Apprenticeships: A Comprehensive Guide

In A-Level, General by Think Student EditorLeave a Comment

Apprenticeships are definitely gaining popularity. No longer do students have to go to university to achieve a job in the top earning careers, instead they can apply for an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships allow a different route to get to the same destination and some students may even say that they are even better than university. However, many students have a lack of awareness regarding apprenticeships and may not apply just because they don’t understand the benefits!

If you want to understand the full meaning of the term ‘apprenticeship’ and learn all of the details associated with it, carry on reading, as an apprenticeship might be the perfect route for you, to find your dream career.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a paid job, where the employee gets both on-the-job training as well as classroom-based learning to work towards a qualification. This definition and more details about apprenticeships can be found on the apprenticeship government website, if you click here.

Most of the time, you will be working for your employer if you are taken on as an apprentice. However, at least 20% of your time must be sent learning. This can be done in a school or college.

Therefore, the true purpose of apprenticeships is to combine learning with hands-on experience. This prepares apprentices for the workplace, as they already know how to put their knowledge into practice.

How long do apprenticeships take to study?

Depending on the level of apprenticeship you do, an apprenticeship can take one to five years long to complete! There are different types of apprenticeship levels, and this affects how long each apprenticeship will take.

For example, an intermediate apprenticeship can take about twelve to eighteen months to complete. In comparison, an advanced level three apprenticeship can last about two years.

However, the length of time each apprenticeship takes depends on the type of role you will be fulfilling and of course, the employer.

With a full time apprenticeship, you could be working for thirty hours a week, whilst a part-time apprenticeship would be less. You can find out more information about working hours on the UCAS website, if you click here.

What are the different levels of an apprenticeship?

Learning about all of the different levels of apprenticeships can definitely be confusing. Apprenticeships in the UK range from level 2 to level 7.

The lower levels result in lower qualifications, whereas the higher levels can be equivalent to degree level. The lowest level of an apprenticeship is the intermediate level.

This is equivalent to a GCSE qualification. You can discover which apprenticeship levels you can complete before or after your GCSE qualifications on this Think Student article.

The second is an advanced level. This is equivalent to an A-Level. The third level is known as the higher level. This includes levels 4,5,6 and 7 apprenticeships and is equivalent to a Foundation degree and above.

Finally, degree level is the highest. This includes levels 6 and 7 and is equivalent to a bachelor’s or master’s degree. The different levels of apprenticeships can be explained in much more detail if you click here to read an article explaining these on Think Student.

What types of apprenticeships are there?

As already stated, there are four major different types of apprenticeships, each equivalent to the different levels. These are intermediate, higher, advanced and degree apprenticeships.

Check out the following headings to learn more about what each of these terms mean. You can also check out this Think Student article to get more of an overview.

What is an intermediate apprenticeship?

This is the equivalent of 5 GCSE passes and is classed as a level 2 apprenticeship. In order to be accepted into an intermediate apprenticeship, you must be 16 or over.

You don’t actually need any formal qualifications in order to complete this level. However, if you don’t have GCSE English and maths, you will have to take a functional skills course along with the apprenticeship.

More information can be found on this guide from UCAS.

What is an advanced apprenticeship?

This is known as a level 3 apprenticeship and is equivalent to 2 A-Level passes. In order to apply for this apprenticeship, you need to have at least 5 GCSEs at a pass or above.

They are more advanced than intermediate apprenticeships and may involve even more challenging roles. To learn more about advanced apprenticeships, check out this article by Rate My Apprenticeship.

What is a higher apprenticeship?

This term explains apprenticeships between the levels 4 and 7. In order to be eligible for a higher apprenticeship, you need to have completed your A-Levels and GCSEs.

Most people who complete higher apprenticeships get a permanent job from their employer. This means you are able to get a head start in the industry you want to go to! To learn more about these, check out this article by Career Pilot.

What is a degree apprenticeship?

During a degree apprenticeship, you combine working for a company and studying towards a university degree. It is completely free to complete, meaning you will achieve a degree without paying university fees.

More detail about degree apprenticeships can be found on the Think Student website, if you click here.

Do you get paid for an apprenticeship?

Simply put, of course you get paid for an apprenticeship! This is because it is basically a job, as you are an employee. You just happen to be learning and studying at the same time.

Every apprenticeship scheme will pay their apprentice, however the amount depends on the type of job role you are practising and the level of apprenticeship.

Getting paid during an apprenticeship is a right. You will also be entitled to other rights, such as readily being given time for training and receiving paid holidays. An apprentice should be treated like an employee because an apprenticeship is a job!

If you want to find out more information about being paid as an apprentice, check out this article from Think Student.

What is an apprenticeship wage?

Depending on the type and level of apprenticeship, the amount of pay you receive can vary. The current minimum wage for an apprentice aged sixteen to eighteen years old is £4.81 per hour. This is also true for nineteen year old apprentices in their first year of an apprenticeship.

However, if you are over nineteen years old and have completed one year of your apprenticeship, your wage will be higher. More information about this can be found on the government website if you click here.

Do you have to pay for an apprenticeship?

The answer is no! You do not have to pay for an apprenticeship at all. Due to you becoming an employee when you become an apprentice, you are the one that is getting paid.

You are being paid to learn the specific job role and you will be conditioned to work in the way the company wants you to. This means you will be a valuable asset to the company once you finish an apprenticeship.

As a result, you don’t need to pay! Check out this article from Think Student to find out who really does pay for apprenticeships.

Can you get a student loan for apprenticeships?

Sadly, you are most likely unable to receive a student loan if you are completing an apprenticeship. This is because you are being paid for your time. As already discussed, being an apprentice is quite similar to having a job.

This means that your wage should cover all of your living costs. Therefore, you are not eligible to receive a maintenance loan either.

