Apprenticeships have had a negative snobbery directed towards them over the years. This is due to the society in the UK, over a few generations buying into the thinking that university is the only sure way to a) formal study and
b) getting a good job to earn good money and make you set for life. While we know this is no truer than it is for any form of education, much of society still go along with this thinking. We, at LS, know from years of experience enabling students to go either pathway – university, apprenticeship or straight into a job, that the onus is always a) on the individual and his / her mindset b) circumstances and how equipped that individual is at the time to deal with positive and negative circumstances c) level of maturity to move onto the next step outside of school.
We say codswallop to it all!
LS is about life long learning and by the time these articles come to you, you would have gone through Covid-19 and realise that life is about living and going after your interests – and they may be many. You would hopefully have given deep thought to what you are interested in. What you would like to pursue and how you might start to go about it. Hopefully, LS will be one of the critical guides in your search for information and its application.
Apprenticeships, vocational education or technical education is about a type of learning which prepares you for a specific speciality as a technician or a professional. Professional vocational occupations include architecture, accountancy, medicine, engineering, law, to name a few.
Types of Apprenticeships – A Brief Overview
Level 2 – Intermediate Apprenticeships which are the equivalent of getting 5 GCSEs at Grades 4 – 9
Level 3 – Advanced Apprenticeships which are the equivalent of Level 3 BTECs at College or A-Levels
Level 4, 5, 6 – Higher Apprenticeship which is equivalent to different levels at university. So, Level 4 is equivalent to the first year; Level 5 is the second year and Level 6 is the final year. Level 6 would be the Degree Apprenticeship which is again equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree.
Level 7 – Professional Apprenticeship. This apprenticeship is equivalent to a Masters degree.
Degree Apprenticeships – An Overview
A degree apprenticeship is a job combined with a university degree. It is equivalent to a bachelor’s degrees (Level 6). In some instances, you may even get a postgraduate degree qualification, but it is wise to Always double check before applying, as some apprenticeships offer a degree level qualification instead of an actual degree. You will have access to the provider’s learning and training facilities and student support. Remember a key benefit to this type of programme, unlike going the traditional route to uni, is that you are earning while you learn, lovely!
Now, degree apprenticeships vary, some last between 3 and 6 years and you will be either at your work or place of study five days a week. You must check how your apprenticeship divides your work and study time, e.g. are you working 3 days a week and attending uni two days a week or studying online in your own time or are you attending uni in a block of a week or more (block release). Check carefully!
Is a degree apprenticeship right for you?
You will definitely need to consider your character, your learning style and what you really want to achieve.
Ask yourself first some of the following:
· “Would I rather be earning while I am learning about an area/trade/profession that I am really interested in at least for the next 10yrs?” Circumstances can change in the medium to long term and you may wish to go in a different direction, but you need to be building knowledge, skills and a foundation to launch off of at this moment. Could this path of study be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for?
· “Am I well organisation, enjoy self-independence, self-motivation and have good communication skills?” You’ll need this mindset and skills (built from school) more than ever here. It’s not all about partying in the first year and getting enough to pass into the second year where your grades really start to count. You will be expected to be focused from the start. You will be expected to manage yourself when it comes to studying the theory. Your employers are expecting you to be and show dedication and to apply your new knowledge as you work in the organisation. Do not ever forget you will be under constant observation. Your employers are investing in you through paying you and training you.
· “Am I doing the right research or just jumping on a bandwagon?” Just as you would do careful research if you were going straight to university, you should approach the degree apprenticeship in the same way – do careful research. You want to make sure that the apprenticeship, employer and job are the right fit for you and your aspirations.
Higher Apprenticeships – An Overview
A higher apprenticeship is equivalent to a foundation degree. It is a full-time job with a study element – a day release or maybe two at a college, university, via distance learning or online. In some higher apprenticeships, you can springboard onto a degree route but, you will need to research beforehand to see if this is an option, if you’re interested in going further. Remember, a higher apprenticeship path, like the degree apprenticeship is a commitment to a career path. So do your research properly and be quite sure about the sector you want to enter before applying.
You will not always get a qualification called a Foundation Degree, but you will receive an equivalent qualification NVQ Level 4 or a Higher National Diploma (HND). In your research check for these details via the website and contacting the organisation to confirm before applying.
Just note, organisations such as PriceWaterhouse (PwC) have apprenticeship programmes including Higher Apprenticeships.
Further things to consider when thinking about apprenticeships
· There is no age limit on being an apprentice although, if over 24yrs funding may be slightly different.
· You won’t get a student loan. However, degree apprenticeships are paid for by the employer and the government. You will need to pay the costs for your living arrangements, food and travel.
· You will receive at least the minimum wage for an apprentice. See -
· You can apply for as many apprenticeships as you like. You can also apply for apprenticeships along with university applications.
· You should have an up-to-date, proofread CV displaying your best attributes.
· You should prepare for an apprenticeship interview. Good research will help with this and build your confidence.
· Remember that there is a broad spectrum of specialisms that are offered through apprenticeships – journalism, marketing, administration, finance, science and research to legal, to name a few!
· Apprenticeships make you job-ready for the job role and sector of your interest.
· You will get a workplace mentor to support you who is someone with a lot of experience and who will support you through your job and studies. You will not be alone.
· Apprenticeships are real jobs respected by employers.
· There are many options after an apprenticeship. Many employers will ask you to stay after your apprenticeship as you know the ins and outs of the business. Often you can choose to move to another organisation or even to a higher-level course as mentioned previously.
· Apprenticeships start throughout the year, so look regularly if you’re interested in this path of work and study.
Last but not least, use the following site as your first source for research but do not stop there: