All you need to know about Pre-Apprenticeships and how they support on-the-job training before you commit to an apprenticeship.

Pre-Apprenticeships in the UK: A Pathway to Success

In the ever-evolving landscape of education and employment, apprenticeships have gained prominence as a practical and effective way for individuals to learn valuable skills while earning a wage. However, not everyone is immediately ready for the commitment of a full-fledged apprenticeship. This is where pre-apprenticeships come into play. Let’s explore the concept of pre-apprenticeships in the UK, their significance, the benefits they offer, and how they serve as a stepping stone to successful apprenticeship programs.


Understanding Pre-Apprenticeships

Pre-apprenticeships, often referred to as "pre-apps," are structured training programs designed to prepare individuals for a full apprenticeship. They serve as a bridge between formal education and the workplace, helping participants develop essential skills, gain industry-specific knowledge, and become more employable.


These programs are typically shorter in duration than traditional apprenticeships, lasting anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. They are designed for individuals who may not have the necessary qualifications or experience to directly enter an apprenticeship but have a strong interest in a particular industry or trade.


The Significance of Pre-Apprenticeships


1) Skill Development: Pre-apprenticeships focus on providing participants with a foundation of practical skills and knowledge. This ensures that when they enter a full apprenticeship, they are better prepared to contribute to their workplace.


2) Employability: Completing a pre-apprenticeship program enhances an individual's employability. It demonstrates their commitment to the chosen field and equips them with skills that employers value.


3) Career Exploration: Pre-apprenticeships allow participants to explore various industries and trades before committing to a specific apprenticeship. This can be particularly valuable for young people who are unsure about their career path.


4) Smooth Transition: Transitioning from school or unemployment to a full apprenticeship can be challenging. Pre-apprenticeships ease this transition by providing structured training and support.


Who Can Benefit from Pre-Apprenticeships?

Pre-apprenticeships are inclusive and can benefit a wide range of individuals:


  • School Leavers: For those who have completed their secondary education and are considering their next steps, a pre-apprenticeship can be an excellent choice.


  • Career Changers: Pre-apprenticeships are not limited to young people. Adults looking to change careers or develop new skills can also enrol in these programs.


  • Unemployed Individuals: Pre-apprenticeships can provide job seekers with a pathway to gain new skills and enter the workforce.


  • Those with Limited Experience: Individuals with limited work experience or qualifications can use pre-apprenticeships to bridge the gap and become more competitive in the job market.

Benefits of Pre-Apprenticeships

  • Hands-On Learning: Pre-apprenticeships emphasise practical, hands-on learning, which is highly valued in many industries.


  • Industry Connections: Participants often have the opportunity to network with employers and industry professionals during their pre-apprenticeship, increasing their chances of securing a full apprenticeship.


  • Enhanced Confidence: Pre-apprenticeships boost confidence by giving participants a taste of what their chosen career will entail.


  • Smooth Transition: These programs are structured to provide a seamless transition into a full apprenticeship, making the process more manageable.


Finding Pre-Apprenticeship Opportunities

Now that we understand the significance and benefits of pre-apprenticeships, the next step is to find suitable programs. Here are some tips:


  • Use Apprenticeship Portals: Websites like the one you are currently on, dedicated to apprenticeships, often have listings for pre-apprenticeship programs. These portals can be valuable resources.


  • Contact Training Providers: Reach out to vocational training providers and inquire about pre-apprenticeship options in your desired field.


  • Local Colleges and Training Centres: Many educational institutions offer pre-apprenticeship programs. Contact your local college or training centre to explore opportunities.


  • Employer Engagement: Some employers directly offer pre-apprenticeship programs. Research companies in your area and check their websites or contact their HR departments for information.



Challenges and Solutions

While pre-apprenticeships offer numerous benefits, there are challenges to be aware of:


  • Funding: Some pre-apprenticeship programs may require participants to cover costs. Scholarships, grants, or government funding can help overcome this challenge.


  • Limited Availability: Depending on your location and industry, pre-apprenticeships may not be widely available. Consider relocating or exploring online options if necessary.


  • Competitive Entry: Pre-apprenticeship programs can be competitive, so it's essential to have a well-prepared application and demonstrate your commitment during interviews.



Pre-apprenticeships in the UK are a valuable pathway to successful careers in various industries. They provide individuals with the skills, knowledge, and confidence needed to excel in full apprenticeships and beyond. 


If you're considering a career in a trade or industry, don't overlook the opportunity that pre-apprenticeships offer. Use the resources available to find the right program for you and take that crucial step towards a brighter future. Your journey toward a rewarding career starts with a pre-apprenticeship.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pre-Apprenticeships

Which industries offer Pre-Apprenticeships

1. Construction Industry

The construction sector is one of the prominent industries in the UK that offers pre-apprenticeship programs. These programs often focus on essential skills such as carpentry, bricklaying, plumbing, and electrical work. Participants gain hands-on experience and safety training, which are crucial in this physically demanding field.


2. Healthcare Sector

In the healthcare industry, pre-apprenticeships are available for roles like healthcare assistants, nursing associates, and pharmacy technicians. These programs provide aspiring healthcare professionals with an understanding of patient care, medical terminology, and basic clinical skills.


3. IT and Technology

The IT and technology sector offers pre-apprenticeships for individuals interested in pursuing careers in areas such as software development, IT support, and network administration. Participants learn the fundamentals of programming languages, hardware, and troubleshooting techniques.


4. Hospitality and Catering

For those aspiring to work in restaurants, hotels, or the catering industry, pre-apprenticeships are an excellent choice. These programs cover food preparation, customer service, and hygiene standards, preparing individuals for roles as chefs, waitstaff, or kitchen assistants.


5. Automotive Industry

The automotive sector provides pre-apprenticeships for individuals keen on becoming automotive technicians or mechanics. These programs teach participants about vehicle maintenance, diagnostics, and repair techniques.


6. Manufacturing and Engineering

Manufacturing and engineering pre-apprenticeships are ideal for those interested in careers as engineers, machinists, or production technicians. Participants gain hands-on experience with machinery and learn about manufacturing processes.


7. Business and Administration

In the realm of business and administration, pre-apprenticeships offer foundational knowledge in areas like office administration, customer service, and business operations. These programs are valuable for those aiming to work in office settings or pursue careers in management.


8. Retail Industry

Pre-apprenticeships in the retail sector focus on developing skills relevant to customer service, merchandising, and stock management. These programs can lead to roles as retail assistants or supervisors.


9. Creative Arts and Media

The creative arts and media industry offers pre-apprenticeships for individuals interested in careers like graphic design, digital marketing, and media production. Participants develop their creative and technical skills during these programs.


10. Environmental and Conservation

For those passionate about environmental sustainability, pre-apprenticeships in conservation and environmental management are available. These programs emphasise environmental science, conservation techniques, and sustainable practices.

How long do Pre-Apprenticeships take?

Pre-Apprenticeships in the UK vary in duration depending on the specific program and the industry it's associated with. However, they typically last between 6 to 12 months.

Is there an age restriction for Pre-Apprenticeships?

In short No. Pre-apprenticeships in the UK are generally open to individuals of various age groups. Unlike traditional apprenticeships, which often have age restrictions due to government funding rules, pre-apprenticeship programs tend to be more flexible.

Can I go straight into an apprenticeship after a Pre-Apprenticeship?

Yes, it is possible to go straight into an apprenticeship after completing a pre-apprenticeship in the UK. Pre-apprenticeships are designed to serve as a pathway to apprenticeships and to prepare individuals for the workforce.

Register as an apprentice.

Register to become an apprentice on the UK's leading website for apprenticeships.

By setting up an apprentice profile and creating an apprenticeship alert you'll be one step closer to becoming an apprentice. 

Apprenticeship Levels Explained

Intermediate Apprenticeships

Intermediate Apprenticeships

Intermediate Apprenticeships are your entry level into the world of apprenticeships more commonly known as a Level 2 Apprenticeship. Level 2 apprenticeships offer an excellent route into further education post 16, as an alternative to staying on at school, whilst receiving on the job training and studying towards a nationally recognised qualification.

During your intermediate apprenticeship you will study part-time with a college or a training provider, 20% of your training, towards an NVQ Level 2 and knowledge based qualification such as a BTEC, together these qualifications are the equivalent to 5 GCSE's grades 9 - 4 (A* - C on the old grading system). You will also receive a Level 2 Functional Skills in Maths and English if you don't already have them.

An Intermediate Apprenticeship is great for learning work related skills as apposed to being given more responsibility. This level of training will make you work ready and train you in the hands on skills required to undertake the responsibility of the task and give you the employability skills you need to be successful.

Qualifying Criteria

There is no formal qualifying criteria for a Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship however some employers may ask for a minimum of 2 GCSE's to be able to join their apprenticeship programme.


Advanced Apprenticeships

Advanced Apprenticeships

Advanced Apprenticeships or commonly known as Level 3 Apprenticeships are the equivalent to doing 2 A-Levels and are the next level from an intermediate apprenticeship. Level 3 apprenticeships are great for you to start once you have completed your GCSE's and have attained the correct grades to be able to start at this level.

Starting at the advanced level even if you already have A-levels enables you to gain on the training, of which some employers prefer you to have before starting a Higher or Degree apprenticeship.

Just like an intermediate apprenticeship you will be required to spend at least 20% of your time studying with a college or training provider to be able to achieve the qualifications. On completion of you r apprenticeship you will achieve the equivalent of 2 A-Levels in the form of an NVQ Level 3 and a knowledge based qualifications such as a BTEC diploma.

