Apprenticeships

Usually lasting between one and five years, apprenticeships are fully paid, full-time jobs that include time to study and work towards relevant, nationally recognised qualifications.

Apprenticeships aren’t just for those interested in entry-level construction, hairdressing or engineering – there are apprenticeship opportunities at every level and in every industry from agriculture, law and accountancy to education, retail, art and even journalism. 

Usually lasting between one and five years, they are fully paid, full-time jobs that include time to study and work towards relevant, nationally recognised qualifications. 

How do apprenticeships work? 

Apprentices will spend at least 20% of their time training towards qualifications relevant to their job; this is part of their working week or month, rather than additional time in the evenings or at the weekends and usually takes place at a separate college, training provider or university.

This might mean apprentices spend two days a week at a local college and three days in the workplace, or they might only go to college once a fortnight. Some employers use a block training’ approach, concentrating the required off-the-job training into weekly or fortnightly slots across the year.

How much do apprentices get paid? 

Apprentices aged 16–18 get paid the National Apprentice Minimum Wage (£4.81 as of April 2022), but young people aged 18+ can continue into Higher or Degree Apprenticeships and these often pay more. Some Higher Apprenticeship employers pay as high as £23,000 per year.

How long does an apprenticeship last? 

Intermediate Apprenticeships are the first level of apprenticeship and generally last around 12–18 months. They are designed to equip apprentices with the skills to thrive in the world of employment and result in a Level 2 qualification, equivalent to five good GCSE passes.

An Intermediate Apprenticeship will improve basic skills too – if apprentices don’t have GCSEs in English and maths, they will usually receive help to take and pass a basic numeracy and literacy test.

The next level up is an Advanced Apprenticeship which is designed for more challenging roles and developing advanced skills. They generally last around 24 months and result in qualifications including a Level 3 competence qualification, a Functional Skills qualification and a relevant knowledge-based qualification. These are equivalent to two A Level passes. 

Which industries offer apprenticeships? 

Apprenticeships are offered in all sorts of areas and industries with all types of companies, from construction and engineering to tourism, publishing and IT. Young people can do an apprenticeship in a huge range of jobs such as civil engineering, travel services, environmental conservation, community arts, live events, marketing, financial services, fashion and textiles, IT software or web and telecoms.

There are even apprenticeship routes into legal and teaching careers: these industries are no longer accessible only via A Levels and university.

Can anyone do an apprenticeship? 

To start an Intermediate Apprenticeship your child should have two or more GCSEs at grades 4–9 or equivalent, including English and maths. Alternatively, they might have to sit a numeracy and literacy test.

Applicants for an Advanced Apprenticeship must have five GCSEs at grades 4–9 or equivalent or have completed an Intermediate Apprenticeship.

What happens when an apprenticeship is complete? 

An apprenticeship might lead to a further apprenticeship at the next level. Alternatively, your child can secure a standard job in the same industry.