What are Apprenticeships?
Apprenticeships are funded work-based training programmes. As an Apprentice, you will be employed, earn a wage and work alongside experienced staff to gain job-specific skills. Off-the-job, usually on a day-release basis, Apprentices receive training to work towards nationally recognised qualifications. Anyone living in England, over 16 years old and not in full-time education can apply. The minimum salary is £2.50 per hour; however, many Apprentices earn significantly more.
Who are they for?
Apprenticeships are for anyone aged 16 years and over. Whether you are just leaving school, have been working for years or are seeking to start a new career, you just need to be living in England and not taking part in full-time education.
There may be different entry requirements depending on the Apprenticeship and the industry sector. However, competition for places with employers can be fierce, so you will need to show that you are committed and aware of your responsibilities to both yourself and the company who would employ you. You also need to be happy to work as both part of a team and individually, and be able to use your own initiative.
Apprenticeships are designed with the help of employers in industry, so they offer a structured programme that takes you through the skills you need to do a job well. There are targets and checks to make sure that your employer is supporting you and you are making progress.
As an employee you will be in employment for most of your time, as most training takes place on the job. Off-the-job training usually takes place at a local college or a specialist training organisation. You can complete this off-the-job training on a day release basis or over a number of days in a block. The amount of time you spend varies according to your Apprenticeship. It could be anything from one day every other fortnight, to two days every week. All the things you study will be useful in your job and help you succeed in your future career.
There are three levels of Apprenticeship available:
- Intermediate Level Apprentices
Intermediate Level Apprentices work towards work-based learning qualifications such as an NVQ Level 2, Key Skills and, in some cases, a relevant knowledge-based qualification. These provide the skills you need for your chosen career and allow entry to an Advanced Level Apprenticeship.
- Advanced Level Apprentices
Advanced Level Apprentices work towards work-based learning qualifications such as NVQ Level 3, Key Skills and, in most cases, a relevant knowledge-based certificate. To start this programme, you should ideally have five GCSEs (Grade C or above) or have completed an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.
- Higher Apprenticeships
Higher Apprentices work towards work-based learning qualifications such as NVQ Level 4 and, in some cases, a knowledge-based qualification such as a Foundation degree.
All Apprenticeships must include the following elements:
- a competencies qualification which must be achieved by the Apprentice to qualify for an Apprenticeship Certificate, and which is the qualification required to demonstrate competence in performing the skill, trade or occupation to which the framework relates.
- a technical knowledge qualification which is the qualification required to demonstrate achievement of the technical skills, knowledge and understanding of theoretical concepts and knowledge and understanding of the industry and its market relevant to the skill, trade or occupation to which the framework relates. Sometimes an Apprenticeship framework may have an integrated qualification which combines competence and technical knowledge elements in which each element is separately assessed.
- either Key Skills (eg working in teams, problem-solving, communication and using new technology) or Functional Skills (eg maths and English) qualifications or a GCSE with enhanced content (eg maths and English).
The image below shows where Apprenticeships fit into the range of education and training options available from age 14 upwards.