Apprenticeships have been big news in recent months – whether it is talk of how they can fill a skills gap in the UK workforce, the impact of the apprenticeship levy, or even how they are increasingly being used to allow entry to professions previously requiring a university degree. But what exactly is an apprenticeship, how much can you expect to earn, and how old do you need to be to take one?
The first thing to note is that an apprenticeship works a lot like a regular job. You will get paid for your work as you train and gain valuable work experience. Admittedly, the amount you can stand to earn may not be as much as when you are qualified, but with no tuition fees to pay as you train, it is easy to see how this is offset by the training you receive. Compared to the many thousands of pounds you would pay for university, this is clearly a more financially sound entry into work.
The on-the-job training is usually supplemented by some classroom-based training too, with most apprentices being given a day away from the job per week so they can head to class. Mixing theoretical learning with genuine experience is one of the great assets of an apprenticeship as it allows you to learn while actually doing the job under guidance from experienced employees.
The choice of apprenticeships on offer has never been wider either – with many professions that were previously only available via university now opening up to the idea of apprenticeships. These include professions such as law, accountancy and nursing.
Apprenticeships come in a variety of different levels, with Higher Apprenticeships being the equivalent to a degree. The three types of apprenticeship level are designed to suit you according to your own education, skills, and experience and go from Intermediate (equal to 5 A*-C grade GCSEs), to Avanced (equal to 2 A-levels) and finally Higher apprenticeships.
In order to qualify for an apprenticeship you must be over 16 and not in full-time education. Apprenticeships tend to offer at least 30 hours of work per week and last a minimum of 12 months, although some apprenticeships may last as long as four years – it all depends upon the complexity of the training and which industry you are entering.
Applying for an apprenticeship is similar to applying for a regular job, so you will need a CV. However, since you are training you won’t be expected to be an instant expert, so show some enthusiasm and dedication and you should be fine.
Once you finish your apprenticeship you will be qualified to do the job you trained for, and many employers happily take on the apprentices they trained as full-time employees. In fact, many employers see apprentices as more employable than other candidates which is shown by the fact that 85% of them stay in work and a third get promoted within their first 12 months at work! These figures compare very favourably with university graduates who often struggle to find appropriate employment once they leave uni.
Apprenticeships are great for those who want to get stuck in right away with their careers or those who like to learn something in a hands-on manner, and apprenticeships are more popular now than ever. With your tuition paid for and a qualification and real work experience gained while you train, apprenticeships are far from being a second-class option for school and college leavers.
Whether you decide an apprenticeship is for you or not, it is certainly worth looking at what options are available where you live – why not have a look at what apprenticeships are currently on offer right here at NotGoingtoUni? It never hurts to know your options!