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Apprenticeships explained

apprentice electricianAn apprenticeship is a kind of work-based training, combining training with real-world work.

As an apprentice, you'll have a job with a company in the area you want to work in. You'll be paid for your work (on average around £170 a week), and at the same time you'll be working towards a qualification like an NVQ or BTEC.

There's no set time for completing an apprenticeship (although it must last at least a year), and the balance of on-the-job learning and outside training depends on the kind of work you're doing.

How many different types of apprenticeships are there?

There are more than 180 apprenticeships available across more than 80 industry sectors. They include areas such as:

Apprenticeship interviews

The best way to find out what an apprenticeship could do for you is to ask someone who's been there already. Read what other apprentices thought of their apprenticeships.

Earn while you learn

Apprenticeships give you the chance to learn - and gain nationally recognised qualifications - while getting a weekly wage.

Pay can vary, but all employed apprentices must receive a minimum of £3.50 per hour. Average pay is usually £170 per week.

No fees to pay

As an apprentice, you won't have to pay for your training - it will be paid for by the government and your employer. This even applies if you aren't 

Are there any drawbacks?

It’s not really a drawback, but you’ll have to judge whether you can commit to the demands of an apprenticeship as it does mean juggling work and study long-term - a period of one to five years.

If you have a degree, you may not be eligible for funding and your employer will have to pay for your training costs.

Finally, there are some limits to the areas you can study compared to full-time education.

How long do apprenticeships last for?

It varies. Most last between one and two years, though some take up to five. How long it takes will depend on the profession you choose, your level of ability and your employer’s needs.

What do apprenticeships involve?

Each apprenticeship involves a structured programme of training leading to a recognised qualification, mixing classroom-based teaching with on-the-job training and experience.

Who can do them?

Apprenticeships are open to people aged 16 and over.

What qualifications do I need?

There are no fixed entry requirements for most apprenticeships. However, most will require some number of GCSEs, and higher or degree apprenticeships will ask for A-levels or an equivalent.

For apprenticeships above intermediate level, you may need to have completed a level 2 qualification - the level of qualification you would get by doing an intermediate apprenticeship in the same area.

What kind of jobs could I end up doing?

There are loads of different jobs available. Just to name a few you could be a music promotion manager, graphic designer, interior designer, software developer, web designer, boat builder, marine engineer, ceramic maker and more.

How do I apply?

The easiest way to find and apply for apprenticeships is through the Apprenticeships website. This has a searchable directory of vacancies, and will let you reuse your information from one application to the next so you don't have to start from scratch each time - although it's a good idea to update your application for the specific job you're applying for.

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