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What is an apprenticeship?

One of the options open to you after the age of 16 is to train through an apprenticeship.

This is a way of learning the skills necessary for various careers while earning at the same time.

An apprenticeship will often suit young people who do not want to go into full-time further or higher education, but still want to gain extra qualifications that are work related.

What type of apprenticeship can I take?

There are more than 190 different occupations in which you can train through an apprenticeship, from animal care to building trades, from administration to catering. Many large organisations now offer apprenticeship training schemes, including:

The type of apprenticeship you can follow will depend on what is available in your local area. Search at the government website for current apprenticeship vacancies in the UK.

Most apprenticeships work towards nationally-recognised qualifications called NVQs and you will often also gain BTEC or City & Guilds qualifications.

What are the different levels of apprenticeship?

There are three levels of Apprenticeship:

Intermediate level apprenticeships are usually completed in under a year, but the time it takes will depend on your existing knowledge and skills, and the type of apprenticeship you are doing.

Where will I learn?

This will depend on the organisation employing you.

Sometimes you will spend four days with the employer and attend college for one day a week; sometimes you may do 'block release' where, for example, you may attend college for two or three week 'blocks'.

Larger employers may have their own training centres and use their own training staff instead of colleges.

What are the entry requirements for an apprenticeship?

For a level 2 apprenticeship you may, though not always, need some GCSE subjects at grades A – C (or 9 - 4 in the new grades system).

For a level 3 programme (called an Advanced Apprenticeship) you will normally need five GCSEs, often including English, Science and Mathematics, or have already completed a level 2.

The entry qualifications are generally set by the employer.

How long does it take to complete an apprenticeship?

Again, this will vary according to the employer, the type of occupation you are training for and the level of Apprenticeship, but Apprenticeships normally take between one and four years.

The length of time taken to complete your training will also depend on your own skills and ability.

What will I earn?

There is no single rate of pay for an Apprentice. It will depend on your employer and your job role, but from April 2018 the national minimum wage rate for apprentices (aged 16 to 18, and those aged 19 or over in their first year) will be £3.70 per hour.

However, some employers pay more than the minimum and the average weekly pay is now about £200.

If you are aged 19 or over and have completed the first 12 months of your apprenticeship, you will be entitled to the national minimum wage rate, which as of April 2018, is:

  • 18 - 20 year olds - £5.90
  • 21 - 24 year olds - £7.38
  • 25 years+ - £7.83

An employer will often contribute to things like books or special clothing and equipment you need and you are also entitled to paid holidays like other employees.

In most cases the rate of pay will increase as you become more skilled and experienced.

What can I do afterwards?

You may progress to a Higher Level Apprenticeship or continue into more highly skilled employment.

After an Advanced Apprenticeship, depending on the qualifications gained, it may be possible to move into higher education.

Further information

For more tips and advice on applying for apprenticeships, please see: