Firstly, what is an apprenticeship?
- An apprenticeship is an opportunity to work and study at the same time.
- Most of your time is spent doing on-the-job training, and the rest is spent working towards a qualification.
- You’ll get paid a salary and be part of a team, just like all other employees, but you’ll also get dedicated study time.
Myth 1: Apprenticeships aren’t as ‘good’ as degrees
An undergraduate degree isn’t the only option – there are plenty of routes to get you to your chosen career, including apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are valued just as highly as undergraduate degrees and are already very popular.
It is also possible to complete a degree apprenticeship (or a graduate apprenticeship in Scotland) where you will gain the same degree as you would if you attended university full-time, but you’ll complete it whilst in paid employment as an apprentice and gaining valuable industry experience.
There are apprenticeship pathways that can lead you into nearly all the career routes you might be thinking about, including a doctor, a nuclear physicist, a sportsperson, and even a rocket scientist.
Myth 2: Apprenticeships are for people who don’t do well at school
Apprenticeships are for everyone regardless of your academic background. They all have different entry requirements, just like any job or traditional degree, so it’s about finding the best starting level for you.
Some apprenticeships don’t need any formal qualifications at all, whereas some may ask for GCSEs, A levels or equivalent. An apprenticeship is a real job, so you’ll have to satisfy the criteria the employer is looking for.
It’s also about finding the best learning style for you. An apprenticeship is a work-based route, which can suit practical learners, or people who want to gain industry experience. You can also combine a degree with an apprenticeship if you’d like to experience the apprenticeship route and get a degree at the same time.
Myth 3: Apprenticeships are only available in vocational industries
Apprenticeships are available in a range of industries, including ones you might not expect, like business, marketing, chemistry, sports and journalism, to name a few.
If you’re interested in construction, hair and beauty, or engineering, these apprenticeships exist too, and they can be a great route to get into your chosen career.
It’s about finding the right route for you and what will best suit your interests and learning style.
Myth 4: Apprentices don’t do ‘real’ jobs
As an apprentice, you hit the ground running from day one, working on real projects. Remember, as an apprentice you’re an employee. It’s not like volunteering or doing an internship. You might be working with paying clients, treating patients on a nursing ward, or helping design new buildings, to name a few examples.
You’ll get support from your employer and will have a mentor or supervisor to guide you, so don’t worry, you won’t be expected to know everything from day one. You’ll get objectives set at the start of your apprenticeship so you know what you’ll be working towards, and this will be measured regularly.
Myth 5: Apprenticeships are badly paid
All apprentices are entitled to a minimum of £4.81 per hour. However, many companies pay more. The average salary of a degree apprentice in the UK is £22,500*.
Apprenticeship wages will vary depending on each company and the sector you’re interested in. There are also different rates of pay depending on your age and what year of your apprenticeship you’re in.
To find more detailed salary information, have a look at some specific vacancies to see what you can expect.
*Glassdoor, correct as of October 2022.
Myth 6: Apprenticeships are only for school leavers
There’s no upper age limit for an apprenticeship, but they’re generally suitable for anyone over the age of 16. Occasionally you need to be over 18 for some apprenticeships due to health and safety reasons, so always check the requirements on the job description to make sure you fit the criteria.
You could be in your 40s or 50s and a good fit for an apprenticeship. They can be a great opportunity for a career change later in life, especially if you have dependants as you can earn and learn at the same time.
Myth 7: An apprenticeship won’t lead to a career
An apprenticeship is a work-based route to get you into your chosen career. An apprenticeship can make you a great asset to a company as you will have lots of industry experience and skills by the time you’re qualified.
Degree apprentices are particularly sought after because they have a university degree as well as years of work experience.