Apprenticeships explained!

5 mins
July 20, 2022
Did you know the apprenticeship system developed in the late middle ages? A master craftsman was able to employ young people (10 - 15 years old) as a dirt-cheap form of labour in exchange for providing food, housing and training. The idea was that after a 7-year stint under a Master Craftsman, the apprentice would become a master themselves - and so the weird cycle of living with your boss continues…

What is an apprenticeship? 

An apprenticeship is a type of further education; it offers on-the-job training for you to acquire a nationally recognized qualification. You’ll study a minimum of 30 hours a week with an apprenticeship training provider, college, or university.

What are the benefits of an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are structured for you to learn while on the job, so you get paid while being taught. While university students graduate from their 3-year course with a minimum £27k debt, you could graduate with a similar qualification (level 6-7) while making a profit.

Apprenticeships are taught through hands-on, practical work and it could favour physical learners, who thrive while being able to do the task at hand. 

Apprenticeships offer employability skills and you’ll learn teamwork, communication, the rules of the working environment like presentation and punctuality and most importantly to have confidence in your capabilities.

What are the drawbacks of an apprenticeship?

The obvious drawback to any alternative to universities is that some career paths require you to go to university and acquire respective degrees, e.g. medicine or certain forms of science and engineering.

One of the best things about being a university student is the experience. Choosing an apprenticeship means you jump straight into working and skip the opportunity to have late-night parties, and arrive at your Monday lecture: hungover. But then again, not every hustler likes parties.

How do apprenticeships work?

Apprenticeship training will either be administered by a registered training provider or an accredited employer. During your apprenticeship, you will receive a salary and most of the benefits permanent employees receive. Additionally, you will work alongside experienced staff, obtain job-specific skills and get time for training and study related to your role.

The three main apprenticeship structures are:

  • Competency-based: Apprentices achieve certain criteria benchmarks to move forward in the course. 
  • Time-based: Apprentices train for a certain period to acquire certification.
  • Hybrid: Apprentices complete the required hours and establish that they meet objectives.

Apprenticeships have no age limit; so mature students who reconsider their path and want to redirect have the chance. You will still get financial support, so nothing major changes when deciding later in life!

You have the national holiday allowance of 20 days plus bank holidays during an apprenticeship - this is standard in the working world but compared to university students, who will have longer holidays, including summer break - it seems a little mean. On the plus side, you might have the chance of finding an apprenticeship that has regular travel!

Levels of apprenticeships

Where to find apprenticeships?

Choose a training provider or company that you want to work for, or search for your desired subject/role and the main companies that will offer those apprenticeships. For example:

Computing - Check out Fujitsu

Cooking - Go to Greene King

Media production - Say Hi to BBC 

We’ve included some useful links below which will help you with your search:

Find apprenticeships
Apprenticeship finder  
Gov apprenticeships

Or contact a careers advisor to help with your career path and apprenticeship choices.

Things to think about when choosing an apprenticeship

Depending on the level of apprenticeship, the higher the apprenticeship, the higher the salary. This may not be the case in all instances as it depends on how much the employer wants to pay to train an apprentice.

Employers are looking for a similar structure to usual job applications, a CV and a cover letter. For your CV, you can add education and work history (doesn’t have to be official work, but it has to be relevant to the role you are applying for (or show a transferable skill). If you’re struggling to find work experience, we can help! Browse our programmes with industry-leading employers. If you’re worried about what to put on your CV look at your employability skills and highlight ones that you’re most proud of, these could be skills like teamwork, organization, and an eagerness to learn.

Some apprenticeships require you to move away from home or travel abroad, which you need to think long and hard about before applying!

We hope this article helped you understand a bit more about how apprenticeships work and helps you figure out your next steps.

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