There has been a lot of talk about Apprenticeships over recent weeks as the government push ahead to create 3 million apprentices by 2020. This means increased funding for apprenticeships and a focus on quality alongside quantity as the government seek to make apprenticeships an option on par with university for college leavers. However, on the other hand there are plenty of misconceptions and scare-stories surrounding apprenticeships – such as the idea that it is just a way to get employees on the cheap and the notion that apprenticeships are only for those who want to go into manual work.
Cutting through the hype and the gossip, we ask, what exactly is an apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship is a training scheme with an employer designed to help those over 16 to gain practical skills to do a particular job alongside some additional study. An apprenticeship must last at least 12 months and can be up to four years in length depending on the level of the training. Apprentices must work at least 30 hours per week as often spend one day in classroom-based study.
Apprentices also receive a wage for their work and, although the apprentice minimum wage is lower than the national minimum wage, many apprenticeships pay above the minimum.
There are a wide range of apprenticeships available – with more being added all the time. With more than 1,500 roles in over 170 industries, it is clear that apprenticeships are about more than manual work (although that is offered too!).
Apprenticeships are a mutually beneficial arrangement between both apprentices and businesses, as the apprentices gain the necessary skills to do a job while the businesses get skilled employees who are trained and ready for work.
Many young people will be asking if they should go to university or take an apprenticeship – so it is worth looking at the prospects on the other side of your training or education.
Apprentices have a higher average chance of landing a relevant job upon qualification than their peers who went to university – with many staying with the companies who trained them. There are also no fees to pay to take an apprenticeship as the training will all be paid for. Which means a better chance of work with no debt to service either.
Apprenticeships are offered at a number of different levels to match the academic achievement of the applicants – from GCSE on. However, applying for an apprenticeship is different to applying for further education.
With university, for example, you will be offered a place dependent on your grades, while an apprenticeship is much more like applying for a regular job. You may even be asked to attend an interview. That said, apprenticeship providers understand that school-leavers won’t have built up years of experience, so are more likely to be looking for dedication and a willingness to work and learn – again, just like a regular employer. You can find out more about applying for an apprenticeship here.
The difference between an apprenticeship and getting a job is in the level of support that apprentices enjoy while they learn their craft. Apprenticeships are not ideal for everybody and some jobs may require you to go and get a degree. However, for many others, and particularly those who have a good idea as to what career they would like to get into, apprenticeships can provide the best entry into work.