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Apprenticeships – What are they all about?

What is an Apprenticeship?

Working as an apprentice means you will gain a free qualification plus hands on work experience working for a local employer while normally attending college 1 day a week.

It is a great way to gain experience, complete additional studies / qualifications while being paid to do so.

Any employer can hire an apprentice, ensuring the job is relevant to your studies and the employer will ensure you gain hands on training with experienced staff and receive time off for studying.

There are different levels of apprenticeship.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, they are:

  • Intermediate (Level 2 – GCSE standard)
  • Advanced (Level 3 – A Levels standard)
  • Higher (Levels 4,5,6 and 7 – foundation degree or above)
  • Degree (Levels 6 and 7 – bachelor’s or master’s degree)

In Scotland, they are:

  • Foundation (mostly SCQF Level 6 – Highers standard)
  • Modern (mostly SCQF levels 6 and 7 – Highers of Advanced Highers standard)
  • Graduate (SCQF Levels 9, 10 and 11 – Undergraduate or master’s degree standard)

Popular Apprenticeships:

People often do apprenticeships if they know the career they want or if they are already working within their chosen career but want to gain more skills.

The most popular apprenticeships in England last year were within business and administration followed closely by construction and then health and construction.

Some known companies who support apprenticeships are British military, BT and Amazon.

Last year in England there was over 750,000 apprenticeships with the government wanting to see numbers increasing year on year.

How do you get an Apprenticeship?

There are many ways you can search and apply for an apprenticeship, most companies would advertise these directly for you to apply online. There is also dedicated sites for advertising apprenticeships and most universities and colleges will be able to assist with apply and sourcing apprenticeship opportunities.

Some companies will interview apprenticeships before you start, and you will need to pass assessment showing what you have learnt before completing and passing the qualification.

What can you earn while doing an apprenticeship?

If you are under 19 or if you are 19 or older but in the first year of your apprenticeship, you are entitled to the apprentice rate of £6.40 per hour.

After this time you will be entitled to the national living wage for your age group as a minimum.

£8.60 per hour for 19- and 20-year-olds.

£11.44 for those aged 21 and above.

Depending on the employer, you could earn above these amounts however the rates above detail the legal minimum requirement you would earn.

There are current campaigns to have the apprentice rate increased to national minimum wage, however this is on-going at present.

Apprenticeships are a great way to earn while you learn, gain a qualification along with the hands on experience.