Apprenticeships are ideal if you have a clear idea of the career you’d like to pursue, and you’re willing to commit to work and study. Unlike in school, at college or on a traditional degree course, the majority of your learning will be through on-the-job training in your place of work.
To be considered for an apprenticeship programme in England, you need to be:
- aged 16 or over
- living in England
- not in full-time education
Apprenticeships would suit someone who:
- has a clear idea of the type of career they wish to pursue
- is willing to commit to work and study, but would prefer a more practical and work-related approach to learning
- is ready to start work with an employer, and be based in the workplace most of the time
- is well organised and able to cope with the competing demands of work and academic study at the same time
- is ready to be assessed through a mix of assignments and written work, including essays, reports, practical exercises, end tests, and exams
No matter what kind of career you want to follow, you need to do your research and find out if you can reach your career goals through an apprenticeship, or if you need/would prefer to study full-time at university or college.
Apprenticeships aren’t the ‘easy’ option. Holding down a full-time job and studying takes commitment and hard work, and it won’t be right for everyone. You’ll need to prove yourself in the workplace, while getting to grips with studying for a higher level qualification. You’ll be expected to achieve academically and at work, managing your time and adjusting to longer hours, with fewer holidays than at school, college, or university. You might have to travel or relocate to find the right opportunity for you.
Advantages and disadvantages
|Apprenticeships offer a direct alternative to full-time higher education for those who would prefer to start employment.||It can be difficult to balance academic study with work commitments — you need to be well organised!|
|You can earn a wage while completing a higher education qualification, and you won't have to pay tuition or course fees.||Although you will study a higher education qualification, your experience of student life will be limited compared to those attending full-time courses at university or college.|
|You will gain real knowledge, skills, and experience required for specific careers, and possibly professional accreditation.||You need to have a clear idea of the type of career you wish to pursue, as this is a vocational qualification.|
|Your investment in high level training and study can provide a long term career path and increase your earning potential.||There is the possibility you may have to pay back your course fees if you decide to leave your apprenticeship early.|
|Your work experience, transferable skills, and high level qualifications may leave you well placed to obtain employment in a number of related careers.||The initial apprenticeship wage you start on may be quite low compared to other employment, and you'll need to cover your day-to-day living costs, rent, travel costs, equipment, and materials. Tax and National Insurance contributions will come out of your salary.|
Into Apprenticeships — Guide for disabled people
Disability Rights UK has produced this guide, answering common questions, such as how to find an apprenticeship, whether the training will be accessible, and what support is available in the workplace. There are several inspiring stories written by disabled apprentices about their own experiences and the challenges they faced. It also contains a useful resources section listing further websites, publications, and organisations which can help.
Some employers and training providers may accept applications from international applicants. However, because apprenticeships are primarily focused on the job and employment, any international applicant must be eligible to work in the UK, and have the necessary visas, etc. International applicants need to look at the details of each apprenticeship vacancy and contact the university/college and employer to check their eligibility criteria.