Applications are usually made to the employer — through an application form, or a CV and covering letter.
- If you are applying through the Careers Wales Vacancy service: here is a guide to completing your vacancy application. Once you've submitted your application, the employer will send you emails letting you know what happens next.
- If you are applying through the employer's own system: some will want to use their own recruitment process. If this is the case, you will be linked to their instructions. This may be an online application, or they may send you a paper application form.
When to apply
Apprenticeship vacancies appear throughout the year — each will state a deadline for applications and start dates. Don’t wait until the deadline to make an application – some companies close their recruitment as soon as they have a sufficient number of suitable candidates.
Vacancies with larger firms often start appearing from September, but most start to be advertised from January or February onwards. Smaller businesses might start recruiting a month or two before the job starts, so if you hope to start work in August or September, start looking from March/April onwards.
- When vacancies appear, it’s a good idea to apply as soon as you can — depending on numbers of applications, firms may close the recruitment process early.
- Take time to research the job role and your career interests thoroughly. You may want to organise some relevant work experience to confirm it’s what you want to do, and build your CV.
- If you’re at school or college, always check the start date for the apprenticeship to make sure you will have finished! Some smaller firms advertise vacancies only two to three months in advance of the actual start date.
- Look carefully at the skills and personal qualities required in the job description, and try to find examples of things you've done to demonstrate these.
- Don’t be shy. and try not to undersell yourself! Be confident about what you've achieved and what you can offer the employer. Equally, be careful of overselling, as anything you write may be explored further at an interview.
- Always check spellings and the readability of your work. Ask someone to double check it for you. It’s easy to make mistakes such as typos, but in a competitive field, errors can count against you and be seen as a lack of attention to detail.
- Employers will have particular things they are looking for in candidates, which will be set out in the vacancy details. There are common ones you should try to demonstrate evidence for on your CV, applications, and covering letters. These are:
- communication skills — both written and verbal
- ability to work in teams and/or on your own
- motivation and enthusiasm
- able to work under your own initiative
- flexible and committed approach to work/study
- positive ‘can do’ attitude
- good timekeeping and organisational skills
- ability to meet deadlines and work under pressure
- When providing personal contact details, make sure your email address and any voicemail greeting on your mobile are appropriate for an employer!
Apprenticeships – getting help and support
Contact Careers Wales for help and advice.
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.
What happens next?
After you’ve applied, the recruitment process can vary widely. Larger companies can have several stages before you even get to an interview, so be prepared for some or all of the following:
- initial functional skills assessment to test maths and English — a key component of apprenticeships
- online aptitude tests
- telephone or online interviews — used by some employers as part of shortlisting, before inviting candidates to an assessment day or face-to-face interview
- attendance at an assessment day, where you're assessed on your ability to work in groups, and complete individual activities and tasks, followed by face-to-face interview
Smaller companies may have a slightly more informal or personal process, perhaps involving an initial written application, followed by face-to-face interview if you’re shortlisted.