How Apprenticeships Work
In the past, apprenticeships were only available for people within the ages of 16 - 24 who had not completed a degree. However, in recent years, the government has opened up opportunities to anyone who is aged 16 and above looking to either kick-off their career or educate themselves further in their field. Mature apprenticeships are growing in popularity since the apprenticeship levy was established in 2017 and are great for people who want to earn while they are learning, or re-train in a new industry.
In order to secure an apprenticeship, you must be living in the region that you are applying for an apprenticeship in, i.e. to apply for an apprenticeship in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales you must live in that area. Apprenticeship requirements will also vary across industries and employers will often outline their own specific criteria in job descriptions as well.
• An apprenticeship level can take upwards of 12 months to complete, dependent on the type.
• As an apprentice you must work for at least 30 hours a week.
• Apprentices earn the national apprenticeship minimum wage, although many employers pay more than this.
• You will also get the same benefits as an employee, including a holiday allowance.
• Before you start, your employer will set up an Apprenticeship Agreement.
• Your employer will agree to supporting your time out to study (usually one day a week) and provide a mentor for you at work.
• You will have regular review meetings with your training provider to make sure that your employer is supporting you and you are making progress.
• The training provider, tutor or college works closely with your employer to make sure your apprenticeship stays on track.
• The current minimum wage rate for an apprentice aged 19 and under, or over who are in their first year is £3.70 per hour.
• You will earn the minimum wage for your age if you’re an apprentice aged 19 or over and have completed your first year.
Degree Apprenticeships (Level 6) are developed by universities, employers and other professional bodies across England. Learners are able to complete a full bachelors or masters degree whilst gaining professional experience in a working environment.
As a degree apprentice you will be hired by employers and spend part of your time at university acquiring the knowledge you need for you job role, and the remainder of your time putting your knowledge to use in a practical working environment, where you will be mentored by senior members of staff. This means that not only will you get a wage, usually between £7,000 - £18,000 a year, but that you will also have no degree tuition fees to pay.
Applications for degree apprenticeships can be made from all over the UK, but they currently are only available in England and Wales. Depending on the course level, degree apprenticeships take between three to six years to complete. With over 40 degree apprenticeships available, from paramedic and police officer to civil engineer, project management and everything in between this could be the ideal career route for someone who is independent, hardworking and able to manage their time effectively. www.ucas.com is a great resource for more information.
Level 7 Apprenticeships
Level 7 apprenticeships are equivalent to a PGCE or Postgraduate certificate, MSc, MEng, MA or Level 7 NVQ. Because of the level of academics you will be achieving you will need at least level 3 qualifications to qualify, these can include A-Levels, high level NVQ/BTEC, a degree or an advanced apprenticeship. Alternatively, if you have a lot of experience in the industry you may qualify to do this apprenticeship with lower level qualifications.
Doing a level 7 apprenticeship may mean that you also get a chartered qualification or the opportunity to study further at university should you wish. It can be a great route into management and help you advance your skills to bring you up to the next stage in your career. There are over 130 higher level apprenticeships available, which are best suited to someone with a higher-level of education who is passionate about their industry, hardworking and academically minded.
Level 6 Apprenticeships
Level 6 apprenticeships are equivalent to a BA, Level 6 NVQ/BTEC, BSc Degree or Graduate certificate. You will need 5 GCSEs at A*-C or 9-4 including maths and English to qualify for a level 6 apprenticeship, as well as a level 5 qualification or equivalent in order to make the next step in your learner journey.
Doing a higher apprenticeship is great for advancing knowledge, as well as providing a key-stepping stone for your career and is best suited to someone who is already starting to advance in their career. There are over 130 higher level apprenticeships available in England, from Accountancy and HR to marketing, first pilot qualifications and everything in between.
Level 5 Apprenticeships
Level 5 apprenticeships qualifications are recognised as being on the same level as a foundation degree, second year of university, Level 5 NVQ/BTEC, HND or DipHE. To qualify for a level 5 apprenticeship, you will need 5 GCSEs at A*- C or 9-4 including maths and English, as well as a level 4 qualification or equivalent in order to make the next step in your learner journey.
Higher apprenticeships are typically designed for someone who has a basis of industry knowledge and who wants to take their career to the next level. They provide advancements in theoretical and practical knowledge in the specific industry of your choice. There are over 130 higher level apprenticeships available in England, across a range of sectors including healthcare and first response to office-based roles and even teaching.
Level 4 Apprenticeships
Level 4 apprenticeship are equivalent to a first year of university, Level 4 NVQ/BTEC, HNC or CertHE. The requirements to start a level 4 apprenticeship are 5 GCSEs at A*-C or 9-4 including maths and English, as well as a level 3 qualification or equivalent (i.e. A-Levels) in order to make the next step in your learner journey.
A level 4 apprenticeship is the first rung on the higher apprenticeship ‘ladder’ and can enable you to continue to advance your career into level 5/6/7 apprenticeships should you want to continue to study or are a great gateway apprenticeship into a career in general. There are over 130 higher level apprenticeships covering a wide range of office-based and more hands-on industries as well.
Level 3 Apprenticeships
Level 3 apprenticeships, also known as advanced apprenticeships are the equivalent of two A-Levels at a high grade, a Level 3 NVQ/BTEC or even a chartered qualification relevant to the role you are in. They are perfect for starting your apprenticeship journey into more advanced apprenticeships if you don’t have A-Levels, or ideal for beginning a career journey after college or GCSEs. Because of the diverse range of level 3 apprenticeships available every employer will have different requirements, varying from one or two A-Levels or GCSEs to having some previous industry experience, or even all of the above.
Your time as a level three apprentice will be split between working full-time as an employee, whilst studying in allocated slots, both independently and with a training provider or college. Level three apprenticeships are designed to enable you to be given more responsibility by your employer throughout your qualification, with the support of a senior member of staff. There are over 145 apprenticeships available at level three from marketing opportunities, legal and mortgage roles to teaching assistant jobs, dental nurse or cabin crew positions and more.
Level 2 Apprenticeships
Level 2 apprenticeships provide you with qualifications that are the equivalent of 5 GCSEs A*-C or 9-4, and can sometimes provide you with a BTEC or NVQ depending on the apprenticeship you choose. Additionally, you will get a level 2 functional skills qualification in English and maths if you don’t currently have any English or maths qualifications.
Level 2 apprenticeships are the most popular form of apprenticeship as they are open to anyone at any level of training or age, but they aren’t necessarily the best option for everyone. They are ideal for starting a career if you don’t have any GCSEs or equivalent qualifications, or great if you would like to re-train and go into a completely new industry. However, if you have lots of experience in an industry or have completed your GCSEs you are probably more suited to a Level 3 apprenticeship or above.
There are over 100 level 2 apprenticeships available across a range of industries which open up career pathways you may have never even thought of before. From animal care and healthcare to gardeners and office-based roles the world really is your oyster.