Everything Apprentices Need to Know About Apprenticeships
Posted on Friday, 11th March 2022 by Catherine
Is an apprenticeship right for you? In this blog we will explain how you can earn and learn at the same time, how to find available apprenticeships, along with the benefits and what to expect when starting an apprenticeship.
What is an Apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship is a real job where you get paid with an employment contract and holiday entitlement. During your employment you can learn and gain valuable work experience. It can take anywhere between 1 and 6 years to finish an apprenticeship depending on the level you have chosen and any previous experience. This is fully funded by the government and employer contributions.
By the end of your apprenticeship, you will have gained valuable knowledge and skills for your chosen career path.
There are various levels of apprenticeships, and you can start at any level depending on your job role and experience. At the end of your apprenticeship, you will achieve a qualification that is equivalent to the education level below:
Becoming an apprentice and the benefits
If you are just starting out in your career, wanting a change or upskilling in your current job an apprenticeship could be right for you, even if you have previous qualifications such as a degree you can still start an apprenticeship!
The only mandatory requirements to becoming an apprenticeship are:
- You must be 16 or over
- Not already in full-time education
- Living in England (If you don’t live in England, check out apprenticeship options in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland.
These are the some of the highlights of becoming an apprentice:
- learn and train for a specific job whilst earning
- get paid and receive annual holiday leave entitlement
- achieve valuable work experience in a real job
- study for at least 20% of your working hours (classed as ‘off the job training’ - usually this can be achieved at a college, university or with a training provider)
- complete assessments during and at the end of your apprenticeship
- be on a career path with lots of potential and progression opportunities
What does an apprentice earn?
It all depends on what industry, the location of the employer and the level of apprenticeship you choose. Many employers offer a competitive salary, but this is the minimum you will earn:
- If you're aged 16 to 18 or in the first year of your apprenticeship, you’re entitled to the apprentice rate.
- If you're 19 or over and have completed the first year of your apprenticeship, you’re entitled to the National Minimum Wage.
- If you are 16-24 and a care leaver, you’ll also receive a £1,000 bursary payment to support you in the first year of your apprenticeship!
How to find an apprenticeship
If you are looking for an apprenticeship near you head to 'Find an apprenticeship'. This is an online government apprenticeships service which allows you to search and apply for apprenticeship opportunities advertised by employers. You can search opportunities in your region and also your ‘sector’ of interest without creating an account, but if you do create an account, you will be able to:
- save any apprenticeship opportunities that interest you
- set up alerts for new apprenticeship opportunities relevant to your interests
- apply, manage and monitor your applications in one place
It’s really easy to create an account, you will need to:
- click on 'create an account'
- submit your details (email address, date of birth, address and contact number)
- create a password
- choose your contact preferences
- agree to the terms and conditions and privacy statement
Apprenticeships with Essential Site Skills
If you are considering a Business Administration Apprenticeship or Management Apprenticeship (with integrated Diploma), then why not consider one of Essential Site Skills Trailblazers?...
We offer the “added-value” qualification of completing the ILM Level 3 Diploma for Managers (Management Trailblazer) or the City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma for the Business Administrator (Business Administration Trailblazer) covering areas such as, Leading & Managing People, Personal and Professional Development, Managing Performance, Communication, Project Management and Finance to name but a few.
Applying for an apprenticeship near me
There are plenty of government apprenticeships near you, with hundreds available to apply for. Ensure you create an account on find an apprenticeship where you can save any apprenticeships you like and even apply at a later date.
Employers sometimes offer apprenticeship opportunities on their website so you can apply directly with them.
It can take quite a few applications to find the right apprenticeship for you, so apply for several at a time to increase your chances and not wait around for one employer to respond.
When you’ve found the right apprenticeship then make sure you apply with a CV and a covering letter, if you need help with writing your CV you can find support with the National Careers Service.
The interview process
If you are engaging with a new employer and one of your applications is successful, the next step is to be invited to an interview. If you are starting an apprenticeship to upskill with your current employer then it’s likely this won’t apply to you.
It's normal to feel nervous when you're preparing for an interview and employers will understand this, and the best way to help with nerves is to be prepared. The best advice for preparing, you should:
- Research the organisation well
- Understand and research the apprenticeship route you’ve chosen
- Make sure you know where the interview is and allow plenty of time to get there early
- Dress appropriately and stay focussed
- Always ask questions if you don’t understand
- Prepare for various types of interview processes (face to face, panel, over the phone or even over online platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Skype)
You can find more information on the National Careers Service to help you prepare and make a good impression at your job interview. The government website also includes the following handy guides to help you succeed!
Starting your apprenticeship
Your employer will contact you with the information about your new apprenticeship and job role before you start. If you are already employed, then you can follow up with your line manager directly.
When you are ready to start your apprenticeship, both your employer and training provider will have started the process and you will receive an email invitation to join the My apprenticeship service. This email will provide information on how you can review your apprenticeship details to ensure they are correct, and so you can confirm you are starting an apprenticeship. This service will allow you to access your apprenticeship information, so you understand what is expected of you, your employer and training provider, along with information and support for your apprenticeship. Your employer or training provider can support you with the My apprenticeship service if you have any problems.
If you are starting new employment alongside your apprenticeship then your employer will advise you of any contractual requirements such as working hours, dress code, any ID they require from you, travel arrangements/parking, and any induction processes so you know what to expect on your first day and who to report to. If you don’t have this information prior to joining, then it’s advised you contact your new employer to find out.
As part of your apprenticeship, you will need to spend at least 20% of your working time on what is called ‘off-the-job’ training, and there are plenty of ways you can easily achieve this with your training providers guidance. It can be completed online, training sessions with your apprenticeship coach, can be part of working days or even blocks of time. Activities such as joining a meeting at work could also contribute as ‘off-the-job’ if that’s something you don’t normally do. Your apprenticeship training provider and coach will work with you and your employer on this, to make sure it fits into your role and their business objectives.
Assessment and certification
You will need to demonstrate that you have achieved the knowledge, skills and behaviours for your apprenticeship programme with an end-point assessment. This is an assessment at the very end of your apprenticeship to ensure that you are fully competent in your chosen occupation.
The end-point assessment, also regularly referred to as an EPA, is always carried out by an independent organisation known as an EPAO (End-Point Assessment Organisation). This will have been organised by your training provider or employer at the start of your apprenticeship, and they will advise you what to expect and when your assessment will take place. It can include a practical demonstration of your skills and a discussion with an assessor that demonstrates your learning and abilities to do your occupation.
Once you have passed your end-point assessment, you will receive a certificate to show you have successfully passed your apprenticeship. Depending on the apprenticeship you may also receive a qualification such as the ‘City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma for the Business Administrator’, which we offer as added value with our Level 3 Business Administration Apprenticeship at Essential Site Skills or the ‘ILM Level 3 Diploma for Managers’ which is part of our Level 3 Team Leader / Supervisor Apprenticeship.
Alternatives to apprenticeships
Have you considered T Levels or Traineeships as an alternative?
T Levels are aimed at 16-18 year olds, with a two year course offering classroom learning alongside an industry placement.
To find out more about T Levels, you can:
- visit the T level campaign website
- visit the T level employer website
- read the introduction to T levels
- Visit the National Careers Service website or speak to an adviser using their webchat or call 0800 100 900
Traineeships are also a great option for 16-24 year olds who don’t have the skills or experience to take on a job or apprenticeship, more of a development programme where individuals can complete an unpaid work placement alongside a training course. You can find more information here.