What is an Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships have changed over the last couple of years and many people aren’t sure what an apprenticeship involves now. Let’s debunk some of the myths of apprenticeships.

 “Apprenticeships are just for technical/labouring roles such as plumbing, there aren’t opportunities in business functions, digital or creative roles” False

“Apprenticeships are for 16 – 18-year olds only!” False

 “You don’t get any qualifications” False

 “You don’t get paid minimum wage” False


Read on to find out the truth about apprenticeships and you'll find out there’s much more to these roles than many think!

Is it a job or education?

An apprenticeship is a job, you are employed by a company you are not a student. Your apprenticeship will involve a minimum of 20% of your time in off the job training i.e. college or classroom lessons. If you are aged 16 – 18 the government require that you are in full time education or training, an apprenticeship is included in this.

Apprenticeships are available in large and small organisations; your apprenticeships will be managed by the company you are working for and your training provider. Training providers include colleges, universities and private academic institutions. Your training provider will work closely with you and support you by ensuring you are making progress towards your qualification. They will work with your employer to confirm you receive:

  •  An induction programme upon starting
  •  A detailed training plan
  •  Regular progress reviews
  •  Opportunities to put into practice off the job training so you can achieve your qualifications
  • Mentoring and support throughout your apprenticeship

This will all be agreed upon and documented in your individual learning plan.


Apprenticeships are open to everyone over the age of 16, this includes adults and career changers. Apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular with over 25s, some apprenticeships may require candidates to be 18 or over due to the nature of the role.


How long will it take to complete my apprenticeship and how much will it cost?

There are several different apprenticeships, with different qualification levels and specialities in several sectors. The length of an apprenticeship varies because of this, it could take 1 – 6 years to complete your apprenticeship. As an apprenticeship is a job you will have a contract of employment that lasts the full length of your apprenticeship and as such you will be eligible to other work benefits such as holiday entitlement, as a full-time employee you should have a minimum of 20 days annual leave plus 8 bank holidays. Depending on the company’s policy you may also be entitled to other benefits.

You will work a minimum of 30 hours and 20% of this time is off job training, you could work up to 48 hours if you are over 18.

You do not pay anything towards your apprenticeship, you will only need to pay for things that you would in other employment such as travel to work and lunch. Apprentices legally must be paid minimum wage which will vary depending on your age. Many companies offer higher salaries, competitive in their industry market. Once you have completed your apprenticeship you could enjoy increased salaries due to your practical experience.


What do I get at the end of it?

There are a variety of apprenticeships available, in numerous different sectors including, medicine, creative and digital, construction, legal and business and many more. The apprenticeships also range in levels up to level 6 look at the table below for more information on the different levels. You will receive an industry recognised qualification or standard at the end of your successfully completed apprenticeship. There are currently over 70 universities in England offering degree level apprenticeships with more degree apprenticeships being approved. There are many in development now including in the medical industry such as midwifery and pharmacy.

Don’t worry about studying and working at the same time, time to attend off job training must be included within your apprenticeship hours, it is not in addition to your working hours. Your employer must provide you with adequate time to complete your off the job training.


Apprenticeship level = Equivalent to

Level 2 = 5 GCSE passes at grade A* - c or 9 – 4

Level 3 = 2 A level passes/ level 3 diploma/ international baccalaureate

Level 4,5,6 and 7 = Foundation degree

Level 6 and 7 = Bachelor's or Master’s degree


What if I need extra help?

If you have left care or have a disability there is extra support available to help you in your apprenticeship. If you are unable to commit to full time hours you can speak to a training provider and employer about working part time and agree upon your hours before starting. If you work part time the length of your apprenticeship will be extended to allow you enough time to complete the programme successfully.

Th National Apprenticeship service is committed to removing barriers to make sure opportunities are available to all. If you have a education, health and care plan (EHC) or statement of special educational needs (SEN) or have had one in the past there may be flexibility around the maths and english entry requirements apprenticeships require. As with any job you can request reasonable adjustments are made to accommodate a disability, the government provides extra support to training providers and employers to fund this.

If you are under 25 years old when you start an apprenticeship and have previously been in the care of the local authority (for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14) you are eligible to extra funding. You will receive a bursary payment of £1000 to help you meet the extra costs of starting work and support you during your first year this money will not need to be paid back.


At any one time there are over 12000 apprenticeships advertised. Why not take a look at some of the opportunities available and Blaze your own trail!

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