In the current education system, there are more people choosing to go to university than ever before, and this can put a lot of pressure on people who don’t feel as though this is the right choice for their individual needs.

However, if you don’t want to continue studying to university level, then a higher level apprenticeship could be just the thing for you.

There are many benefits, including on-the-job experience with no fees, and qualifications that are of the same level as completing a degree. If this sounds like something that you would be interested in, this guide should help you to make your decision.

What is an apprenticeship?

You may have heard of people opting to complete apprenticeships, but unless you’ve done research of your own, there’s a chance that you don’t really understand what they’re all about.

To put it simply, an apprenticeship is an excellent way to mix learning and working, in a course that mixes classroom based learning and practical training to help you prepare for the workplace.

An apprenticeship is an actual job, where you will get paid for the hours that you work.

You will be spending at least 30 hours out of each week in the workplace, and you will learn how to do the job alongside other people who have plenty of experience – meaning that by the time your training is over, you will be capable of working in that industry, whether you stay in the place that you trained, or seek work elsewhere.

In addition to the work that you do while at your place of work, you will also be given written assignments to do, and may attend classroom lessons or be expected to study online. Both parts of the course are important, and you will be assessed on each of them.

How long will my apprenticeship take?

Unlike other types of qualifications, there is no set time limit that it will take, although you should undertake training for at least a year before anything is awarded to you.

The actual time that you spend training will depend on the industry that you’re working in, and how quickly you learn the various skills that are necessary to do the job. Some apprenticeships can take up to five years in total to complete.

What are the benefits of an apprenticeship?

One of the main reasons that people choose to undertake an apprenticeship is because they get paid for doing so. If you are under the age of 19, or are in your first year of training, then you are entitled to £3.50 per hour, including any training that is related to your course.

If you are in your second year or further of training, and you are older than 19 years old, then you will be paid at least equal to the minimum wage for your age group.

For many, this means that they are able to live a good quality lifestyle while training, which is something that attracts people to the option of an apprenticeship. Not only this, but there are no course fees, which means that a loan doesn’t need to be taken, which can therefore lower the amount of debt later in life.

In addition to the payment, if you are an apprentice you will be entitled to holidays each year, of at least 20 days. This puts you around the same level as those who are directly employed by the company. You will, however, be expected to work full time, as opposed to university courses that offer long holidays during the year.

The qualification that you gain at the end of your apprenticeship is another huge attraction to the option – and these are the same level as you would expect from a degree course.

Many people who have completed an apprenticeship will find that they are better able to find work at the end of the course because they have practical experience alongside their academic studies, and this is something that people who had completed a degree course might lack.

What can I do once I have finished my apprenticeship?

Once you have finished your course, you will be qualified to work within the industry that you have trained in.

This means that you will have an excellent chance of securing paid, contracted work. Many apprentices find that they are offered a role within the company that trained them – as they know better than anyone what they are capable of.

Thanks to the fact that you will almost certainly be looking for work once you have completed your course, it is always vital that you make the effort to connect with people during your course if you can.

This means that when you are looking for work, you will have the contacts in the industry to help you to find it.

Should I take an apprenticeship?

The great thing about an apprenticeship is that there are very few things that would rule you out. So long as you are over 16, and you can show the employer that you are committed to doing well on the course, you should be able to secure a place.

An apprenticeship would be great for anyone who has practical skills within a specific industry, but might struggle with the rigorous academic study that undertaking a degree course would demand.

Not everybody enjoys academic studies, and an apprenticeship would give you the chance to learn in a way that suits you.

It could also suit those whose financial situation wouldn’t be able to pay course fees. This may be the case if you have your own property and pay a mortgage, or if you have a family.

The lack of course fees and promise of payment during an apprenticeship makes studying possible for people who may have previously ruled themselves out for some reason.

If you are interested in doing an apprenticeship, then it is worth getting in touch with specific people in the industry you wish to work in to see what is available.

Doing so would mean that you have an idea about what is available, and you could find that signing up to a course would open doors that you always believed would be firmly locked.

Further information

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