail management, if you enjoy being face to face with customers this could be a good route for you and can result in exciting behind the scenes work for large companies.
· Health, public services and care – this sector is ideal for those with a desire to care for others, covering community safety, legal advice and a whole range of health specific apprenticeships from dental nursing to pharmacy services, this could be the route for you.
The type of apprenticeship you choose will determine what sort of place you will be working. You could end up working for a large, well known company or for a small, more local business. This will suit the apprenticeship you have chosen as well as what you personally prefer. Both will give you just as valuable experience, skills and qualification and will help you on your career path.
Once you have decided what type of apprenticeship is for you, the big question is how do you find the available apprenticeships? With more than 170 industries and 1500 job roles, the best way to narrow it down is to visit gov.uk and search the apprenticeship section of the site. You can also talk to a careers advisor or personal tutor at a school or college, or your current employer. For Degree Apprenticeships you can use UCAS’ career finder to see any current vacancies. As this is a new initiative don’t be disheartened if you cannot find an apprenticeship to suit you, there are only a small number of apprenticeships and these must be applied for well in advance. The numbers of apprenticeships are expected to increase over the next few years, so it is definitely worth keeping an eye open if this type of apprenticeship is for you
Whatever type of apprenticeship you settle with at whatever level, it is a positive step forward to a lifelong career so good luck!
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