Apprenticeships combine practical training in a job with study. You’ll be employed to do a real job while studying for a formal qualification. The study part is usually for one day a week either at a college or a training centre, and the rest of the time you will be working full-time like a normal employee. To apply for an apprenticeship, you need to be 16 or over, living in the United Kingdom and not in full-time education.
Why choose an Apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship offers the chance to gain skills, qualifications and experience, whilst earning a wage. It’s a great compromise between entering the workforce straight after school and earning a qualification to set you up in your chosen industry. It’s also a great opportunity to see whether this industry is what you want to pursue as your career. As an apprentice, you’ll avoid student loans, as the Government and your employer cover the entire cost of your training! Despite the low minimum wage for apprentices, you may find yourself financially better off than your friends who went to uni as you’ll be able to start putting money away without worrying about student debt.
Working Hours and Pay
Apprenticeships are paid, and you are entitled to the National Minimum Wage. The current minimum wage rate for an apprentice is £3.906 per hour. If you’ve noticed that this is a lot higher than the minimum wage for non-apprentices, this is to help your employer cover the costs of your training. This rate applies to all apprentices in their first year, and apprentices aged 19 or over are paid a higher minimum wage after their first year. You’ll work full time and your study time is usually part of your paid hours.
Length of Apprenticeships
Apprenticeships usually take between one and four years to complete. The length of the apprenticeship depends on a number of factors, such as the level of the apprenticeship, your chosen sector, employer requirements and your individual ability.
Tasks and skills
What you’ll learn will depend on the role that you will be training for. Apprentices in every role follow an approved study curriculum, which means you’ll gain a nationally-recognised qualification at the end of your apprenticeship. These qualifications are available at GCSE-equivalent level all the way up to degree level. These qualifications can include:
- Functional skills – GCSE-level qualifications in English, Maths and IT.
- National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) – from level 2 (comparable to five GCSEs) up to level 5 (similar to a postgraduate degree).
- Technical certificates – such as BTEC, City and Guild Progression Award etc.
- Academic qualifications – including a Higher National Certificate (HNC), Higher National Diploma (HND) foundation degree or the equivalent of a full Masters degree.
Type of Apprenticeships
Apprenticeships are available in a wide range of different industries. Most job sectors offer apprenticeship opportunities in the UK, with a wide range of specific roles on offer within each. These include:
- Business apprenticeships in roles such as accounting, marketing, people/HR administration, recruitment and sales. A lot of these will also be available in other sectors as everything from the NHS to engineering firms need the skills business apprenticeships offer.
- Law apprenticeships offered at legal executive or solicitor level.
- IT apprenticeships in roles such as software development and cyber security.
- Healthcare apprenticeships in roles such as dental, nursing and youth work, in addition to NHS apprenticeships that can fall under other sectors, such as accounting and administration.
- Engineering apprenticeships in roles such as civil engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering.
- Construction apprenticeships in roles such as building, plumbing and quantity surveying.
- Media apprenticeships in roles such as journalism, live events and costume design.
89% of employers say they’d do an Apprenticeship if they were starting their career again.7
Highest Paid Apprenticeships
Apprentices in the Legal sector can expect the highest pay, with advertised salary of £23,904. Engineeringplacements follow close behind, with an average salary of £22,512 on offer for apprenticeship schemes. The Accounting and Finance is a popular sector in apprenticeships, with advertised salaries starting from £17,988.
Benefits of an apprenticeship
Apprenticeships are designed to enhance your competency and confidence by developing your practical skills and knowledge. They provide you with a number of great benefits, whether you are someone who has just left school or college or an existing employee in a business.
By doing an Apprenticeship, you benefit from the following:
- Working alongside experienced staff.
- Gaining a nationally recognised qualification with experience, both of which are highly attractive to employers.
- Developing your knowledge and learning a new set of skills.
- Taking a fast route into a career with good prospects.
- Getting paid holidays, including bank holidays.
- Learning to behave professionally as you will be immersed in a working environment.
- Developing your independence in a supported environment.
Earning while you’re learning.