Career starters

 Apprenticeships 

Your apprenticeship questions answered

You’ll be employed by a business to do a job where you can gain a formal qualification, usually split by four days a week with an employer and one day a week at a college or training centre.

The current minimum wage for apprenticeships is £4.81 per hour, this rate applies to apprentices under 19 and those over 19 or over who are in their first year. If you are over 19 and have completed your first year you must be paid at least the minimum national wage for your age.

However, many employers offer pay much higher than this with some higher apprenticeships you can earn as much as £500 per week.

There are four levels of apprenticeships these are:

  • Intermediate – Level 2 equivalent to GCSE
  • Advanced – Level 3 equivalent to A level
  • Higher – Level 4,5,6, and 7 equivalent to Foundation degree and above
  • Degree – Level 6 and 7 equivalent to a bachelor’s or master’s degree

Entry requirements vary depending on the apprenticeship and the level, below is a guide, however always check the specific requirements in the vacancy application.

  • Intermediate – over 16 years old and not in full-time education
  • Advanced – At least three A*-C or 9-4 grade GCSEs or equivalent
  • Higher – Usually around five A*-C or 9-4 grade GCSEs or equivalent as well as a some Level 3 qualifications such as AS-levels, BTEC or level 3 NVQ
  • Degree – Three A-levels in a specified grade range or a higher apprenticeship qualification, on top of at least five A*-C or 9-4 GCSE grades. It’s also likely you’ll be required to have prior work experience too.

Work experience is highly regarded by employers and can really help you have the edge of other applicants.

Depending on the apprenticeship and level you take it can take between 1 and 4 years to complete.

There are many businesses who offer apprenticeships locally. These can range from small local businesses to large national companies. Apprenticeships can also be in a range of sectors, from law, engineering, digital to nursing or hair and beauty just to name a few. It's worth thinking about what area you would like to work in and starting your search there. 

Find even more local apprenticeship opportunities.

There are lots of misconceptions about apprenticeships and how the experience compares to the university route. The simple answer is yes, they are both very well respected routes into employment. It is more a question of which direction is right for you?

Consider asking yourself…

1) Does your dream career require a university degree?

2) If not, are there apprenticeships available in the sector I’m interested in?​

Apprenticeships are available in over 170 industry sectors, covering over 1,500 job roles. There are no tuition fees and a salary is paid for the duration of the apprenticeship.

You’re never too old to do an apprenticeship! Apprenticeships are available to people of all ages, making them a great option for anyone looking to change career, improve their skills to secure a new role, or re-enter the labour market after having taken time out for whatever reason.

As the apprentice, you won’t be responsible for any of the training costs and will be paid a salary by your employer. 

If an employer is an apprenticeship levy payer, they can use this to fund the apprenticeship training costs. If not, the government will support the employer in funding the apprenticeship.

Research has found that 85% of apprentices stay in employment after completing their apprenticeship, and 64% of these stay with the same employer.

If you don’t feel quite ready for an apprenticeship, there are a range of traineeships available for people aged 16–24 to help you get the knowledge, skills and experience.
A traineeship is a skills development programme that includes a work placement. It can last from 6 weeks up to 1 year, though most traineeships last for less than 6 months.
They can include help with English and Maths and other key functional skills. Find out more here: Find a traineeship - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)