Is an apprenticeship right for you?

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Are you considering undertaking an apprenticeship or looking for more information on why it might be beneficial for you to do so? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
 
When exploring your options for further study or career opportunities, it can be difficult to decide exactly what the right choice is for you moving forward. You may have a very clear idea of what you want to do and where you hope your career will lead you but you might not. Should you apply for University and study for the next four-six years to expand your learning further or should you consider moving into an entry level position? It can be a difficult decision and it is one that may potentially impact the rest of your working career.
 
There is, however, another option. An apprenticeship; designed specifically to enable individuals to gain both practical and theoretical experience whilst working directly in the role and/or industry they wish to pursue a career within.
 
If you are interested in an internship you can apply while you are still at school but to start a programme or be considered for such opportunities you will need to meet the following minimum requirements:
  • Aged 16 or over by the end of the summer holidays
  • Living in England
  • Not in full-time study
Different companies will structure their apprenticeships differently and offer different levels which determine the equivalent level of education the programme will provide.
 
Levels of Apprenticeship

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Intermediate Apprenticeship
As the first level of apprenticeships, an Intermediate Apprenticeship offers individuals core basic training and experience in their chosen field. Those who participate in this level of apprenticeship are employed as students and are expected to continue study as part of the programme to aid them with their practical work. While some intermediate apprenticeships won’t require any formal qualifications, it is likely that applicants will be asked to complete a basic numeracy and literacy test if they don’t have their GCSEs in Maths and English. From here, those who successfully complete their Intermediate Apprenticeship often move on to an Advanced Apprenticeship. 
 
Advanced Apprenticeships
Equivalent to an A Level, Advanced Apprenticeships focus on work-based learning. Applicants looking to commence an internship at this level will need to have five GCSEs at a grade C or above. Throughout the programme, apprentices will participate in both work and training, with time often split between work and training. Advanced apprenticeships provide an excellent hands-on approach to learning and enable participants to progress their career through practical application and guidance from industry professionals. Very often students use this as a stepping stone to further study or higher level apprenticeships. 
 
Higher apprenticeship
A higher apprenticeship has an increased focus on the qualifications and learnings of an apprentice compared to earlier levels. Apprentices at this level are employed as full-time workers rather than students but because of the intensity of this apprenticeship, applicants are typically 18 and over, have already completed an advanced apprenticeship or have a minimum of two A-Levels. Previous working experience is also often considered. On completion of a higher apprenticeship, apprentices will have gained, at a minimum, a foundation degree equivalent which will not only advance their career in the role they have been training in but will also enable them to pursue a full undergraduate degree if they choose.
 
Degree Apprenticeship
Similar to a higher apprenticeship, a Degree Apprenticeship combines the benefits of full-time employment with part-time study. At the completion of a Degree Apprenticeship, apprentices have, depending on the length of the contract, one – six years’ experience and a Bachelor degree in their chosen field of work.
 
The benefits of an apprenticeship
When undertaking an apprenticeship the benefits are twofold. First of all, you will be gaining essential practical and theoretical experience in a role or industry you are interested in. Secondly, you will be earning a wage.
 
One of the most difficult things graduates find when looking for work is that they haven’t got the right qualifications or experience and while they are studying find it hard to balance and study at the same time. 
 
Working as an apprentice you will develop invaluable skills and have guided practical experience. You will be working alongside experienced staff and experts from the field gaining job-specific skills as you learn. When you are not training on the job, one day a week you will be allocated time to study in a course or degree related to your role.  In addition to this experience and knowledge, you will also earn a wage and will be entitled to holiday pay. The wage you will receive is set at the National Minimum Wage and you’ll get at least 20 paid holiday days per year, plus bank holidays.
 
If you are looking for an apprenticeship, browse our advice on how to best prepare and then create an account to connect directly to employers advertising their opportunities.
 
* Table 1. www.gov.uk (2017) Become an apprentice https://www.gov.uk/apprenticeships-guide/overview (Accessed 24 August 2017).