While employed, apprentices have the potential to earn and learn. You might, for example, work four days a week in an entry-level job and, on day five, attend a college or designated training centre. Apprenticeships usually take one to four years to finish, although, in certain situations, they may take up to five years. You will not also be offered a job after completing your apprenticeship. However, you would have gained experience and a well-recognised degree, so you will be eligible to work elsewhere if chosen.
The official national apprenticeship framework determines the skill level associated with different apprenticeship levels. In addition, employers may qualify for grants to provide apprenticeships, and these programmes are overseen and controlled by the government. Apprenticeships will help you get a career in various areas, from communications and media to marketing and finance.
In England, there are four levels of apprenticeship: intermediate, advanced, higher, and degree. Both are work-based learning programmes that lead to nationally recognised certificates.
Intermediate apprenticeships are level 2 qualifications equal to A*–C GCSE grades (4–9 on the new system).
- Advanced apprenticeships are A-level equivalent grade 3 qualifications.
- Higher apprenticeships result in qualifications at level 4 and subsequent stages.
- A degree apprenticeship involves studying for a university degree whilst still employed (level 6 or above).
If you’re wondering what the thresholds mean, here they are:
- Grade 4/5 is comparable to a higher school certificate, certification, or bachelor’s degree. (the first year of a degree programme)
- A bachelor’s degree correlates to level 6.
- A master’s degree corresponds to level 7.
A level 3 qualification, such as an intermediate apprenticeship, A level, or NVQ level 3, is typically required to proceed to a higher or degree apprenticeship. In addition, a level qualification, such as an advanced apprenticeship or five successful GCSE passes (grades A*–C or 4–9), is also needed.
In their first year, apprentices aged 16–18 and apprentices aged 19 and up receive less than the national minimum wage (NMW) apprentices, which is less than the NMW for all the same generation jobs. Apprentices above the age of 19 are entitled to the NMW for their age after the first year. However, many employers pay higher than the NMW.
Higher apprenticeships and bachelor’s degrees are options.
If you’re interested in apprenticeships but choose to take A levels or anything equivalent, you have many other options to consider. For example, earning and studying are combined in school leaver programmes; subsidised degrees offer the same, which may require attending university full-time while receiving financial support for your education.