Apprenticeships

If you want to earn some money and get experience in your chosen career, an apprenticeship could be a great option.

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What is an apprenticeship?

Apprentices learn on a job and get paid a (small) wage. As well as on-the-job training, you’ll usually have the opportunity to go to college and study your chosen profession. All apprenticeships end in a qualification.

Who can do an apprenticeship?

In England, anyone over 16 and not in full time education can do an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are also available in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but the details may differ so check each country’s website for more information.

How much will I get paid?

Not loads. But by law all apprentices under 19 must be paid a minimum apprenticeship wage and everyone over 19 or not in the first year of a level 2 or 3 apprenticeship should get the National Minimum Wage. You can find the current apprenticeship wage rates for England on Gov.uk.

How many hours a week do I need to commit?

Between 30 and 40 hours a week, including college time – don’t make the mistake of thinking an apprenticeship is a part-time thing. Some people do manage to work part time in bar jobs along side their apprenticeships to keep the cash coming in, but you’ll be relying on Red Bull to keep you awake in meetings. Not a long-term option.

How long does an apprenticeship last?

Apprenticeships must be at least twelve months long, but could last as long as four years depending on the level of qualification you’re going to get.

What kind of qualification will I get?

All apprenticeships lead to a qualification. There are three different levels – intermediate, advanced and higher (equivalent of a degree). Find out more about the different qualifications available on the apprenticeships website.

What kind of apprenticeships are on offer and how do I find one?

There a lots of different types of apprenticeship in everything from restaurants to web design. Large companies tend to offer big apprenticeship schemes – for example British Gas – but smaller organisations are also beginning to take on apprentices.

Apprenticeships are an increasingly popular option with employers so more are becoming available. But there still aren’t enough and it can be very frustrating trying to find one, so prepare to not get your first choice.

Check the apprenticeships website or the Youth Direct website to see what’s currently available.

What makes a good apprenticeship?

A good apprenticeship should offer you the following:

  • Good support and a manager you can talk to about any issues you’re having
  • A clear framework – what are you going to learn? What’s expected of you?
  • Time to study, ensuring you’re able to manage your daily work load and study commitments
  • Clear communication about how long the apprenticeship will last.

Do I get the same rights as other employees – like maternity leave and sick leave?

Apprentices get the same working rights and conditions as everyone else – find out more on the apprenticeships website.

Does an apprenticeship guarantee me a job?

A percentage of apprentices are taken on by their employers and many more go on to find work elsewhere. But doing an apprenticeship doesn’t oblige the company to take you on.

Next Steps

  • Looking for a mentor to help boost your knowledge and skills? Find a youth zone close to you.
  • Reveal your skills with Define Me and find the right words to tell employers.
  • Download Motimator - an app that helps you get the career you want - by giving you a gentle kick up the ass each day when motivation is running low.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015