Apprenticeships 101 – what you need to know

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a paid job in which the employee learns and develops valuable skills.

Apprentices spend at least 20% of their working hours (in addition to on-the-job training) doing classroom-based study with a college, university, or training provider that leads to a nationally recognised qualification.

An apprenticeship includes:

  • paid employment with holiday leave
  • hands-on-experience in a sector/role of interest
  • at least 20% off-the-job training*
  • formal assessment which leads to a nationally recognised qualification

*NB – this is based on the apprenticeships in England. Check out the criteria and other apprenticeship info from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Who is eligible to apply for an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are available to people over the age of 16, who are not in full-time education. Typically, apprenticeships are available for post-GCSEs and post-A-Level, however they are also available for those who’ve completed a foundation, bachelor’s and master’s degrees! There is no upper age limit for apprenticeships.

The different levels of apprenticeships available across the UK.

How much are apprentices paid?

Apprenticeships can last between 1 and 4 years, depending on the sector and role in which you choose to work. Apprentices’ salary is typically based on a rate per hour.

Until 31st March 2022, first year apprentices are paid an hourly rate of £4.30, and £4.81 from April 2022. In subsequent years, the hourly rate falls in line with the appropriate National Minimum wage (see screenshot from below):

What kind of businesses and industries offer apprenticeships?

All kinds of businesses offer apprenticeships, of any size, in any industry. The Welsh government apprenticeships website has this list, for example:

  • Advanced Manufacture & Materials
  • Agriculture and Environment
  • Automotive, Transport and Logistics
  • Business and Management
  • Catering and Hospitality
  • Childcare Services
  • Construction and Building Services
  • Creative & Design
  • Digital Technology
  • Education and Information Services
  • Energy
  • Engineering
  • Food and Drink
  • Hair and Beauty
  • Healthcare Services
  • Health & Social Care Services
  • Legal and Financial Services
  • Life Sciences
  • Property Services
  • Protective Services
  • Public Services
  • Retail
  • Travel, Tourism and Leisure

What happens after I finish my apprenticeship?

This is totally up to you! There are several options that open up for you. Many apprentices continue working for the same company, either to go on to the next level of apprenticeship (i.e. getting to A-Level or Degree level qualifications) or to be offered a full-time job. You may decide that you want to look for work elsewhere or gain further qualifications independently.