Introduction

Apprenticeships offer structured training in the workplace and are available at four levels.

Intermediate

An intermediate apprenticeship is equivalent to five A*-C GCSEs. You will work towards work-based learning qualifications such as an NVQ Level 2, functional skills and, in some cases, a relevant knowledge-based qualification such as a BTEC. These provide the skills required for the apprentice’s chosen career and allow entry to an advanced apprenticeship.

Advanced

An advanced apprenticeship is equivalent to two A-Level passes. You will work towards work-based learning qualifications such as an NVQ Level 3, functional skills and, in some cases, a relevant knowledge-based certificate such as a BTEC. To start this programme, the applicant should ideally have five GCSEs at grade C or above or have completed an intermediate apprenticeship.

Higher

A higher apprenticeship is equivalent to a Higher Education Certificate or Diploma, or a Foundation Degree at Level 4 or 5. To start a higher apprenticeship, you will need to have entry qualifications, typically at Level 3 such as A-Levels, advanced level diploma, or have completed an advanced apprenticeship. You may then choose to move onto a degree apprenticeship.

Degree

Degree apprenticeships start at Level 6 which is equivalent to a Bachelor degree and a Level 7 is equivalent to a Master’s degree. You will need to have completed a higher apprenticeship or have a Level 5 qualification such as a Higher Education Certificate or Diploma or a Foundation Degree to start a degree apprenticeship.

All apprentices are employed for at least 30 hours a week and are paid a salary with many apprentices now earning around £170 a week, and on the higher scale up to £250 a week.

Training

You will probably attend college or a learning provider for at least one day a week to build up your knowledge and skills. The time it takes to complete an apprenticeship depends on the sector you are working in and the type of qualifications required, although at intermediate level you would probably expect to achieve it within two years.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements vary according to which sector you are interested in – some require GCSE English and/or maths. But if you don’t have these, you will still be able to achieve either key skills (such as working in teams, problem-solving, and communication and using new technology) or functional skills (such as maths and English). Every apprenticeship framework contains these and you will be required to work towards them to get to the right level for the job you are in.

Other information

There can be quite fierce competition for apprenticeship places with employers, so you will need to show that you are committed to taking up a place and aware of your own responsibilities to yourself and to the employer. You will also need to be comfortable working in a team and on your own, to be able to use your initiative and to get on with people.

The Government is serious about making apprenticeships a key route for young people post 16, and over the next three years will be ensuring that an apprenticeship:

  • is a job in a skilled occupation
  • requires substantial, high quality training as lasting a minimum of 12 months, of which around 20% (one day a week) is off the job
  • develops transferable skills, and English and maths, to progress your career – remember that an apprenticeship should equip you for jobs in the future as well as the one you start off in
  • leads to full competence and capability in an occupation that will be recognised by achievement of an apprenticeship standard
  • trains you to the level required to apply to join a professional body, where this is relevant

FAQ

StudentsParentsTeachersEmployers

Apprenticeships are only for tradesmen.

Apprenticeships aren’t just for the trades such as electrician, carpentry and plumbing. Apprenticeships are available in a wide range of industries, such as marketing and social media to web development to fashion design and more. See this video for more information.

Apprenticeships are only available up to Level 3. I’ll still need to go to university.

Not true. Apprenticeships are available from Level 2 up to Level 7, which is equivalent to a Master’s Degree.

Sounds great, but like university I will still have to pay for an apprenticeship.

On the contrary. Unlike university you do not have to pay a penny. Apprenticeships are fully funded if an apprentice is between the ages of 16 to 18 and partially funded up to the age of 24. The apprentice does not have to contribute to anything. You will be able to learn debt-free and even better you will earn a salary during an apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships are only for tradesmen.

Apprenticeships aren’t just for the trades such as electrician, carpentry and plumbing. Apprenticeships are available in a wide range of industries, such as marketing and social media to web development to fashion design and more. See this video for more information.

Apprenticeships are for low academic achieving students.

Untrue! Many high achieving students are now looking at apprenticeships as an alternative to further and higher education. In fact with so many young people leaving university competing for the same jobs, employers are favouring those with real work experience than those fresh out of university.

Young people who go to university earn more than former apprentices.

Also untrue! Over a third of all apprentices received a promotion within a year of finishing. What’s more, apprentices will earn on average £150,000 more in their lifetime more than their peers who didn’t take on an apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships are only for tradesmen.

Apprenticeships aren’t just for the trades such as electrician, carpentry and plumbing. Apprenticeships are available in a wide range of industries, such as marketing and social media to web development to fashion design and more. See this video for more information.

Apprenticeships are for low academic achieving students.

Untrue! Many high achieving students are now looking at apprenticeships as an alternative to further and higher education. In fact with so many young people leaving university competing for the same jobs, employers are favouring those with real work experience than those fresh out of university.

Young people who go to university earn more than former apprentices.

Also untrue! Over a third of all apprentices received a promotion within a year of finishing. What’s more, apprentices will earn on average £150,000 more in their lifetime more than their peers who didn’t take on an apprenticeship.

I prefer to hire someone who has gone to university as they are more employable.

A study by ICM Research reveals that employers in England rate qualified higher apprentices as 25% more employable than those who took an alternative route into work.

I will have to expend time to train up an apprentice to be work-ready.

Apprentices will need to attend a certified training provider while on an apprenticeship. They will be learning on the job and will be developing the knowledge and occupational competencies demanded by specific job roles, to meet the unique needs of your business.

I will have to pay for their training.

Apprenticeship funding is available for employers from NAS. The size of the funding you will receive varies depending on your industry sector and the age of the candidate. If the apprentice is aged 16 to 18 years old, you will receive 100 per cent of the cost of the training; if they are 19-23 years old, you will receive up to 50 per cent; if they are 24 years old or over you may get a contribution depending on the sector and area in which you operate.