Level 3 apprenticeships are available in Northern Ireland if you are already employed, or about to take up paid employment.
If you want to work your way up from a Level 3 apprenticeship, you can go on to complete a higher apprenticeship (which are available from Levels 4 – 7).

What are the entry requirements for a Level 3 apprenticeship?

To be eligible for an apprenticeship, you need to be:

  • aged 16 or over. If you are over 25 there are some restrictions on the types of apprenticeships you can do
  • already be in employment, or about to take up paid employment, in Northern Ireland
  • be working a minimum of 21 hours per week on a permanent contract
  • not be in full-time education

You may also be eligible to take an apprenticeship in England, Scotland, or Wales as long as you meet the eligibility requirements.

You’ll also need to meet any other criteria set out by the employer and training provider. Entry requirements are different depending on the role and the industry, for example, some may need GCSEs in English and maths.

Remember, it’s not all about qualifications. Employers will be looking for willingness to learn, passion, and transferrable skills you could bring to the role.

Sheona, sales apprentice at Coca-Cola European Partners

Working in the real world is an eye-opener and it’s quite a jump from what you know in college. I felt torn about university, as I personally love learning from experience, so I initially started looking for a job, not realising there were apprenticeships available too. The flexibility of working and gaining a qualification really appealed to me, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I spent a bit of time looking through the descriptions of the apprenticeships available to see which suited my personality and skills best.

How do Level 3 apprenticeships work?

An apprenticeship consists of mostly on-the-job training and some study away from work, which means you put what you learn into practice. You’ll spend most of your time at work and the rest in off-the-job learning with your training provider.

This often works out about four days a week at work, and one day learning, but this can vary depending on the apprenticeship. At the end of the apprenticeship, you’ll be assessed and then awarded your apprenticeship if you pass. This is nothing to worry about, you’ll have been building up your skills for the assessment throughout the apprenticeship.

The average salary of an apprentice in Northern Ireland
*Indeed, correct as of Feb 2023
Over 20,000**
Number of people who started a Level 3 apprenticeship in Northern Ireland in 2021/22
**NI.Gov.uk, correct as of Feb 2023
Average number of months it takes to complete a Level 3 apprenticeship (full-time)
Pros of an apprenticeship
  • You’re an employee and get paid a salary, a holiday allowance, and sick pay.
  • You won’t have to pay any study costs towards your apprenticeship.
  • You’ll be guided by a professional mentor who will help you along the way.
Considerations of an apprenticeship
  • You already need to be in employment, or about to take up paid employment to be eligible for an apprenticeship in Northern Ireland.
  • Learning and studying on the job can be tough. You’ll need to manage your time so you can fit in working and studying. Your employer will support you, but you need to be organised and take responsibility.
  • With an apprenticeship, life is very different than to going to uni. Whilst there are plenty of opportunities to meet new people, it won’t be like going to uni.

Finding a training provider

Once you’re in employment and have agreed with your employer that you can become an apprentice, contact a local training provider. They will check your eligibility and discuss the options available to you. Your training provider will then meet with you and your employer to discuss your apprenticeship and develop and agree on a training plan.

What industries can I do an apprenticeship in?

Level 3 apprenticeships are offered in a wide range of industries, from IT or management, to pharmacology, sales, engineering, and many more.

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