Apprenticeships offer real life work experience

From engineering to nursing and from law to design – thousands of apprenticeships are available every year in a vast range of industries and careers.

They are available and realistic alternative to university offering students the chance to gain hands-on experience and learn skills that employers want, helping to shape their future career.

Apprentices earn a competitive salary in a real job while all their training is paid for and they can continue their education up to degree level.

Pay is dependent on the industry, location and type of apprenticeship – for example, some higher apprenticeships can pay as much as £500 per week.

Apprenticeships are often a popular option for people who don’t want to have the worry of student debt hanging over them in the future.

Higher apprenticeships range between Level 4, which is the equivalent of one year of higher education study, to Level 6, which is the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree.

They cover around 75 industries and more than 100 different job roles, ranging from legal services to banking and engineering.

Higher and degree apprentices typically split their time between college or university and the workplace.

An apprenticeship can lead to a long-term job after the initial contract is completed.

You can also pick up life-long skills that will be useful and adaptable to any industry.

The whole time you will be making a good name for yourself and building professional contacts which will benefit you greatly in the future As with other apprenticeships, students are employed throughout and the cost of the fees are shared between Government and their employer.

Many employers choose to pay substantially more than the apprenticeship minimum wage, which is £3.70 per hour for those under 19.

As well as having many benefits for apprentices, the scheme is also popular with employers. Many see it as an investment because they can guide and train their recruits to have the specific skills required for the industry and ensure they are reliable members of the workforce.

Employers want an apprentice who is polite, punctual and reliable. 

They also want a quick learner who can follow instructions and advice and someone who can think on their feet to fix any problems that crop up.

Firms will be looking for a team player, who will fit into the existing workforce well.

Their apprentice will need to have good people skills, especially if the role involves dealing with customers or the public.

For more information and support on applying for an apprenticeship go online to

Keith Smith, director of the National Apprenticeship Service, which coordinates apprenticeships in England, dispels five common myths surrounding apprenticeships

1. Apprenticeships are for people who don’t do well at school 

Apprenticeships are an alternative route into skilled employment and offer people of all ages and backgrounds the chance to progress in work and life. They’re a great way to earn while you learn, gain vital work
experience and set yourself on a fast track to a successful career.

2. Apprenticeships are only available in manual industries

Apprenticeships are now available in hundreds of occupations in many industries, ranging from nuclear to fashion, and from banking to defence. And employer-led Government reforms are creating even better apprenticeships in more sectors, covering more roles, to help meet employer needs.

3. Apprenticeships are low quality

Quality is at the heart of apprenticeships which is why last year the government has launched the Institute for Apprenticeships, putting employers at the heart of decision making processes and ensuring all apprenticeships deliver the same high-quality training.

4. Apprenticeships don’t lead to good qualifications

Apprenticeships offer a great career pathway. Learners can progress from intermediate (Level 2) apprenticeships right up to Higher and even Degree Apprenticeships with top universities. Over four in five apprentices say an apprenticeship has improved their career prospects with 85 per cent going into work or further training.

5. Apprentices will never earn very much

Apprentices will receive at least the national minimum wage – currently £3.70 per hour for 16 to 18-year-olds and those aged 1 plus in the First year of their apprenticeship – and most employers will pay more than this. Apprenticeships boost earnings potential in the longer term too: individuals with an advanced apprenticeship earn between £77,000 and £117,000 more over their lifetime than similar individuals with Level 2 qualifications.