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Apprenticeships: Your Gateway to the World of Work

26 August 2022   |   by Explore Careers
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Despite how far they’ve come in the past decade, apprenticeships still seem to have a few outdated ideas and misconceptions attached to them.

Well, we think it’s time that changed!

With results week, we know many young people will be rethinking their options and wondering what their next steps might look like. To help, we’ve put together this clear guide on what apprenticeships are – and why you might want to put them at the top of your list!

Apprenticeships: What to Know

In the UK, apprenticeships are available in many industries across over 1500 different roles – and growing! Entry requirements depend on the level of apprenticeship you apply for (more on that in a bit), which means no matter your situation (or grades), there’s an opportunity to help you get started.

As you might already know, apprenticeship combines the world of work with the world of study. Through an apprenticeship, you’ll be employed and work a number of days a week, with one or two days spent in the classroom at a local college or training provider.

Much of your studies and assessment are based on the job, meaning you’ll grow your skills and learn at the same time, and it all contributes towards your overall qualification related to your line of work.

Here are a few of the things that make apprenticeships a top-notch choice for us:

  1. You’ll gain financial security: As an apprentice, you’ll be paid while you work, earning a salary alongside gaining your qualification. If you opt for a degree apprenticeship, you’ll also be skipping out on tuition fees – so no future debt to pay off either!
  2. You’ll work on real-world problems and projects: You’ll learn theory in the classroom and then get the active opportunity to put what you learn into place as you’ll be part of a  team working on real-world problems and projects – the ultimate way to engage with your studies and solidify your knowledge!
  3. Clear ways to move up: It’s rare for an apprenticeship to end and for you to find yourself jobless. Employers invest in their apprentices because they want you to keep working for them. So whether you progress to a higher level apprenticeship or take on a full-time employee role – there’s lots of scope for clear progression and development opportunities.
  4. Relevant and accessible mentoring: You’ll be working with various professionals who’ve been in the industry for a while and know their stuff! You’ll spend time with these people, learning in the workplace, with the bonus that they’ll be keen to help you succeed as you’re already part of their team.

How Are Apprenticeships Structured?

Apprenticeships are arranged by level, and each level has a different set of entry requirements, as well as the qualification you’ll gain at the end and how long they take to complete.

Here’s an overview of what that currently looks like:

Intermediate Apprenticeships

Age requirement: At least 16, typically.

Length: Up to 12 months

Also referred to as ‘entry-level’ or ‘level 2’ apprenticeships, these are the starting point on the apprenticeship journey for most people.

By the end of an intermediate apprenticeship, you’ll gain a vocational qualification, usually at Level 2 NVQ (equivalent to five GCSEs A*-C), but you could also achieve a BTEC, GCSE or City and Guilds qualification. Intermediate apprenticeships are available across over 40 industries and a wide range of roles.

Advanced Apprenticeships

Age requirement: 16 years

Length: Up to 24 months

If you decide to progress after an intermediate apprenticeship, you’ll move to an advanced apprenticeship, also referred to as a ‘level 3’ apprenticeship.

You’ll work towards a more challenging qualification, usually Level 3 NVQ or equivalent, as well as a knowledge-based certificate such as a BTEC or City and Guilds qualification. In some cases, you might be able to apply straight to an advanced apprenticeship, depending on your current grades.

Higher Apprenticeships

Age requirement: 18 years

Length: Anywhere between 3 and 5 years (depending on what you study)

You might also see these referred to as level 4 or level 5 apprenticeships. Higher apprenticeships offer level 4 qualifications (for starters), and you can progress to level 5 qualifications such as a foundation degree or higher national diploma. They tend to be more challenging, and for many, you need to be at least 18 to start one.

This level tends to have higher entry requirements, with employers preferring you to have at least two A-Levels (or equivalent) or have previously completed an advanced apprenticeship in the same industry.

Degree Apprenticeships

Age requirement: 18 years

Length: Anywhere between 3 to 6 years (depending on what you study)

Degree apprenticeships have come a long way since they launched a few years ago and are rapidly growing in interest and popularity. Degree apprenticeships allow you to work towards achieving a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree (level 6 and 7 qualifications).

This can be a very demanding pathway, as you’ll be working alongside gaining your higher level qualification. It can take a lot of motivation, commitment and persistence, but you’ll have lots of support from everyone around you.

Where to From Here?

If you like the sound of what an apprenticeship has to offer and are keen to find out more, the dedicated Apprenticeships UK website is a great place to start!

If you want more of an idea about the types of roles currently available and the application process, the Apprenticeships GOV website has all the available listings ready for you to browse.

We’re also working with a wide range of employers and will be bringing new talks, workshops and webinars to you soon around what our employers have to offer in apprenticeships – watch this space and keep an eye on our events page for more details.

Or better yet, sign up for our newsletter and get all the latest opportunities delivered directly to you!


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