How do apprenticeships work?

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What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a method of studying for a recognised qualification while earning a wage and gaining experience. Apprenticeships offer professional training and on-the-job learning in a range of sectors, including engineering, customer service, and pharmacy.

Apprenticeships are for everyone aged 16 or over, whether you’re already working or are looking to start a career in a chosen industry. In fact, apprenticeships for over 25s becoming increasingly common for those wanting to change careers.

There are different levels of apprenticeships, all with an equivalent educational level:
•    Level 2 Apprenticeships (GCSE)
•    Level 3 Apprenticeships (A-Level)
•    Level 4 and 5 Apprenticeships (Foundation degree and above)
•    Level 6 and 7 Apprenticeships (Bachelor’s or Master’s degree)

What do you learn during an apprenticeship?

While working for your employer you’ll be fully supported through a programme of learning and one-to-one sessions. Your job will provide you with relevant real-life experience, team working skills and progression opportunities, while you’re fully supported by a training adviser. 

Working within the industry means you can shape your career path, develop new skills and gain industry-recognised qualifications, all while earning a wage. You’ll follow an approved study programme matched to the job you are training for so you can gain all the skills experience and qualifications potential employers are looking for.

How long is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship can take between one and five years to complete depending on the sector and level. An apprentice typically works between 30 and 40 hours a week, including training and time spent at college. Some businesses offer part-time apprenticeships in special circumstances but these must be a minimum of 16 hours a week. 

The full-time schedule of an apprenticeship means you get a better understanding of the sector and business and allows for further progression, such as taking on more complex tasks due to your experience within the role.

How much do you get paid as an apprentice?

An apprenticeship combines learning with earning. An apprentice’s salary is affected by different factors: 

  • The apprenticeship level and sector
  • The apprentice’s age, experience, and qualifications

There is a minimum wage in place for all young apprentices. The minimum wage varies by age and how long the individual has been doing the apprenticeship. Those aged 19+ who have completed at least one year of their apprenticeship will earn at least the national minimum wage for their age. 16-18 year olds, or 19 year olds with less than one years’ experience will earn at least £4.30 an hour. 

This is the minimum apprentices can be paid, however, employers can choose to pay more than the national minimum wage. This wage guide excludes any deductibles such as tax or national insurance which apprentices may need to pay.

What are the benefits of completing an apprenticeship?

There are numerous benefits of starting an apprenticeship. 

  • Earn while you learn- You’ll earn money and valuable work experience while working towards gaining a nationally recognised qualification
     
  • Gain qualifications- You’ll gain on-the-job training and supportive study while you work 
     
  • The benefits of full-time work- This includes paid sick leave, at least 20 days of paid holiday, and statutory maternity or paternity pay and leave
     
  • Workplace pension- You’ll be automatically be enrolled in a workplace pension as long as you meet the pension eligibility criteria.
     
  • No debt -Unlike a university degree, there’s no debt with an apprenticeship but you can work towards degree-level qualifications
     
  • NUS Apprentice Card -Since an apprenticeship is still a study programme, you’ll gain the same perks and discounts available to other students. An NUS Apprentice extra discount card will offer apprentices many of the same discounts and benefits.

Apprenticeships are a strong solution to help you break into the industry. Find out more about how an apprenticeship can help you and your career by calling our expert team on 03333 222 666.

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