In the UK there are many alternatives to traditional education routes and one such route is taking an apprenticeship. If you are unfamiliar with this term, an apprenticeship allows you to have a job where you can learn many practical skills. At the same time, you will continue with your education. Although there is no age limit, most apprenticeships will be aimed towards students aged between 16-24. There are many different levels of apprenticeships offered in the UK. After finishing one, lots of people feel inclined to progress on to a second apprenticeship at a higher level.
Before starting a second apprenticeship, you must either complete or leave your current apprenticeship. This is because government funding will only fund one apprenticeship at a time. When leaving an apprenticeship, you may be interested in starting a new one in a different occupation. In this case, the government will fund you if the second apprenticeship is at the same level as your previous one. Some jobs will require multi-skilled apprentices who will need to do a second apprenticeship. The government will only fund this in certain circumstances.
Apprenticeships have only recently started to rise in popularity so you may have lots of questions regarding the different levels of apprenticeships and how the system works. Read on to find out more about funding for apprenticeships.
Table of Contents
Can you take more than one apprenticeship?
Although apprenticeships are structured differently from degrees and other, they still require the same amount of work. You may be interested in doing two apprenticeships at the same time. However, this is generally advised against unless they are both studied part-time.
Most apprenticeships are offered full-time. This can make it difficult to find two courses which can be studied alongside each other. Check out this article from Think Student to learn more about the advantages and the drawbacks associated with doing multiple apprenticeships.
The traditional system is to take GCSEs, then A-Levels and then go on to university degree. In a similar way, you can work your way up the apprenticeship levels. The lowest level of an apprenticeship Level 2, which usually doesn’t have any specific entry requirements. The highest level of an apprenticeship is Level 7, which usually requires a degree-level apprenticeship to take. This article explains all the apprenticeship levels available.
Apprenticeships tend to be more vocational and could narrow your future job prospects. For this reason, some people choose to do another apprenticeship in a different job sector. The structure of an apprenticeship includes working in a real job. This allows you to get a sense of whether a job in this industry would suit you.
This is especially important as many apprenticeships could lead to a full-time job offer if your employer feels you have done well enough. Many job sectors and reputable companies like Google offer apprenticeship schemes. There is no limit on the number of industries you can complete an apprenticeship in.
In some cases, your employer may fund and support you to take on further apprenticeships related to your current apprenticeship and future job. Check out this article for more information about the different types of industries you could have an apprenticeship in.
Can you get funding for an apprenticeship?
You will be pleased to know that an apprentice aged between 16-24 does not have to pay for their apprenticeship themselves. In fact, apprentices are actually paid as part of their apprenticeship and this money comes from their employer. The costs of training will be covered by the government.
If an organisation has a pay bill of more than £3 million per year, they pay 0.5% of that towards supporting apprenticeships. This is in the form of the Apprenticeship Levy, which the government uses to fund apprentices. Even if an organisation does not pay the Levy, they can still receive funding from the government. These rules vary depending on where you are based in the UK.
In England, if an employer does not pay the Levy, the cost to train an apprenticeship will be shared with the government. 95% of funding will come from the government whilst the remaining 5% must come from the employer. For small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, the government will pay 100% of the cost of training.
Check out this article from GOV.UK for a thorough step-by-step guide on how organisations arrange funding for their apprenticeship schemes.
This still applies to degree-apprenticeships. By the end, you will have a bachelor’s degree, possibly a full-time job with the company and most importantly, no debt. If you want to learn more, check out this page from the University of Exeter for information on how they offer their degree-apprenticeships.
How to apply for an apprenticeship
Most apprenticeship applications are advertised in January or February, so ideally you should start making applications in March. However, applying to apprenticeships is not always as clear as applications to university. There are so many more options. Fortunately, there are many websites that you can sign up to in order to find apprenticeship vacancies.
This article on the UCAS website is a good place to start. This provides a general outline of the steps UCAS suggests you go through when applying for your first apprenticeship. These steps are as follows:
- Sign up to a career finder – this will lead you to lots of apprenticeship opportunities or read this article for more ideas on where to find an employer
- Find an apprenticeship which suits you – make sure you do lots of research into different courses in the same field
- Make your application – this article explains how the process of applying in detail
- Track your application
Although you don’t need to know exactly which job you want, it’s a good idea to know which field you want to enter. This will help you narrow down your choices so you can pick the right apprenticeship for you.
There are many differences when applying to university and an apprenticeship. You may want to apply for both. University applications usually require a personal statement and sometimes an interview. However, when employers select apprentices, they require a CV, a covering letter and an interview.
Part of university applications is applying for maintenance loans and student loans. However, unlike students taking degrees, apprentices cannot apply for maintenance loans as their salary will cover the cost of living. This article by Think Student offers more details on the financial aid that you could be eligible for as an apprentice.
What happens when you leave an apprenticeship?
Whilst the perks of an apprenticeship are attractive to many, you may reach a point where you lack the enthusiasm to continue. You may even want to go to university or into full-time work instead. This does not necessarily put you in a bad position. However, you will not be able to get the qualification even if you decide to leave near the end of the apprenticeship.
Fortunately, there is no need for you to pay back the training fees or exam costs if you leave before completion. Before making your decision to leave, you could speak to your employer about a non-apprentice position at the company you already work at. Some people do not enjoy the apprenticeship training but do enjoy the working aspect of the course. If you agree with this, full time employment could be your next choice.
The main purpose of an apprenticeship is to give you a glimpse of the working world and to equip you well for it. There is nothing wrong with considering all aspects of an apprenticeship and deciding it is not right for you. Your subject interests and working style preferences will change throughout the course of your career.