Qualifying Criteria

To qualifying for a Level 3 advanced apprenticeship many employers ask for a minimum of 5 GCSE's which must include Maths and English, this is why an intermediate apprenticeships gives you these qualifications on completion. Although an advanced apprenticeships is the equivalent of 2 A-Levels some employers may add A-Levels as their requirement at this level also.

Find companies advertising advanced apprenticeship jobs on our website.

Higher Apprenticeships

Higher Apprenticeships

Higher Apprenticeships are your Levels 4 and 5 qualifications and enable you to study towards a HNC or HND respectively whilst at Level 5 you can also attain a foundation degree which is great if you want to continue in your studies towards a bachelors degree.

During your higher apprenticeship training you will be required to studying part-time with a training provider, college or university which along with your on the job training will enable you to train towards a Level 4 or 5 NVQ and BTEC diploma along with their respective HNC or HND qualification. Higher apprenticeships can take up to four years to complete.

As a higher apprentice you will be given a lot more responsibility which may include managing people or teams or even responsible for managing projects. You will be supported by your employer along side your mentors and tutors making sure to advise and guide you along the way during your apprenticeship programme.

Qualifying Criteria

To qualifying for a higher apprenticeship you will need to have achieved and completed at least a Level 3 Apprenticeship or have 5 GCSE's grades 9-4 which must include Maths and English and 2 A-Levels.

Find companies advertising higher apprenticeship jobs on our website.

Degree Apprenticeships

Degree Apprenticeships

Degree apprenticeships were introduced in September 2015 and have been receive with open arms both by employers and apprentices alike. Also known as Level 6 or 7 apprenticeships the degree level apprenticeship enables you to study towards a Bachelors or Masters degree.

You can start a degree apprenticeships straight after your advanced apprenticeship level or alternatively if you want to gain more on the job training before the Level 6 programme you can overlap from a higher apprenticeship programme. Many employers are now partnering with leading universities across the country to offer degree level apprenticeships to help advance your learning opportunities.

Just like studying at university a degree level apprenticeship takes between 3 to 6 years to complete you will achieve this by on the job training with your employer and training provider and then part-time study at the designated university for your apprenticeship course.

Qualifying Criteria

To qualifying for a degree apprenticeship you will need to have at least Level 3 qualifications of 2 A-Levels, NVQ and BTEC or have completely the advanced apprenticeship. Level 6 and 7 are also a natural progression from a higher apprenticeship.

Find companies advertising degree apprenticeship jobs on our website.

What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are a form of further education which offers on the job training for you to gain a nationally recognised qualification whilst studying part-time with an apprenticeship training provider, college or university through workshops or classroom training.

Apprenticeship training has to be delivered by a registered apprenticeship training provider which can also be an employer-provider, where the employer you are training through are on the register of training providers to be able to deliver their own training requirements. If an employer acts as an employer-provider they will usually employ a number of people such as Apprenticeship Assessors, Mentors and Managers to support you through your apprenticeship programme.

During your apprenticeship you will receive a salary and all the other benefits permanent employees receive. An apprenticeship job is only for a specified time as stipulated at the beginning of your apprenticeship training which can last anything from 12 months to 5 years.

To find our more about apprenticeships please refer to our What is an Apprenticeship? guide.

Why should you start an apprenticeship?

If you are considering your post 16 options you probably wouldn't have considered an apprenticeship a few years ago and would be struggling or worrying what to do when you leave school. It is a legal requirement for you to now stay in some form of further education until the age of 18 and you now have three options A-Levels, College or an Apprenticeship.

You can start an apprenticeship at the age of 16 through the Intermediate or Advanced level apprenticeship programmes across many industry sectors from Construction, Technology or even Marketing. There are no entry requirements for the intermediate apprenticeship, however you will need at least 5 GCSE's at grade 4 (previously C grade) or above to qualify for the advanced apprenticeship. On completion of the intermediate you will gain the qualifying criteria for a level 3.

The best reason for starting an apprenticeship is on completion of each level you will receive a nationally recognised qualification from an NVQ all the way up to a degree level apprenticeship such as a Bachelors or Masters.


How can you become an apprentice?

There are a number of ways to become an apprentice so we thought we would list them for you:

  • Register with websites like ourselves, there are others available.
  • Apprenticeship Job Fairs are great for meeting employers and training providers.
  • Contact training providers in your area, a simple Google search "Training providers near me" will give you the information you need.
  • Contact your local colleges or universities or visit their websites to see if they offer apprenticeship training.
  • UCAS promote apprenticeship opportunities on their website on behalf of employers.

and finally......

  • Do some research on apprenticeships and find a topic or industry that you would like to start an apprenticeship in and then research local companies in those sectors and visit their websites to see if they offer apprenticeship training and apply directly with them.