What is an Apprenticeship? All you need to know about apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships explained

Are you struggling to understand just exactly what apprenticeships are? or how on the job training will benefit you?

Our guides help you to understand all you need to know about apprenticeships from apprenticeship levels, cv tips to why you should become an apprentice.

What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are a form of further education combined with on the job training to allow you to work whilst studying for a nationally recognised qualification and get paid a salary to do so. You can start an apprenticeship post 16 or any other time as long as you match the entry requirements for each level apprenticeship.

Although you will be employed by an apprentice employer or apprenticeship training provider you are only contractually employed with them for the term of your apprenticeship training programme, there is no guarantee you will be offered a full-time job at the end of your training.

Apprenticeships are currently being heavily invested in by the government to encourage both individuals and companies alike to consider the apprenticeship route as a means to further education. Apprenticeships also play a keep role in helping to up skill a future workforce with the skills required to help reduce the skills gap.

Our Apprenticeship guide will give you all the information you need to understand exactly "What is an Apprenticeship?"

So what is an apprenticeship and how will you benefit from studying through the apprenticeship route?

Believe it or not but apprenticeship origins have been around since the 12th Century and the average apprentice starting age was around ten, plus most apprentices lived with their craftsman to begin their apprentice training. However thankfully we now live in the 21st century and times have now changed.

In a nutshell an apprenticeships is a form of further education in the form of On The Job Training where you learn new skills, knowledge whilst being trained by full-time employees and the best bit is you get paid a salary. Now as simple as that may sound there is some more detail to how apprenticeships work and how you can go about finding an apprenticeship thats right for you and your career prospects which we have detailed below.

What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship Definition: An agreement between an apprentice and employer by where the apprentice is paid a wage to learn a new skill, trade or job. Otherwise known as on "On the Job Training".

During an apprenticeship you will also study towards a nationally recognised qualification such as an NVQ, HND or a Degree.

What industries can I start an apprenticeship in?

Traditionally apprenticeships were only offered in specific trades such as Plumbing Apprenticeships or bricklayers and electricians which you would commonly be associated with Construction Apprenticeships. how due to the government investing heavily in apprenticeships and encouraging companies up and down the country to hire an apprentice the available apprenticeship courses has increased dramatically.

There is now over 1,000 different apprenticeship job roles available in over 100 different industry sectors from engineering to accountancy, you name it and there will be an apprenticeship opportunity for you to gain on the job training and kickstart a career.

An overview at just some on the industries offering apprenticeship training opportunities:

What qualifications can I achieve through an apprenticeship?

Apart from on the job training and learning a new skill apprenticeships come with the added benefit of achieving a nationally recognised qualifications. As it is a legal requirement for you to stay in further education post 16 years of age, whether that is staying on at school to study for your A-Levels or alternatively you could do an apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships start at Level 2 or also known as an Intermediate Apprenticeship which give you the option to study towards an NVQ Level 2 which is the equivalent to 5 GCSE's, including Maths and English, plus you will also receive a BTEC Diploma which is a knowledge based qualification.

If you have already achieved 5 GCSEs of grade A-C (4–9 on the new system) which must include Maths and English you may opt to start an Apprenticeship at the Advanced Level 3 which enables you to study whilst working and earning a wage towards the equivalent of 2 A-Level passes. Many people who already have A-Level qualifications decide to start an apprenticeship at the advanced level to gain practical on the job training before advancing to a higher or degree apprenticeship. 

Other Apprenticeship Qualifications include:

  • Higher Apprenticeships (Level 4 & 5) - NVQ, HND, or a Foundation Degree
  • Degree Apprenticeships (Level 6 & 7) - Bachelors and Masters Degrees

How long does an apprenticeship take to complete?

Depending on the level of apprenticeship course you are training in the time it takes to complete your apprenticeship varies depending on the topic you are studying:

  • Intermediate (Level 2) Apprenticeships: Take between 12 and 18 months.  (must be a minimum of 12 months.)
  • Advanced (Level 3) Apprenticeships: Take between 15 to 28 Months.
  • Higher (Level 4 & 5) Apprenticeships: Take between 3 and 5 Years. 
  • Degree (Level 6 & 7) Apprenticeships: Take between 3 and 6 Years.

Register as an apprentice.

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

Set up an apprentice profile and create apprenticeship alerts. If you would like to read about "Apprentice life stories" then head over to our apprenticeship blog.

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.

Frequently asked Questions about Apprenticeships

FAQs about Apprenticeships UK
How much will I get paid as an apprentice?

Apprentice wages over the last few years have grown hugely due to the demand from employers to attract and hire an apprentice. The average salary in the UK for an apprentice is around £15,000 with Apprenticeships in London offering on average £20,000.

Am I guaranteed a job at the end of my apprenticeship training?

Unfortunately nothing in life is guaranteed. During your apprenticeship you are contracted to work for the employer for a set period, the length of the apprenticeship, on completion there is no guarantee you will be offered a permanent job. However what you will have is a qualification and on the job training and knowledge to be able to kickstart your career and if it's not with the current employer there will be others lining up to take you on.

Is there an age restriction on apprenticeships in the UK?

Historically apprenticeships were only for 16-24 years old, but times have changed and there is no restriction on age for apprenticeships. You may have heard of Adult Apprenticeships, this is just a myth as there is no such thing as an adult apprenticeship just merely encouraging people older then 24 to apply for apprenticeship jobs.

Am I entitled to holiday and other benefits as an apprentice?

Yes you are. When you start an apprenticeship with an employer you rare classed as a full-time employee just like your colleagues so you are entitled to employee benefits which include holiday pay.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is 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.


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.