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Post-16 apprenticeships

What are apprenticeships, what's needed to get on one, how do you apply?
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Meet Leanne
Leanne is studying an advanced apprenticeship in Design at Warwickshire College Group, and is employed by Doodletogs.
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Meet Bradley
Bradley progressed from an intermediate apprenticeship to a higher apprenticeship in Engineering. He is studying with Dudley College and employed by KUKA Systems.
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Apprenticeships mean you can earn a salary and gain a qualification at the same time. There are over 280 types of apprenticeship and over 1,500 job roles. 

Apprenticeships generally fall into one of four categories:
  • Intermediate level apprenticeship — generally considered to be the same as five GCSE passes. Find out what Italia Hall says about her apprenticeship.
  • Advanced level apprenticeship — generally considered to be the same as two A level passes.
  • Higher apprenticeship — can lead to NVQ Level 4 and above, or a foundation degree.
  • From September 2015, some universities started offering degree apprenticeships — these are new and enable apprentices to achieve a full bachelor's or master's degree as part of their apprenticeship. Find out more about degree apprenticeships.

What do I need to do an apprenticeship?

  • You have to be over 16 years old.
  • Entry requirements vary, and you may need up to five GCSEs at grade A* to C — including English and maths.
  • You'll need to show you have the ability to complete the programme — what's required varies across training providers, employers, and job roles.

An apprenticeship usually takes between one and three years to complete. They're made up of three parts — all completed on the job, online, or in a classroom.


Why do it?

Each apprenticeship trains you for a specific job, so it's worth finding out as much as you can about that job, as well as the career and progression route your apprenticeship could lead to. You'll be earning while you qualify and will also gain good work and training experience, which will support your applications for other jobs. 


Earn while you learn

All apprentices receive the national minimum wage, paid holiday, and bank holidays.

  • Learning is completed on a day-release basis — one day a week — or in a block-release of several days at a college or training provider.
  • This enables you to develop the knowledge and skills you need, while the employer provides the practical experience to put those skills to the test. 
  • Training could be classroom-based or in the workplace.

The job

Over 150,000 employers are currently offering apprenticeships in more than 200,000 locations, covering more than 170 industries across the UK. 

  • Your employer provides on-the-job training and pays your wages. 
  • All apprentices should work at least 30 hours a week, alongside experienced staff, gaining job-specific skills and earning a wage.

The qualification

Apprenticeships are at least 12 months long — they lead to a national, recognised qualification and follow a 'framework' developed by Sector Skills Councils. Most include:

  • national vocational qualification (NVQ) — e.g. Level 2 for intermediate level apprenticeships, Level 3 for advanced level apprenticeships 
  • knowledge-based qualification — such as a higher national certificate (HNC), higher national diploma (HND), or foundation degree 
  • functional skills qualifications — e.g. in maths, English, or ICT 
  • technical certificate — such as a BTEC or City & Guilds progression award

Applying for apprenticeships

Take a look at UCAS Progress search or the National Apprenticeships Service (NAS) for useful information and tips on how to register, search, and apply for an apprenticeship.

If an apprenticeship is advertised by a training provider, check if the opportunity includes the job, or if you need to find the job element with a local employer. Training providers can give you help, advice, and guidance on finding appropriate employment.


Future and careers

  • Government research shows the majority of apprentices (85%) stay in employment — with 64% staying with the same employer. 
  • A third of all apprentices received a promotion within a year of finishing, and in their lifetime can earn £150,000 more than their peers without an apprenticeship.

You could continue training or go to university

After completing an apprenticeship, you could continue to train for an advanced, higher, or degree level apprenticeship, or a related vocational qualification. Alternatively, you could go on to university, or take a professional qualification that leads to a specific job role.