Meeting the skills shortfall with Apprenticeships
What is an Apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship lets you get on-the-job training and study for qualifications at the same time. When you do an apprenticeship, you are an employee of the company that trains you, which means you will get paid at least £3.30 an hour, and often a lot more.
Employers are fans of apprentices because they finish up their training with bags of real life work experience. Because it is their aim to hire you as a permanent employee, employers work hard to give you all the skills you need to do your job.
The government is pushing to get 600,000 young people into apprenticeships each year between now and 2020.
This means there’s a good chance you can find an apprenticeship that fits your future plans.
How old do you have to be to do apprenticeship?
You can become an apprentice from the age of 16 and up to any age. This is because an apprenticeship is a full-time job so you need to have finished school to start one.
If you want to do a higher or degree apprenticeship instead of university, the chances are you’ll do A-levels or a lower-level apprenticeship before starting aged 18.
What are the different types of apprenticeship?
It might seem like there are a million different kinds of apprenticeship out there, but it all breaks down into four basic levels:
- Intermediate: Like studying for up to 5 GCSEs.
- Advanced: Like studying for 2 A levels.
- Higher: Like taking a level 4 NVQ, Higher National Diploma or Foundation Degree.
- Degree: Like taking a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.
What qualifications do I need to apply for an apprenticeship?
This depends on the level of apprenticeship you’d like to do. The exact requirements are very much dependent on the course you want to apply for, so while this guidance will help, make sure you find out all about your apprenticeship before applying.
If you’re kicking off with an intermediate apprenticeship, you might not need any formal qualifications.
You need to have “functional skills qualifications” in at least English and Maths. These are a bit like GCSEs, and if you don’t already have them we can help you get them as part of your apprenticeship training.
If you already have a C or above in GCSE Maths and English you won’t need to do this.
If you’re applying for an advanced apprenticeship, you will normally need to have completed an intermediate one, or have around 5 GCSEs at A*-C.
Higher and degree
If you’re after a higher or degree apprenticeship, you’ll either need to have done an advanced one already, or have a couple of A-levels passes or a level 3 NVQ.
If you’re doing your A-levels and want to do a higher or degree apprenticeship, don’t worry! You don’t need an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship. A higher or degree apprenticeship is a great next step after your A-levels, and as long as you pass two courses with a C or above, you probably have what you need.
How long will it take to train as an apprentice?
It can take anywhere from one to four years to complete an apprenticeship. How long it takes depends on the level you are training at and what skills and qualifications you have already.
Will I get paid as an apprentice?
Yes! The great thing about apprenticeships is that you have an employer – and they have to pay you by law.
Employers must pay apprentices under 24 years of age at least £3.30, and if you’re over 19, you’ll start on the national minimum wage, which rises again at 21. The best-paying degree apprenticeships start at £25,000.
What is an apprenticeship like?
As an apprentice you’ll do the majority of your learning on the job whilst at work. Depending on your vocational area you may be required to attend our training centre one day a week, usually a Friday.
Most of your assessment is done in the workplace but you might have to take some exams too.
What qualifications will I get as an apprentice?
Apprentices finish their training with all kinds of national qualifications including:
- Functional skills: GCSE level qualifications in Maths, English and IT.
- National vocational qualifications (NVQs): From level 2 (similar to getting around 5 GCSEs) right up to level 5 (similar to a postgraduate degree).
- Technical certificates: Like a BTEC or City & Guilds Progression Award.
- Academic qualifications: Like a Higher National Certificate (HNC), Higher National Diploma (HND), a Foundation degree, or a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree if you do a Degree Apprenticeship.
How do I find an apprenticeship?
First off, read our article on how to find an apprenticeship, which explains in detail the different ways you can find the right apprenticeship for you.
Lots of employers offer the chance to apply for apprenticeships directly on their websites, so it’s important to do your homework and job search online. You can check out the apprenticeship vacancies section on our site to find an apprenticeship you can apply for now.
If you have a careers adviser in school, talk to them about apprenticeships early on as they will be able to tell you what’s available in your local area, alternatively contact us directly and we can help answer any questions you may have concerning apprenticeships and how to access them.
Can I apply for an apprenticeship on your website?
NSPP regularly update our apprenticeship vacancies page, if you don’t see something you like ensure you revisit regularly, alternatively contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01457 238014.
Check out our apprenticeships listing to see what you can apply for today.
I have lots of other questions! Where should I start?
We think we’ve answered the question “what is an apprenticeship?” pretty thoroughly. But we’ve got loads of resources to help you plan, find an apprenticeship and make a stellar application. We’ve grouped them by topic below to be super helpful!