If you’re the parent or carer of someone considering becoming an apprentice, knowing and understanding all the facts about apprenticeships means that you’re in the best place to help and support them to make the right decisions for now and the future. In past times, being an apprentice was often seen as a route into a specific and limited number of trade careers. There are still lots of misconceptions and myths like this about apprenticeships that are certainly no longer the case.
In this guide, we look at what modern apprenticeships are, how they work, what they offer and some of the available options so that you can help provide support to someone in your life considering the apprenticeship route.
The potential benefits of apprenticeships as a route into a career
An apprenticeship is essentially a genuine job role within a business that comes with both on-the-job and off-the-job training, so that an apprentice completing their programme earns a recognised qualification alongside working.
Apprenticeships are open to people of any age (above 16) and the various levels of programme available offer qualifications equivalent to everything from GCSEs to degree and even Master’s level.
Apprenticeships are available in many different job roles across a wide range of sectors and industries, meaning many careers that once may only have been open to those with university degrees are now available to apprentices too.
Some of the benefits to apprenticeships for those at the start of their working life include:
- Earning a wage and paid annual leave as they work and learn.
- Gaining a recognised qualification without taking on student debt.
- Providing a great foundation for career progression, which could include further studies and gaining more qualifications and experience, alongside moving through the workplace ranks, gaining more responsibilities and promotions.
What parents need to know about apprenticeship levels
An apprenticeship used to simply be a period of time that someone (usually a school-leaver) spent learning a trade. However, under the current system there are various levels of apprenticeship that someone can do. This means that apprenticeships are open to people at any stage of their working life and each apprenticeship, at any level, has a structured programme to ensure that apprentices are gaining the knowledge and skills that they need for their qualification and future career.
Here’s a summary of apprenticeship levels:
- Intermediate (Level 2) – Equivalent to GCSEs
- Advanced (Level 3) – Equivalent to A-levels
- Higher (Levels 4-7) – Foundation degree and above
- Degree (Levels 6-7) – Bachelor’s or master’s degree
What apprentices earn
One of the most attractive parts of an apprenticeship to many young people is that you earn as you learn. The government has set minimum requirements for what businesses hiring apprentices need to pay as an hourly rate, but there is no upper limit and many companies offer more than this.
For the first 12 months of any full-time apprenticeship (which can last from 1-5 years, depending on the level and the specific apprenticeship programme), the apprenticeship minimum hourly rate of pay is £5.28 (from April 2023). After the first 12 months, the National Minimum Wage will apply (or the National Living Wage for those aged 23 and over), so from April 2023, this equates to:
- 16-17 years old – £5.28 an hour
- 18-20 years old – £7.49 an hour
- 21-22 years old – £10.18 an hour
- 23 years and above – £10.42 an hour
Apprentices are paid by the employer for the hours that they work in the business and also for the time spent doing ‘off-the-job’ training that is provided by the selected training provider. This training will equate to at least 20% of their time, or roughly one day per week. However, the schedule for training will vary for individual apprenticeships and the agreed programme, with some of them having training ‘blocks’ every few weeks or months of combined time rather than on a weekly basis. This training element is often based in a different location to the workplace e.g. at a local college or learning centre.
This will all be outlined for specific roles as part of the apprenticeship application and selection process, so that it’s clear to everyone what the work and training schedule will involve practically.
Entry requirements for apprenticeships
Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16 in England. Each apprenticeship vacancy will have its own entry requirements that depend on the level of the specific role and the sector. For example, a higher or degree apprenticeship (Levels 4-7) will usually require the applicant to have A-levels or equivalent qualifications. All entry requirements will be listed on specific apprenticeship vacancies available on the government website.
Essentially, an apprenticeship is like any other job vacancy, where the potential apprentice will need to apply and write a cover letter. If selected by the employer, they will usually be invited for an interview before the employer chooses successful candidate(s) for the role(s) they have available.
For those applying for an apprenticeship as their first ‘proper’ job after leaving school, the application process offers a great learning opportunity for them that will likely come in useful at many points in their future career.
What career and apprenticeship options are there?
There are many different roles and careers across sectors and industries that an apprenticeship can now help open the doors to. These industries include:
- Digital, IT and media
- Creative and design
- Law and the legal sector
- Care services, health and science
- Childcare, education and teaching
- Agriculture, environment and animal care
- Finance and accounting
- Hospitality and catering
- Hair and beauty
- Emergency services and protection services
From a career as a plumber to an architect, a youth worker to a firefighter, a train driver to a financial analyst, these are all roles that can be achieved with an apprenticeship as a key part of the journey.
How to find apprenticeships locally
At any one time, there are thousands of apprenticeship vacancies being advertised nationwide, and this can seem daunting for someone considering applying for an apprenticeship. You can search listed vacancies by area to see what is available near you. Identifying the right kind of opportunity, in a location that is practical and in an industry that could be a good fit, is vital.
This is where our Get In programme can help if your child or family member is considering a career in the trades. We provide a hub where potential apprentices can upload their CV and employers looking for a great new apprentice can easily discover individuals that are a good match. This can be a great way to get the apprenticeship journey off to a strong start.
If you’d like any more information on trade apprenticeships, or what you can do as a parent or carer to best support an apprentice throughout their programme, you can get in touch with our team.