An apprenticeship is a paid job with built-in training and approved qualifications.
It lasts for a set period of time, typically 12-36 months.
And there are three parties involved:
- the apprentice – you?
- the employer – hiring you
- the trainer – usually a college or training company
The minimum age for an apprenticeship is 16 years but this can be affected by the entry criteria – e.g. if you require one or more A-levels you will most likely be 18 years of age or older on applying.
You also need to be legally eligible to leave full-time education – i.e. starting after the last Friday in June of year 11.
However, be aware that there isn’t a maximum age limit, so older adults and current employees can apply for any vacancies as well.
Each apprenticeship is graded from a Level 1 Traineeship through to a Level 4+ Higher Apprenticeship (including level 6+ Degree Apprenticeships) based on the qualifications that you will get on completion – and the entry qualifications you need to apply in the first place.
For this page, we are looking at Level 2 (Intermediate) and Level 3 (Advanced) apprenticeships because these are the most popular apprenticeships for those choosing to leave school at 16.
In general, both types typically last 12-36 months, include the opportunity to complete Functional Skills if you didn’t get your GCSEs in Maths and English and – at the end – you could be offered a permanent job if you are 18 years or over, or perhaps offered another apprenticeship at a higher level.
An Intermediate Apprenticeship (Level 2) is equivalent to five good GCSE passes, tends to last 12-18 months and often doesn’t require any previous qualifications for entry.
An Advanced Apprenticeship (Level 3) is equivalent to two good A-level passes, tends to last slightly longer and usually requires several GCSE passes as part of the entry requirements.
Important – please don’t assume that because you have done GCSEs you must only consider a level 3 apprenticeship. A level 2 apprenticeship could be an extremely useful stepping-stone into a career sector for which you have no prior experience, and the starting point for a new career path.
Some of the reasons you might be looking for an apprenticeship are:
- Paid employment / Earn while you learn
- Gain transferable skills
- Nationally recognised qualifications
- Working alongside experienced employees
- Learning in the workplace (with trainer/college supervision)
- Potentially also going to a college / training centre depending on the apprenticeship
(1) Apprenticeship Standards – If you want to know if it’s theoretically possible to do an apprenticeship in your preferred career, have a look online at the Government’s apprenticeships standards which lists the approved training courses. A list of apprenticeship frameworks also still exists, but these are being steadily phased out.
(2) Training Company/College websites – Take a look at the college and training company websites because they don’t all offer training in every type of apprenticeship. You’ll find they advertise:
- The approved training which they can deliver – most likely you’d need to find yourself an employer to work for
- Their own apprenticeship vacancies – with a named employer where they are delivering the training
(3) Corporate websites – The larger employers also advertise their own apprenticeships and school leaver programmes.
(4) Find An Apprenticeship – Most apprenticeship vacancies are advertised nationally if you look online for the government-backed Find An Apprenticeship
(5) Careersnearhere.com – And of course there’s Careersnearhere where all the training companies, colleges and employers can advertise their live, local vacancies (for free) on the apprenticeships noticeboards in the relevant careers rooms.
There are plenty of overviews on the Government websites if you search online under apprenticeships.
And on Careersnearhere.com, why not take a look at our informative blogs and at the links at the bottom of the screen for:
- Traineeship and other headings under Post 16 Options
- Apprenticeship (Level 4+) and other headings under Post 18 Options
- Applications and other headings under the Tips section
- Careers Advice & Guidance Online and other headings under Help
There are also relevant videos on YouTube and the internet by some of the major employers and by the National Apprenticeships Service.
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