There are some great apprenticeship options for young people leaving school at 18 with A-levels, offering something for everyone: be they interested in gaining more academic qualifications, or professional qualifications, and for all interests.
are at qualification Levels 4 and 5 – equivalent to a higher education certificate, higher education diploma or a foundation degree. All levels can include vocational qualifications and academic qualifications. They are a great option for school and college leavers who are looking for an alternative to university.
As a guide, Higher Apprenticeships take at least 12 months, but many programmes last up to 18 months or two years, and some last as long as five years.
On these programmes, apprentices spend most of the time working for an employer and learning on the job, but they will also spend some time at a training institution or college. They will study towards vocational or academic qualifications that are relevant to their job, such as the ATT (Association of Tax Technicians) or the CTA (Chartered Tax Adviser) qualifications – if completing a Higher Apprenticeship with a tax and accountancy firm, for example.
In practise, this might mean apprentices spend two days a week at college and three days in the office or workplace. Alternatively, they might only go to college once a fortnight (or maybe even less). Some employers use a ‘block training’ approach, concentrating the required off-the-job training into weekly or fortnightly slots across the year.
Higher Apprenticeships are available in a wide range of industries and roles, from tax and accountancy to construction management, mechanical engineering, web development and even space engineering. They are especially suited to those who have done well in their GCSEs and A-levels, or who have completed an Advanced Apprenticeship, but want to progress without taking the university route.
Apprentices might work towards a Level 4-6 competence qualification, Functional Skills or a knowledge-based qualification such as a foundation degree, or HND. Qualifications at Levels 4 and 5 are equivalent to a higher education certificate, higher education diploma or a foundation degree.
Usually applicants are required to have a minimum of two A-levels or equivalent, or an Advanced Apprenticeship.
Often, at the end of a Higher Apprenticeship, apprentices will be at the same level as employees who took the university route and then a graduate scheme; and it is likely they will be offered a job with their apprentice employer. If they choose to move on they will have professional qualifications tailored to the industry they have trained in, making them extremely employable.
The Apprentice National Minimum Wage (£4.30 an hour) applies to all 16-18-year-old apprentices and those over 19 in the first year of their apprenticeship; after the first year, those aged 19 or over are paid the full National Minimum Wage for their age group. However, many employers choose to pay more than that and those on Higher Apprenticeships could earn salaries as high as £23,000.
are the latest model of apprenticeship to be developed, seeing apprentices achieving a full bachelor’s or master’s degree – at Levels 6 and 7 – as a core component of the programmes.
While Degree Apprenticeships must last a minimum of one year, the programmes will generally last longer than this – typically up to four years, though there is no fixed maximum duration.
Degree apprentices are not eligible for student loans but their tuition fees are often paid in full, or at least in part, by the apprentice employer. They are also paid a salary as fulltime employees, like all other apprentices. Their time is split between university study and the workplace and will be employed throughout – gaining a full bachelor’s or master’s degree while earning a wage and getting real on-the-job experience in their chosen profession.
Degree Apprenticeships also offer the rare opportunity to gain experience and form working relationships with high-profile, well-respected companies – potentially even more advantageous than the academic qualifications on offer. Applicants have the same standards to meet as university applicants, if not higher. Depending on the apprenticeship, a certain number of UCAS points, often in specific A-levels, will be required, or certain standards must have been achieved on other apprenticeships in a relevant job.
Those completing Degree Apprenticeships are especially employable as each programme has been designed with the industry’s needs in mind. Groups of businesses, universities and colleges develop bespoke degree courses that allow students to build up skills and experience relevant to that particular industry, making them very employable in the future. Apprentices will often be offered a job with their employer at the end of the programme, but if they decide to move on they will have a very attractive set of skills and qualifications with which to progress in their chosen industry.
The Apprentice National Minimum Wage applies to all 16-18-year-old apprentices and those aged 19 and over in the first year of their apprenticeship, which will apply to most young people starting a Degree Apprenticeship. After the first year of the apprenticeship, people who are aged 19 and over must be paid the full National Minimum Wage for their age group. However, many employers will pay more than this: a £16,000 starting salary, for example, with regular pay reviews like a standard employee.
Your child could do a Degree Apprenticeship in many job roles: chartered surveying, electronic systems engineering, aerospace engineering/ software development, defence systems engineering, laboratory science, public relations or even become a solicitor and get a law degree.