Your education will also be free if you are participating in a degree apprenticeship. This is due to the fact that your employer will be paying for your education.

However, you need to be aware that you could still experience money struggles, despite being paid. This is because sometimes employers can take advantage of apprentices, only paying them a small amount.

For more information about student loans and apprenticeships, check out this article from Think Student.

Are apprenticeships respected by employers?

The way different employers view apprentices is quite subjective, depending on each individual employer. However, most employers see students who have done apprenticeships as valuable assets to their businesses. This is because not only do apprenticeships teach you about the company, they also provide you with experience.

Of course university is respected by employers because it shows that you can work hard and achieve a degree. However, apprenticeships show that you have also had hands on experience and are ready for the work place immediately.

In fact, many statistics show that employers actually prefer apprentices. According to the government apprenticeship website, 86% of employers said apprenticeships helped them to develop skills relevant to their organisation.

Further to this, 78% of employers actually said that apprenticeships helped them to improve productivity. The government apprenticeship website has more information about this if you click here.

Therefore, it’s no wonder that employers are eager to give out apprenticeships. Check out this article from Think Student to discover how you can find an employer.

How do you apply for an apprenticeship?

It is actually a very easy process to apply for an apprenticeship. A simple way to do this is to create an account on the find an apprenticeship service. You can click here to go to the government’s ‘find an apprenticeship’ tool if you want to create an account now.

You can use this website to search for different apprenticeships and if there are any that you like, you can save them. Alternatively, if you see an advert for an apprenticeship on an employer’s website, you can apply for this directly.

When you have found your dream apprenticeship, you need to submit a CV and a cover letter. Remember, an apprenticeship is just like a job, therefore, your CV needs to be up to scratch!

It is actually beneficial to apply for more than one apprenticeship. In fact, apply for as many as you can! This means you are more likely to get one. Check out this Think Student article to learn about how to apply for an apprenticeship in more detail.

Who can apply for an apprenticeship?

The truth is, to become an apprentice in the UK, you just need to be 16 years old or over. You also need to not be in full-time education.

This means that anyone over the age of 16 can apply for an apprenticeship!  However, most people who do apprenticeships are aged 16-24. Therefore, apprenticeships are great options because they are accessible to everyone.

However, you need to make sure that an apprenticeship is the right career path for you. As long as you are interested in the type of apprenticeship you are applying for and have the right qualifications, you are allowed to apply.

For more information about who is able to apply for an apprenticeship, check out this article from Think Student.

What are the common misconceptions about apprenticeships?

Many students have a skewed idea about what apprenticeships really are. What you may think about apprenticeships might not be the truth at all. For example, here are the top five most common myths:

  • Apprenticeships are for people who don’t do well at school – This is quite widely believed, however not the case at all! Apprenticeships can be just as challenging as degree qualifications.
  • Apprenticeships are only for the construction or trade industry – This myth is definitely not true. Apprenticeships are now opening up in many different career sectors.
  • Apprenticeships are only for young people– As already stated in this article, there is no age limit for an apprenticeship! Anyone over the age of 16 can apply for one.
  • Apprenticeships don’t offer the same job opportunities as degrees – Apprenticeships can be just as valuable and just as challenging as degrees. Don’t be put off by other people’s views!
  • Apprentices only do menial or low skilled work – This is a well spoken viewpoint about apprenticeships. However, the truth is that apprentices are valuable assets to companies and are given varied job roles in order to acquire the most skills.

As you can see, there are many misconceptions about apprenticeships and what your role will look like as an apprentice. Therefore, do not let other people’s viewpoints on what an apprenticeship is affect your choices.

To learn about more misconceptions of apprenticeships, click here to visit the NHS Gloucestershire website.

What are the pros of apprenticeships?

There are many benefits from doing an apprenticeship. Here are the five main pros:

  • You can gain lots of experience – Hands-on training means that you may be even better prepared for certain jobs than university students! Apprenticeships can definitely help you prepare for the real world.
  • You will have more skills – Working in a work-place environment means that you will most likely develop skills that employers look for.
  • You will earn money whilst learning – This is one of the main benefits, earning while you are gaining skills is a bonus.
  • You will have no debt – Unlike university students; you do not have to pay for your education, meaning you won’t be in debt!
  • Your confidence will increase – Getting thrown into the work place can seem scary at first. However, these challenging new experiences will prepare you for the real world and knowing you have a secure job will definitely remove stress.

What are the cons of an apprenticeship?

Sadly, apprenticeships are not perfect and there are some drawbacks. Check out this list to discover the main cons:

  • You will not get access to certain careers – If you do an apprenticeship in a very specific field, you may not be able to transfer your qualifications to a different career role.
  • The competition is tough – Actually being accepted into an apprenticeship is very hard because so many people apply for them!
  • The salary is lower – When you first start an apprenticeship, the salary may seem quite loq. This is compared to graduates, who will probably begin with a higher salary.

It is up to you whether you think the pros outweigh the cons or not. If you want to find out more detail about the benefits and drawbacks, check out this article from Think Student.

Should you study an apprenticeship?

Now you have learnt all about apprenticeships, it is time for you to make the decision about whether you should apply for one or not.

To make your decision, you need to think about key factors. For example, do you feel ready to work? Or do you think it would be better to spend more time in a school environment, such as university?

You need to make sure that you have researched all of your other options too. For example, you may be more suited to T-Levels. You can find information about the differences between T-levels and apprenticeships on this Think Student article if you are curious.

Internships are another valid choice and you can find information about them on this article from Think Student. Ultimately, the decision about whether you should study an apprenticeship depends on you.

You can receive some guidance from this article on Think Student, which gives a student’s own opinion. However, you need to consider all of your options to decide what educational path you want to take next.

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