1. Home
  2. Getting Started
  3. What is an Apprenticeship

What is an Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship means working in a company while studying for a technical qualification – usually one day per week at a college or training centre. You should gain the expertise and experience required to succeed in your chosen career or progress to the next apprenticeship level by the end of your apprenticeship.

Apprenticeship Basics

  • Combine on-the-job training with academic teaching
  • Apprenticeships from intermediate (GCSE equivalent) level to degree level
  • Apprenticeships will last from one to six years
  • During your apprenticeship, you will be paid at least the National Minimum Wage

How do apprenticeships work?

An apprenticeship means working in a company while studying for a technical qualification – usually one day per week at a college or training centre. You should gain the expertise and experience required to succeed in your chosen career or progress to the next apprenticeship level by the end of your apprenticeship.

The role with which you are practising determines what you can learn. However, apprentices in all roles follow an accredited learning programme, which guarantees a nationally recognised qualification at the end of the apprenticeship.

These qualifications can include:

  • Functional skills – GCSEs in English, math, and computer technology
  • National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) – ranging from Level 2 to Level 5 (equivalent to five GCSEs all the way up to a postgraduate degree.)
  • Technical certificates – such as BTEC, City and Guild Award
  • Academic qualifications – such as a Higher National Certificate (HNC), Higher National Diploma (HND), foundation degree, or the equivalent of a full Bachelor’s degree

You’ll also be consciously honing the transferable skills, also known as soft skills, which employers highly regard. Communication, coordination, and problem-solving skills are needed, and an awareness of IT and the use of statistics.

What are the apprenticeship levels?

There are four different levels of apprenticeship:

  • Intermediate – equivalent to five GCSEs
  • Advanced – equal to two A-levels
  • Higher – first step of higher education, such as a foundation degree
  • Degree – comparable to a Bachelors or Masters University degree

What types of apprenticeships are there?

Apprenticeship opportunities are available in many job fields, with a wide range of specialised roles available within each. Here are some examples:

  • Accounting apprenticeships in areas such as payroll, taxes, and finance
  • Management, manufacturing, consultancy, and leadership apprenticeships
  • Building apprenticeships in areas such as engineering, plumbing, and quantity surveying
  • Apprenticeships in civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering
  • Apprenticeships in healthcare disciplines such as dentistry and nursing
  • Human resources (HR) apprenticeships for those applying to areas in support, consultancy, and administration
  • Cybersecurity and web development apprenticeships
  • There are paralegal, law executive, and solicitor apprenticeships in the legal sector
  • Apprenticeships in digital communications, social media, and public relations (PR)
  • Apprenticeships in retail buying, merchandising, and management. Sales apprenticeships are also available
  • Transportation apprenticeships in various roles in the transportation, aerospace, and airline industries
  • You’ll be able to join the chosen industry at an apprenticeship level that reflects your previous qualifications as well as the job requirements

How long is an apprenticeship?

Several factors, including the apprenticeship, your chosen industry, employer preferences, and your particular ability, may all influence the length of your training.

Apprenticeships usually last between one and six years. Their duration fits a straightforward pattern: Intermediate apprenticeships last one to 18 months, advanced apprenticeships generally last two years, and higher and degree apprenticeships typically lasts three to six years.

When applying, chat with the company you want to work for, they will decide how long your course can go on for since some will not follow this timeframe.

How much will I get paid?

You’re entitled to the apprenticeship rate of £4.15 per hour under the age of 19 or if you are above the age of 19 and still in your first year as a student. Apprentices aged 19 and over who have served their first year are eligible for the National Minimum Wage (NMW). These will be £6.45 per hour (for people aged 18-20), £8.20 (21-24), and £8.72 (from April 2020). (for those aged 25-34). (Age 25 and up).

This salary is given as a guideline; certain businesses will pay you more. You will also be entitled to sick time and all other perks that the company offers to the other employees, such as retirement plans and childcare grants, as well as at least 20 days of paid holidays every year.

The nature of your daily working hours will be determined by the company you enter. Although most apprentices would expect to work a 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily with an hour for lunch, someone involved in catering or childcare, for example, could expect to work antisocial shifts.

How old do I have to be?

There is no upper age limit for being an apprentice. If you are over the age of 16 and have the necessary qualifications, you can apply for your preferred apprenticeship.

If you start your apprenticeship after 19, you might be qualified for extra government support. Learn more about the options at Student Finance England – Advanced Learner Loan.

What do I need to have?

Since each apprenticeship class needs a different degree of certification on the Qualifications and Credit Scheme (QCF), the admission criteria may differ. In addition, they are as follows:

  • You must be above the age of 16 and no longer involved in full-time education to be eligible for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • An advanced apprenticeship is likely to include prior work experience and at least three 9-4 GCSEs or equivalent – such as an intermediate apprenticeship qualification
  • Since higher apprenticeships are equal to a foundation degree, HNC, or first year of a Bachelor’s degree, you’ll typically need at least five 9-4 grade GCSEs as well as some Level 3 qualifications in relevant subjects to apply. Level 3 certificates could include AS-levels, a BTEC National, or a Level 3 NVQ
  • The entry standards for degree apprenticeships will be the most strict. Three A-levels in a specified degree range or a higher apprenticeship norm might be required, in addition to at least five 9-4 GCSE grades. You’d almost certainly be supposed to have prior career experience

What should I think about?

  1. Recognise that apprenticeships are not for all. You’re not just studying but still doing 80 per cent of a full-time job. You would be expected to study in the evenings and on weekends. However, on the plus side, you can obtain a degree without incurring student debt. Still, you would also get a salary and gain many years of work experience that your peers graduating from a typical degree would not get
  2. Carefully research the workload and choose a course that is acceptable for you. Some may provide frequent in-person classes, and others will be nearly completely online, with a blend in between
  3. Research, the company where you’ll be doing your apprenticeship. Examine testimonials and chat with other apprentices at the firm. The quality of the experience can vary significantly between companies
Updated on December 23, 2021

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles