What are apprenticeships?

With the rise in university fees, a number of people are choosing to boycott degrees and opting to take apprenticeships instead. However, a number of people don’t know very much about them, so Career Camel is here to set the record straight and tell you what apprenticeships are all about.

Basically, apprenticeships give you the opportunity to work for a real employer and earn a salary while also gaining a qualification from the workplace skills and experience you have accumulated. As long as you live in England, you’re over 16 and not in full-time education, you can apply to be an apprentice. An apprenticeship consists of two elements:


1) On the job training

As an apprentice, you are employed by a company. This company will provide you with a structured training programme, designed to make sure you are learning the necessary skills during your apprenticeship. You will spend the majority of your time gaining experience while at work. The structured training programme you will be on is developed by industry professionals and your employee has commitments to meet in terms of making sure you are progressing through your programme.

2) Working towards a recognised qualification

The other part of your apprenticeship consists of you working towards a recognised qualification. This learning will take place in a school/college or training centre near to your work. The amount of time you spend studying towards your qualification depends on the apprenticeship that you are doing, but it usually ranges from one day every two weeks through to two days every week.


The National Apprenticeship Service says that a competence element (e.g. an NVQ), a technical element (e.g. a tech certificate) and a functional skills element (literacy, numeracy, ICT) make up an apprenticeship.

As an apprentice you will be paid a minimum of £2.68 per hour, according to National Minimum Wage guidelines. However, many apprenticeships pay more than this – according to the National Apprenticeship Service, the average wage for an apprentice is about £170 per week. You can be expected to work an average of 30 hours per week; perhaps more or perhaps less.

Apprenticeships are available at intermediate (level 2), Advanced (level 3) and Higher (level 4 and above; equivalent to a degree) level. More than 150,000 employers offer apprenticeships across 200,000 locations, covering more than 170 industries and 1,500 job roles, including advertising, youth work, environmental engineering and nuclear decommissioning.

Employers say that qualified apprentices are 15 percent more employable than those with other qualifications and after finishing, 85 percent of apprentices stay in employment. Two-thirds of apprentices stay with the same employer and a third receive a promotion within 12 months of finishing.

So if you want to become more qualified but don’t fancy spending a lot of money on a degree, an apprenticeship may be for you if you want to develop more practical skills. Read on to find out more about how to decide on an apprenticeship and how to apply for one.

Career CamelWhat Are Apprenticeships?