What is an Apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship is a real job, with hands on experience, a salary and the chance to
train and gain qualifications while you work.
- You are treated just like all other employees, with a contract of employment, a salary and holiday leave.
- You are given real responsibilities.
- You will spend at least 20% (equivalent to 1 day a week) of your time completing off-the-job training, often at a college, university or with an independent training provider.
- You will train to be fully competent in your chosen occupation.
What levels are there?
All apprenticeships include elements of on the job and off the job training, leading to industry recognised standards or qualifications. Some apprenticeships also require an assessment at the end of the programme to assess the apprentice`s ability and competence in their job role.
You can start an apprenticeship at intermediate, advanced, higher or degree level. Usually the level you start at depends on your existing levels of qualifications and your work experience. Once you have completed your apprenticeship there may be an opportunity for you to progress to the level above, and continue to build upon your knowledge and experience.
Apprenticeships are available to anyone over the age of 16, living in England and have no upper age limit. The National Apprenticeship Service is committed to ensuring that high quality apprenticeships are a prestigious option, accessible to all people from all backgrounds. All vacancies on ‘Find an apprenticeship’ https://www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship will clearly state what the entry requirements are for the job role being advertised. There will be different entry requirements depending on the industry, job role and apprenticeship level.
Recent changes to the minimum English and maths requirements now mean that people with a learning difficulty or disability can now access a level 2 intermediate apprenticeship as long as they can achieve an entry level 3 qualification during their apprenticeship. A Disability Confident Employer will generally offer an interview to any applicant that declares they have a disability and meets the minimum criteria as defined by the employer. For more details, search Disability Confident on GOV.UK
What can an apprentice earn?
Levels of starting salaries for apprentices are variable and are dependent on many factors
- The level of apprenticeship you apply for.
- The sector you are working in e.g., engineering, retail, health care, sciences etc.
- The type of employer you are working for e.g., small business, large corporation, public or private sector. your age, experience and existing qualifications
Apprentices are entitled to the apprentice rate if they’re either:
- Aged under 19.
- Aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship.
Example: An apprentice aged 22 in the first year of their apprenticeship is entitled to a minimum apprentice hourly rate of £4.30 (as of April 2021).
- Apprentices are entitled to the minimum wage for their age if they both:
- Are aged 19 or over.
- Have completed the first year of their apprenticeship.
Example: An apprentice aged 22 who has completed the first year of their apprenticeship is
entitled to a minimum hourly rate of £8.36.
The National Minimum Wage for apprentices usually changes annually on the 1st April. You
must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage rate for your age if you are an apprentice aged 19 or over and have completed your first year. Some apprentices may start at the minimum level but can quickly increase their salary as they become more competent in their job role. Starting salaries for lots of apprenticeships are much higher than minimum. Many higher and degree apprenticeships advertise at around £16,000 to £24,000 a year, and above that you’ll bump into ‘competitive salaries’ again.
- Earn a real wage;
- Be trained in the skills employers want;
- Set yourself up for the future – apprentices enjoy marked salary increases when they complete their training, and those completing a higher apprenticeship could see increased earnings of an estimated £150,000 over their lifetime.
How many hours per week will an apprentice be working?
The minimum duration of each apprenticeship is based on the apprentice working 30 hours a week or more, including any off-the-job training you undertake. However, this does not apply in every circumstance. For example, people with caring responsibilities or people with a disability may work reduced weekly hours. Where this is the case, the duration of the apprenticeship will be extended to take account of this.
The time spent on off-the-job training should be at least 20% and should be included as part of working hours. The employer must allow time to complete the apprenticeship within the working hours. If support is needed with English and maths, this should also be within the working hours.
Alternative to Higher Education (18+)
If you aren’t sure about spending another three years in full-time education, you could consider getting some qualifications whilst you earn by doing an apprenticeship, going straight into the world of work or you might choose to take a gap year to gain some new life experiences.
What's the different between a Uni Degree & an Apprenticeship Degree?
Both routes offer the opportunity to gain a full degree qualification, but there are some key differences.
