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What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a paid job where the employee learns and gains valuable experiences.

Alongside on-the-job training, apprentices spend at least 20% of their working hours completing classroom-based learning with a college, university or training provider which leads to a nationally recognised qualification. 

An apprenticeship includes: 

  • paid employment with holiday leave 
  • hands-on-experience in a sector/role of interest
  • at least 20% off-the-job training 
  • formal assessment which leads to a nationally recognised qualification

Who can apply?

An apprenticeship is a great paid work opportunity for people over the age of 16 in England who are:

  • early in their career 
  • looking to upskill in their current job 
  • looking for a career-change
  • not in full-time education

If you do not live in England, check out apprenticeship options in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. 

Apprenticeship levels

Different apprenticeship levels equate to different qualification levels.

An apprenticeship can start at any level, but some may require:

  • previous qualifications such as English or maths GCSEs 
  • additional training in English or maths to ensure the apprentice is at the right level 

Traineeships are a great option for young people who are not yet ready for an apprenticeship because they provide opportunities to gain the relevant skills and experience to take on an apprenticeship and prepare for work.

One of the following qualification levels will be achieved depending on the apprenticeship level:

LevelEquivalent education level
Intermediate 2GCSE
Advanced 3A level
Higher 4,5,6 and 7 Foundation degree and above
Degree 6 and 7 Bachelor’s or master’s degree

Off-the-job training

In England, it is a statutory requirement for an apprentice to spend 20% of their paid time 'off-the-job'. This involves essential training to help the apprentice gain the skills needed to complete their apprenticeship. 

Off-the-job training is delivered by subject experts and can include: 

  • teaching theory (e.g. classroom lessons, lectures and online learning) 
  • practical training (e.g. shadowing, mentoring, industry visits) 
  • learning support and time to write assignments 

The training can take place in or out of the work environment. Some employers will offer in-house training, others may work with colleges, universities and training providers to deliver the training for them. 

The training must equate to 20% of the overall contracted hours for the duration of the apprenticeship. It can be delivered flexibly, for example, as part of each day, once a week, or as a block release.

The employer and the training provider will decide on the most appropriate model. 

Apprenticeship benefits

Apprenticeships are an exciting paid option for anyone wanting to gain experience, upskill or change career because they offer the chance to earn a wage whilst they work and study.  

There are many benefits to completing an apprenticeship, which include:

  • experience and skills development  
  • a nationally recognised qualification (with no tuition fees)
  • employee benefits and a wage
  • exposure to industry professionals 

Apprenticeship wage 

What the apprentice earns will depend on the industry, location and the level of apprenticeship they choose.  

If aged between 16 and 18 or in the first year of the apprenticeship, the apprentice is entitled to the apprentice rate

If the apprentice is 19 or over and has completed the first year of the apprenticeship, they are entitled to the National Minimum Wage

This is the minimum an apprentice can earn, many employers offer their apprentices a competitive salary. 

There are no student loan or tuition fees for an apprenticeship because it is funded by the government and the employer.

The apprentice will need to cover the cost of their day-to-day expenses, such as lunch and travel, however many employers offer a competitive salary to support this.

If the apprentice is 16 to 24 and a care leaver, they will receive a £1,000 bursary payment to support them in their first year of the apprenticeship. 

Finding an apprenticeship 

All accredited apprenticeship vacancies can be found on[ ]([underline]'.

By creating an account, you can sign up to be alerted of opportunities in your area of interest and desired location. 

You can also use this website to browse what types of apprenticeships are available across different sectors.

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