Apprenticeship 101: A guide on pursuing an apprenticeship in England
There are many benefits to doing an apprenticeship, chief among them, graduating without debt! Source: Shutterstock

The Department for Education (DfE) recently launched its national apprenticeship campaign Fire It Up, which aims to promote the benefits of apprenticeships to young people, parents and employers.

An apprenticeship is a useful pathway to give you the training and qualifications needed to get ahead in your chosen career.

The government plans to create three million apprenticeships by 2020, noting that apprenticeships can lead to successful careers, while opportunities are available across all sectors of the economy.

But despite all that jazz, is an apprenticeship right for you? Here’s a guide on apprenticeships in England to help you make an informed decision.

What is an apprenticeship?

In a nutshell, an apprenticeship is a hands-on working experience that allows you to earn a competitive salary while you work. This is unlike a traditional study route, where most, if not all your learning takes place in a classroom, depending on your course.

Under an apprenticeship, at least 20 percent of your time will be spent learning and training off the job, often at a college, university or with a training provider.

There are many career pathways when taking an apprenticeship, from engineering to nursing, depending on your interests.

During your apprenticeship, you’ll be treated like a regular employee. This means that you’re bound to your contract of employment and are entitled to holiday leave, like a regular staff member.

How much does it cost?

When doing an apprenticeship, you only need to cover your day-to-day expenses. Source: Shutterstock

UCAS notes that there are no student fees for apprenticeships – your training costs are funded by the government and your employer. However, upon becoming an apprentice, you will need to cover your day-to-day expenses (e.g. meals, travel expenses, etc.).

Meanwhile, notes that: “If you’re a care leaver aged 16-24, you’ll receive a £1,000 bursary payment to support you in the first year of your apprenticeship.”

Who’s eligible for an apprenticeship?

To be eligible for an apprenticeship, notes that you must be 16 or over, not in full-time education and can become an apprentice as long as you spend at least 50 percent of your working hours in England.

How do I know if an apprenticeship is right for me?

If you like the idea of balancing work and study, and already have a clear idea on a career you’d like to pursue, an apprenticeship could be the ideal route for you. Source: Shutterstock

If you already have a clear idea on a career you’d like to pursue, wouldn’t mind a hands-on learning experience that allows you to learn and work simultaneously, in addition to being assessed through a combination of methods (e.g. essays, practical exercises, etc.) then an apprenticeship could be suitable for you.

Do note that balancing work commitments with academic study is not an easy thing to do, so mull over your options through before making a decision.

Are apprenticeships the equivalent to a degree? notes that apprenticeships have equivalent educational levels, while some apprenticeships also give you an additional qualification, such as a diploma.

Name Level Equivalent educational level
Intermediate 2 GCSE
Advanced 3 A-Level
Higher 4, 5, 6 and 7 Foundation degree and above
Degree 6 and 7 Bachelor’s or master’s degree

Each level has different entry requirements. Find out more here.

How will I benefit from an apprenticeship?

Since your training is free, you’re looking at graduating debt-free by doing an apprenticeship.

As for your salary, notes that it would “depend upon the industry, location and type of apprenticeship you choose.

“The national minimum wage is £3.70 per hour if you’re aged 16 to 18 – (rising to £3.90 per hour from April 2019) – but many employers pay far more than this. If you’re aged 19 or over and have completed the first year of your apprenticeship, you are entitled to the national minimum wage for your age.”

How do I find an apprenticeship in England? has a nifty website here where you find an apprenticeship. You can also find out more about the different industries available here.

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