Joining an apprenticeship programme: The key steps

Just like any other job, every employer has their own application process. Some will ask you to apply direct to them, others through the National Apprenticeship Service.

Don't worry, all vacancies will show you how to apply. Take a look at some of the ones that interest you on Career Finder.

But rest assured, if you make it to a company's shortlist – you’ll be invited to an interview.

Which means you’ll need to be prepared, and come with a beautifully polished CV. Good job we can help you with that

1. Sign up to Career Finder

Just head over to Career Finder and create an account.

  • Search for all apprenticeship roles.
  • Filter by subject area, role type, location, and level of apprenticeship.
  • Shortlist jobs.
  • Sign up for alerts.
  • Keep tabs on applications you've made.  

UCAS top tip

If you don’t find what you’re looking for at first, don’t worry. Jobs will come up regularly so keep an eye out.

2. Find the right apprenticeship

Take a look at our guide to finding a good apprenticeship.

  • Use the search function and filters.
  • Sign up for alerts on Career Finder so you never miss new vacancies.
  • Approach employers directly with a letter and your CV.

3. Make your application

See our list of requirements for an apprenticeship to make sure you’re ticking all the boxes.

  • Research the role, employer and, importantly, the apprenticeship standard.
  • Check your eligibility.
  • Craft your CV and cover letter.
  • Ask for feedback on your communication skills and body language.
  • Practise answering any questions you think you'll be asked.
  • Keep a record of all the apprenticeships you apply to, along with their closing dates.

4. Track your applications

If you don't hear back within three to four weeks, make contact with either the company or the person dealing with your application, and ask when you might know if you're being invited for an interview. 

5. Prepare for your interview

We’ve got plenty of resources to help keep you out of the ‘no’ pile, from our guide to how to write a CV that stands out, to preparing for an apprenticeship interview.

  • Research the role in full, including the apprenticeship standard.
  • Delve into the company history and do some professional stalking:
    • check their social media
    • read their blog
    • research any successful deals they’ve won
    • look for unusual snippets to mention in the interview
  • Identify your strengths, and examples of when you've used them successfully.
  • Show your professional side, but relax and smile too.
  • Re-read your application and get others to proofread it.
  • Dress smart and be punctual. Arrive ten minutes beforehand.
  • Turn off your phone.
  • Be confident and believe in yourself.

6. Keep your head up

After your interview, collect your thoughts and learn what you can from the experience.

Make a note of any questions you were asked which you feel you could have answered better. Did you notice any changes in the interviewer's body language, whether positive or negative? That's a great starting point.

If you’re not successful, just remember it’s a competitive process. Make sure you ask for feedback on how you could have improved your interview style or answers, and thank them for their time.

Stay positive, and use all of the feedback you receive to help you nail your next application.

Download  Which? Higher and degree apprenticeships guide 2020 (18.91 MB)

When should I apply?

Hopefully you’re getting used to hearing this by now: application deadlines will differ from one vacancy to the next.

But importantly, employers won’t always hang around until the deadline to wait for any last-minute applications. If they’ve got enough applicants, they can close the vacancy at any time.

But that’s no reason to rush. The most important thing is to make a start on any new applications, and do it in bitesize chunks.

With regular breaks and dangerous quantities of caffeine, you'll find you're on track to make the best possible application – gaining confidence all the while.  

Our guide on the requirements for an apprenticeship will help you make sure you tick all the right boxes.

Where can I go if I need help or support?

There’s plenty of helpful information to guide you.

What if I have a disability? How do I know which apprenticeships to apply for?

A good place to start is by reading this guide by Disability Rights UK.

It answers a lot of common questions, like how to find an apprenticeship, whether training will be accessible, and how to find out what support a potential employer has in place for disabled colleagues.

You’ll also find stories from real apprentices talking about their experiences with the application process and in the workplace, along with links to a whole range of other useful resources.