Guide to Apprenticeships [with support + advice]

20 May 2024

Navigating the transition from education into full time work can be daunting . Increasingly, huge amounts of school leavers are encouraged to sign up to university courses to help them find a fulfilling career. But university isn’t for everyone.  

In reality, plenty of great options are available for young people to explore, and an apprenticeship may be a perfect choice. 

You may discover that your learning style and career goals are best suited to an apprenticeship.  

What is an apprenticeship? 

An apprenticeship combines a paid job with off-the-job training to gain experience and qualifications. They are particularly good for helping people enter new careers or sectors.   

What are the levels of apprenticeship? 

Apprenticeships in the UK are available in almost every industry and there are plenty of opportunities to progress. The below graph demonstrates that the higher Apprenticeship qualifications can get you the same level of qualifications as postgraduate academic study.  


Who are apprenticeships for? 

Apprenticeships are open to all aged over 16 years old that have left secondary school. There is no official age cap on who can apply. 

Entry requirements will vary between different apprenticeships. However, many act as entry-level employment and welcome people with little to no qualifications or experience.   

What are the benefits of an apprenticeship? 

There are a variety of benefits to completing an apprenticeship, including: 

Having a fully funded apprenticeship means you will begin your career free of debt and get the experience of earning money and managing your own finances.  

Rather than paying for education, an apprenticeship means you are paid for time spent learning.  

If you struggle with focusing in the classroom, an apprenticeship is an excellent chance to learn practically. Apprenticeships do include study but all of what you’ll learn here will reflect and reinforce what you have learnt working (source). 

Because apprenticeships are real jobs, you're gaining work experience which employers value. Putting you ahead of the competition when it comes to your next career move or job opportunity.  

A staggering 92% of apprentices either stay on with their employer or go on to find immediate work elsewhere. When they do move companies, it is typically because they can now compete for better pay, conditions and responsibilities (source). 

What are the laws surrounding apprenticeships? 

To apply for an apprenticeship, you must be 16 or over. Apprentice wages range from employer to employer, and depend on your age and experience, but all employees must pay the relevant minimum wage.  

How long does an apprenticeship take? 

The length of an apprenticeship is dependent upon many factors including the level of your apprenticeship. 

They are typically between 1 and 5 years in total, with the more advanced apprenticeship programmes often taking 3 or more years. This may appear like a long time but in reality, it is equivalent to the average years spent at university. Except you will earn money as you go! 

How to get an apprenticeship 

Applying for an apprenticeship includes similar steps to applying for any other job. Most typically involving an application form, CV, cover letter and interview.  

Best of luck exploring apprenticeships to start your career! 

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