So, you’re thinking about doing an apprenticeship in 2020? Well, you’re in the right place.

As you may be discovering, there’s an awful lot about apprenticeships that set them apart from the other routes available to you.

The great thing is, you can apply to them alongside your other applications to university or college, no problem. It’s not a case of one or the other.

But first things first, make sure you fully understand what an apprenticeship is and why you want to do one, before you dive in.

Before you get started

  • Know what you’re looking for

Hopefully you’ve got some idea of the kind of career you want to go into. You might not have a specific job in mind, but you should narrow it down to at least a sector, e.g. legal, finance, construction, before you go running around in circles.

Here’s a full list of the sectors offering apprenticeships. 

It matters, because an apprenticeship is a commitment to a specific career path, not just a field of study. If you’re still unsure, speak to a careers adviser – either at your school or college, or through the National Careers Service

  • Understand how the application process works

We’ve got that one covered. Here are the key steps for joining an apprenticeship programme

  • Make sure you’re eligible

For whatever apprenticeship you apply for, you’ll need to make sure you’re out of full-time education when it starts, and that you meet the entry requirements outlined in the vacancy. (Either that or have a seriously good cover letter…) 

Degree apprenticeship applications are a little more involved – you’ll also need to show them you can keep up with studying at degree level.

  • Be flexible

Apprenticeships can start at any time of year, and the same goes for application deadlines. Some might advertise in February for a September start date, others just a month before – and slap bang in the middle of that festival you’ve booked.   

If you really want to find the best possible apprenticeship, you’ll probably have to compromise on when it starts or where it’s based, or work around a commute between the employer and place of study. Which can be tricky.

Just like going to uni, it’s not unusual to relocate for a higher or degree apprenticeship, and doing so could be the best thing for you and your career.

Why study an apprenticeship?

Why study an apprenticeship? The biggest draw for many is the fact you earn while you learn, but you also experience what full-time employment is like and receive a qualification at the same time!

But don't just take our word for it. Alex and Conor, who are both apprentices at Airbus Group, share their experiences first hand with us.

Miguel, apprentice at EMC

If I had one piece of advice, it would be: make sure you’re 100% certain this is the right route for you. Do your research. Be prepared to work hard and perhaps to sacrifice some of your social life. But the reward at the end – it’s out of this world, really.

Discovering apprenticeships for 2020

There are a lot of apprenticeships out there. And, like jobs, there’s no one place to find them. But here’s where to start:

  • Register for an account  

Here are two great resources for searching apprenticeships – both allow you to search for vacancies, upload your CV, track applications, and get alerts for new listings. Handy stuff.

UCAS' Career Finder

National Apprenticeship Service

  • Contact specific employers

If there’s a specific employer you’d really like to work for, definitely get in touch.

Send in your freshly polished CV,  tell them you’re interested in working for them in particular, and ask if they have an apprenticeship scheme at your level. You’ve got nothing to lose, and a great career opportunity to gain.

  • Visit a UCAS exhibition or event

Find your way down to our Apprenticeship Zone, where you can talk directly with real employers, education providers and, best of all, actual apprentices. So, you can hear first-hand what the experience is really like. 

Sound good? Find an exhibition near you.

  • Keep checking back

New vacancies are popping up all the time – so keep your notifications turned on and check back regularly so you don’t miss any.

If a vacancy is popular enough, there’s nothing stopping an employer closing it early – so make sure you’re on your toes. And don't leave it until the last minute.

The main thing is to be proactive. Contact employers, chase up your applications, and make sure your CV is a thing of beauty. With the right attitude and a bit of patience, you’re sure to find the right vacancies for you.

Wondering whether you should go to university or do a degree apprenticeship? This Which? sponsored guide should point you in the right direction.