An apprentice job is the "on-the-job part" of an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are programmes that combine hands-on training under the supervision of experienced practitioners with study towards nationally recognised, work-based qualifications like a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ).
Apprenticeships are available to anyone over the age of 16 who is living in England and not enrolled in full-time education.
The apprentice job is the primary part of an apprenticeship, meaning it is what you will spend most of your time doing – with anything from one day every alternate fortnight or two days a week off the job to work towards your relevant qualification.
What are the aprenticeship options available?
Apprenticeships are available across the whole spectrum of industry, from engineering, construction and manufacturing to IT and communications, creative and digital media, health and social care, and more.
Depending on the level of apprenticeship you're undertaking (there are three: Intermediate Level, Advanced Level, and Higher), your ability, the industry sector you're working in and your employer's requirements, your apprenticeship may take between one and four years to complete.
Some facts about apprentice jobs
* You will be required to work a minimum of 30 hours a week, though in circumstances where an apprentice cannot complete the full 30 hours, a minimum of 16 is granted.
* You can expect to earn at least £2.60 an hour (this rate rises to £2.65 an hour from 1 October 2012), though many apprentices earn significantly more than the minimum.
* The average weekly wage for an apprentice is now around £170 and in some job roles about £210 – and, as with any job, your wage will rise as your skills and responsibilities increase.
* As a paid employee you are eligible for benefits that come with any salaried role, like paid holidays and pension contributions.
Apprenticeships are ideal for those who feel they learn best by 'doing' rather than studying, and are increasingly recognised as the 'gold standard' for work-based training, with over 100,000 employers, from large national companies to smaller local outfits, offering apprenticeships in more than 160,000 locations.
The range of apprenticeships on offer is huge – there are more than 200 types, spanning over 1,200 job roles – so, although you're dependent on what's available in your area, it's very likely you'll find something to suit your interests and career plans.
Career prospects for apprentices are very healthy, with 2007 research suggesting that those with an apprenticeship stand to earn, on average, £100,000 more over the course of their working lives than those without.
Many apprenticeships are recognised by Higher Education institutions, too – some already attract UCAS points or allow you to study for a Technical Certificate, and the National Apprenticeship Service is currently working with UCAS to increase the number and range of qualifications gained during an apprenticeship that count towards an individual’s university application.