If you’re considering an apprenticeship for the next stage of your career, there are lots of potential benefits to be had. However, it’s important that you’re fully informed about the practicalities of an apprenticeship role and the application process itself, to help you best prepare and make the most of the opportunity. Once you have spotted an apprenticeship that looks like it could be a good fit for your career goals, there are various things to consider before you apply.
In this article, we look at some essential apprenticeships information before completing your application for any apprentice role.
Check the entry requirements of the apprenticeship role
Every apprenticeship has certain entry requirements and eligibility criteria. These will vary, depending on the level of the specific apprenticeship you’re thinking of applying for. For a Level 2 (intermediate) apprenticeship in England, you’ll need to be:
- Aged 16 or over
- Living in England
- Not in full-time education (by the time the apprenticeship begins)
For level 3 apprenticeships and above, you’ll often be expected to have certain qualifications before you can apply. This could be GCSEs, A-levels, a degree or a requirement to have completed equivalent previous apprenticeships or industry-specific qualifications. However, if you already have industry experience then this might not be necessary and will depend on the criteria of the employer advertising the apprenticeship role.
When looking at apprenticeship opportunities, the role description should make clear any specific entry requirements.
Check the application deadline and apprenticeship start date
It might sound obvious, but checking closing dates for applications for the apprenticeship role you’re applying for is important. In order to submit the best possible application, you ideally want at least a few days to put together the information needed, along with your cover letter. Rushing everything to meet a close deadline can sometimes mean that your application isn’t the best possible reflection of you, so taking your time and asking someone else to check things over before you submit it can make all the difference.
In terms of start date, some apprenticeships might be advertised to coincide with the academic year, which can be really handy for those just leaving full-time education. However, there are lots of apprenticeships that start throughout the year too, so it’s important to check this for any apprentice role you want to apply for to make sure it fits with your plans.
Check the convenience of the apprenticeship location
The location of your apprenticeship workplace, and also where you will be expected to do your training (often a different location), needs to be somewhere you can get to fairly easily, whatever the weather or time of year. If you will be travelling via public transport, make sure you check out local train and/or bus routes before you apply for an apprenticeship role. If you drive or cycle, you may also want to look at the local parking situation or whether there is a safe place to leave your bike nearby whilst you’re working.
These small practicalities can make a big difference to how feasible it is for you to apply for a specific apprenticeship role and successfully complete the programme.
Research the apprenticeship wage and employee benefits
There are minimum legal requirements for the wage offered to apprentices, which is reviewed annually and usually goes up every April. From April 2023, the minimum hourly rate that employers must pay apprentices in the first year of the programme is £5.28. If the apprenticeship runs for more than a year, once the first 12 months have passed, the wage reverts to at least the minimum wage for the apprentice’s age.
However, some employers actually offer apprenticeship roles that pay more than the required minimum, so it’s always worth checking this detail in an apprenticeship job ad before you apply.
Along with wages, it’s also worth checking out the employee benefits that a specific employer offers to apprentices before choosing where to apply for an apprenticeship role. There are minimum annual leave requirements and other statutory benefits such as maternity and paternity leave and pay, but many employers offer more than this too. This could take the form of things such as sick pay, healthcare plans and some even offer benefits for employees such as gym memberships, paid career development opportunities (on top of your apprenticeship training), social events and more.
Get your CV and cover letter ready
No matter what stage of your career you are at, having a CV prepared before applying for any role is important.
If you’re leaving full-time education and are looking for an apprenticeship as your first role, there is still likely to be relevant information you can include on your CV to help potential employers see at a glance why you could be a good fit for the role. There are lots of skills you learn in school, college and in your activities outside of education that can be transferable to an apprenticeship role and your future career too.
Those with other work experience who are applying for an apprenticeship can use a standard CV format but those who are looking for their first role can include information such as:
- A summary of education and any qualifications gained so far (or predicted grades if waiting on exam results)
- Detailing relevant skills for the role being applied for
- Adding details of any relevant work experience, including volunteering
- Any important interests or hobbies.
The cover letter is very important, as it can really help you stand out from other applicants. Take a look at our tips for writing a great apprenticeship cover letter.
Prepare for apprenticeship interviews
While not everyone who applies for an apprenticeship may be invited for an interview, it’s always good to get prepared just in case. Some large employers who take on lots of apprentices may also include assessments or tests as part of their interview process, which is another thing you can prepare for ahead of time, once you know what kind of assessment it might be.
Check out our apprenticeship interview tips to make sure you’re as ready as you can be, if you are required to interview for the role you want.
Other apprenticeship resources
Applying for an apprenticeship can sometimes feel daunting, especially if you’re looking for your first job role or are changing career completely. However, by doing as much research as possible and getting prepared for the process, you put yourself in the best possible position for getting an apprenticeship role that is right for you.
Get In can help potential trade apprentices to get their CV in front of employers looking for someone just like them. You can also check out our apprenticeship resources that could help you on the next stage in your career. Take a look at our apprenticeship guides and advice.