How apprenticeships work
On an apprenticeship, you’re employed to do a real job while studying for a formal qualification, usually for one day a week either at a college or training centre. By the end of your apprenticeship, you’ll hopefully have gained the skills and knowledge needed to either succeed in your chosen career or progress onto the next apprenticeship level.
The starting point is having at least Level 1 in English & Maths (GCSE grade 3 or D). Minimum wage in the first year is £4.15/hour but some apprentices earn more. For example, Business Administrator £18,000/year, Dental Nurse £261/week.
Register on the government website and set up search alerts to learn about what’s available and how you get the qualification.
The Pros and Cons of apprenticeships
- You can earn and learn while living at home
- They can start at any time of year
- Learning is free
- Apprentices can progress right up to getting a university degree while working
- It can lead to a job with the same company – no stress about job seeking again
- It’s full time commitment to work plus learning, so caring time is limited
- Pay is low, and travel costs are high unless the employer agrees to help
- There is no guarantee of a job with the employer when finished
“I was just about to apply for university finance to study Psychology when I changed my mind completely and applied for a Rail Engineer apprenticeship with GTR.
It’s a Level 3 apprenticeship which takes 4 years. The first year you spend in college, getting paid. Every year you get paid £2,000 more. My hours are now 7am-2pm and that gives me time to help mum.
The application process was long – there were 5 different stages. To succeed you need to show interest in the field and related knowledge. Not specific knowledge, just something to show that you are willing to learn more. I talked to them about car mechanics.
I’m not very academic. But If you choose something you like, you don’t mind doing the written work as long as you get the practical experience. Schools really push you toward university, and steer people they think aren’t smart to apprenticeships. But you need to be far smarter to do an apprenticeship.
You can go to university and end up 3 years later back home looking for your first job. This way you can start earning early and have a nearly guaranteed job when you finish. We have never been the most well off and I wanted to be set up in a career fast.
Think ahead to your future. You can be saving money during an apprenticeship by not paying to live somewhere. When I finish, I expect to have enough saved for a deposit to buy a flat or house.”