- Apprentices split their time between university study and the workplace, and are employed throughout the course.
- Traditional degrees offer a much broader choice of courses, subjects, subject combinations, and the range of modules you can cover. However, degree apprenticeships are limited to the universities working with the employer and the employer’s location, and the course content is industry-specific.
- Degree apprenticeships are focused on developing the skills and knowledge for specific jobs and careers. Traditional degree courses, on the other hand, offer a wide range of career prospects, but some are focused on particular professions, and there are still many careers that require traditional qualifications which cannot be attained with a degree apprenticeship.
- The experience of student life will be different for apprentices. Traditional on-campus learning, with the social life it offers, can be particularly important to some students. While degree apprentices do experience
some elements of campus life, it will be different and combined with additional work-based experience.
- Degree apprenticeship fees are funded by the government and the employer, and apprentices are paid a wage throughout the apprenticeship, meaning degree apprentices can be debt-free. Studying a traditional degree will cost students their tuition fees (maximum £9,250 a year) plus living expenses. There are student loans, bursaries, and scholarships available – find out more at www.ucas.com/finance-and-support
Higher Degree Apprenticeships
Higher and degree apprenticeships combine work with study at a higher level. The apprentice gains hands-on experience and qualifications while getting paid. There’s no university fees – these are co-funded by the government and employer. Degree apprenticeships are a new type of programme. Students can achieve a full bachelor’s or master’s degree as part of their apprenticeship and get to graduate with a cap and gown! There are lots of different apprenticeships available across a wide range of industries and for a wide variety of job roles.
Good to know...
- The same rights and benefits as other employees, with a contract and paid holidays.
- The potential to earn a salary equivalent to similar roles in the company.
- Additional benefits may include a pension, access to a car, or a location allowance if you have to move.
You are offered:
- In a wide range of sectors and occupations, including accounting, broadcast technology, healthcare science, IT and software development, legal services, product design and retail.
- By large companies such as Balfour Beatty, Google, Rolls Royce, Sky and Santander, as well as smaller businesses.
Higher and degree level apprenticeships are specially designed to meet industry demand for a highly skilled workforce, so apprentices become valuable employees. You might be offered a role within the same company when you complete your training, but if not you will have an impressive set of skills and knowledge that will help you find a role elsewhere. Apprentices can reach senior manager and boardroom level, particularly in the fields of construction, engineering and energy. For example, 30% of the senior UK managers at Rolls Royce were apprentices at the company
Is An Apprenticeship Right For Me?
Apprenticeships aren’t the ‘easy option’ . Holding down a full-time job and studying takes commitment and hard work, and it won’t be right for everyone. No matter what kind of career you want to follow, you need to do your research and find out if you can reach your career goals through an apprenticeship, or if you need to/
would prefer to study full-time at university or college.
This could be a good option if you:
- Have a firm idea of the type of career you would like to go into.
- Are keen to get into the world of work and start earning straight away, rather than doing more full-time study.
- Want to gain higher level qualifications but prefers a more practical approach to study.
- Feel you can cope with the challenge of juggling a busy schedule of work and study.
- Want to gain a degree without having to pay student fees.
What other work benefits can I expect?
Expect holiday pay. And if you earn enough, a pension scheme. Beyond that, it depends on your contract.
Employers may offer you help with relocating or finding accommodation, or give you access to a company car or leisure facilities, for example. Or you might end up with a free company pen and a pat on the back. It’s at their discretion, and up to you to negotiate if there's something you'd find particularly valuable.
Finding and Applying for an Apprenticeship
With so many opportunities on offer, there are several ways you can find an apprenticeship. More information, including videos of current apprentices, are available at www.apprenticeships.gov.uk
At any one time on Find an apprenticeship, in a variety of careers and industries across England, there are between 12,000 - 20,000 apprenticeships vacancies online available at www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship You can search by keyword (job role, occupation type or apprenticeship level) and by location.
NotGoingtoUni also has lots of national apprenticeship jobs listed from organisations such as Sky, IBM, Network Rail and many more
In addition, some employers advertise vacancies on their website. Once the right job comes up, simply register on the website and follow the step by step instructions to apply for the role.
- Can you do an apprenticeship in the job you want - and what level is the apprenticeship?
- Start by finding out if there is an apprenticeship standard for the career your interested in. Visit
- Every type of apprenticeship is graded at a certain level and this affects the entry requirements.
- For some apprenticeships everyone has to start at a Level 2 no matter what level of qualifications
they already have - for example in hairdressing - everyone has to learn how to wash and dry hair
before moving on to cutting.
- For some Level 3 jobs you may have to work unsupervised, so if you haven't had much experience of
work so far, you may start on a Level 2 before moving on to the Level 3.
- Most apprenticeships have pathways for you to progress, but it depends on the job, so you do need to check what opportunities there are for progression.
- Go to 'Find an Apprenticeship' on the government site.
Nearly all apprenticeship vacancies are listed on the government site. It is a good idea to 'create
By registering you can set up alerts for the types of apprenticeships you are interested in, in a specific
location and set up text and email alerts to let you know when a new job is on the site.
You can also use the site to apply for apprenticeship vacancies and keep track of your applications.
The government has created a new website Amazing Apprenticeships https://amazingapprenticeships.com/ with lots of useful information and help in finding apprenticeships.
Step by step guide: Other ways to find and apply for an apprenticeship
- Vacancies are also listed on The Student Room (www.thestudentroom.co.uk) and UCAS websites (www.
- If you are interested in working for a particular company, it’s worth checking their website and following
them on social media to hear about vacancies as soon as they come up.
- Approach an employer directly – If you know exactly who you would like to work for, consider approaching the company directly and asking if they have any opportunities either now or in the future.
- Use the internet to research vacancies with local providers or employers.
- College or training provider websites can also provide local apprenticeship listings and opportunities.
Contact the National Apprenticeship Helpdesk for further support on 0800 015 0400 or by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
When To Apply
- Vacancies are advertised throughout the year and each vacancy will have its own application deadline.
- Typically, larger organisations will start to advertise places in the autumn, with most vacancies coming up in January and February onwards.
- If you hope to start your apprenticeship in August or September, you could start looking for vacancies from
- You shouldn’t wait until the last minute to apply, as some companies will close recruitment once they have a certain number of candidates.
- You should register for alerts at www.gov.uk/applyapprenticeship to hear about new vacancies
Additional financial support is available for care leavers starting apprenticeships. A £1,000 bursary is available to support care leavers who are aged 16-24, this will be paid directly to them in the first year of the apprenticeships. If you need help with you apprenticeship application or professional advice on making the right choices, visit: nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk for a web-chat with an adviser or call: 0800 100 900 (free from landlines and mobiles).
Lincolnshire's care leavers' apprenticeship scheme (CLAS)
CLAS is a tailor-made apprenticeship scheme where looked after children and care leavers are employed by Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) and seconded, where appropriate, to host organisations for the duration of the apprenticeship.
Under this scheme we have employees in sectors ranging from forestry to joinery, motor vehicle mechanics, animal care, elderly care, plumbing, ICT, hairdressing, hospitality and almost any other vocational area you can think of. If you want to do Business Administration, you will usually work directly in LCC.
Apprenticeships vary in duration, and entry requirements depending upon the vocational area, but all include studying 1 day a week, and extra Maths and English if you don’t already have at least a C grade at GCSE (that’s grades 4 - 9 under the new system).
The usual route to get onto CLAS is via the Work Preparation Programme. This is a 2 day course followed by up to 13 weeks of work experience. The course runs 3 times a year, February, June and October, in Sleaford. To qualify, you need to be the legal responsibility of LCC (i.e. taken into care by LCC) and live within a 45 mile radius of Sleaford.
All work experience and CLAS placements are tailor-made to meet your needs. Employment through CLAS is dependent upon successful completion of work experience, including at least 95% attendance. Both schemes are managed by Barnardo’s Lincolnshire Leaving Care Service.
Click here if you are a care leaver looking to apply to Higher Education.
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