Apprenticeships Explained

First of all, a little bit of history. Apprenticeships date back to the Middle Ages and the medieval craft guilds of that time. Picture groups of tradesmen or craftsmen banding together to ensure high standards of quality (they also came together for other reasons, but those aren’t important here). They were carpenters, painters and cloth makers, who took on apprentices to ‘pass on’ their skills and experience.

Since then, the world—and education, training and employment—have changed, and so too have apprenticeships. Today, they provide an alternative path to education while ensuring that professions and industries have the skilled workers they need.

In this century, apprenticeships have been embraced as a viable alternative to university, and the modern apprenticeship is accessible, flexible and a boon for both young people and employers.

The Basics

An apprenticeship, which must last for a minimum of 12 months, combines hands-on work with the opportunity to train and obtain qualifications. It’s also a paid position, so you earn while you learn. At least 20% of your time is set aside for learning, usually at a college, university or training provider.

The rest of your time is spent applying your knowledge and skills in the actual workplace, doing the job that you set out to get. At the end of it, you’ll gain official certification, which will be equivalent to traditional qualifications. Apprenticeship levels are set and equivalent to as follows:

  • 2 (Intermediate): GCSEs at grades A* to C
  • 3 (Advanced): A-levels at grades A to E
  • 4 (Higher): foundation degree
  • 5 (Higher): foundation degree/first year of bachelor’s degree
  • 6 (Degree): bachelor’s degree
  • 7 (Degree): master’s degree

It’s important to note that there are caveats. Apprenticeships are designed to be flexible, so, for example, an employer may offer a level 6 or 7 apprenticeship, considered to be at the higher level, without giving you the option of getting an actual degree qualification, while others will.

It’s essential that you check before applying—the qualifications on offer and the level at which you’ll train will be made explicit, so you’ll be able to decide if you’re happy to undertake an apprenticeship at the degree level without the prospect of being awarded one at the end of it.
Many intermediate, advanced and higher apprenticeships will also give you the opportunity to obtain qualifications such as diplomas in relevant areas.

There is no maximum age limit for an apprenticeship, but they are for those aged 16 or over, living in England and not in full-time education.

Added Benefits

As an apprentice, you’ll earn a wage. The current minimum wage rate for an apprentice is £4.15 per hour. This rate applies if you’re under 19, or if you’re aged 19 or over and are in your first year. You must be paid the national minimum wage for your age if you’re an apprentice aged 19 or over and have completed your first year. The national minimum wage is currently set at £6.45 for 18- to-20-year-olds, £8.20 for 21- to 24-year-olds and £8.72 for those aged 25 and over.

On top of this, you’ll be paid for your normal working hours and the training that’s part of your apprenticeship, usually one day per week. You’ll also be entitled to the statutory minimum of 20 days of paid holiday per year, plus bank holidays, of which there are currently eight.

It’s important to note here that these pay rates and holiday entitlements are minimums only. Employers will often set their salaries on offer at higher rates, depending on company policy, in order to make their apprenticeships competitive. Many will also differ on their date of payment, with some having monthly wage structures and others preferring to pay their staff weekly. Many employers also offer additional benefits, such as gym memberships, private healthcare and travel loans. The current minimum age for a workplace pension is 22, however, check with the employer when you apply, as they may offer a pension to all of their employees.

National Apprenticeship week opportunities via Young Professionals

On Monday 7 February from 5:00pm – 6:30pm there will be 3 sessions: Careers in Law, Careers in Banking and Finance, and a Careers in Technology.

These will be 3 separate webinars of which we have brought together 3 incredible lineups to share insights into the respective companies and hear directly from apprentices within to give you a chance to see what it’s like kickstarting your career at these various global organisations.

Careers in Law

Never before have we been able to bring together so many prestigious law institutions together under one roof and this could possibly be the biggest ever law careers event for schools. We’ll be joined by top industry professionals from 2 Magic Circle firms in Clifford Chance and Linklaters as well as Browne Jacobson, Charles Russell Speechlys, Pinsent Masons and Freeths as they share what it’s like working at some of the most distinguished law firms in the country.

Registration Link:

Careers in Technology

We have another fantastic lineup for our Technology evening with a total of 8 industry giants coming to speak to us with predominately apprentices leading the sessions. We have Capgemini, IBM, WWT, VMware, Vodafone, Experian, Goldman Sachs, and Virgin Media coming to tell us all about life at a worldwide tech company.

Registration Link:

Careers in Banking and Finance

Our third and final event running for the evening is our insight into Banking & Financial Services with Goldman Sachs, Fidelity International, HSBC, and Marsh McLennan presenting to us. Again we’re so proud to be able to bring together such a star-studded lineup of organisations for you to hear from. This too is possibly our best-ever lineup for this particular industry.

Registration Link:

We very much look forward to welcoming you to what’s set to be an excellent careers-focused evening and to helping you figure out which direction you’d like to take yours in.

These events are free to join and open to students of all ages as well as parents and teachers. Upon completion of the event, students will receive a certificate of completion which can be used and talked about in future job / UCAS applications.

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