What students really want to know about apprenticeships

It’s National apprenticeship week, and we’ve worked with teen magazine, Future Mag to find out what students really want to know about apprenticeships

Will an apprenticeship narrow my options and will other employers respect the qualification?

You’ll learn a huge range of useful skills such as independent problem solving, teamwork, communication and so on. Employers respect these and many companies now help you work your way up to degree qualifications. Or you could start a subsequent apprenticeship in a different area, or go to university as a mature student. It’s the same as any other job – you can progress, switch or retrain.

How much will I get paid?

Minimum pay is £3.70 an hour, rising to £3.90 in April 2019, even for 19 year olds in their first year of an apprentice. Many employers do pay above this, and pay should rise regularly. Some degree apprenticeships start at £25,000 a year.

Will I miss out on a social life? Will I work alongside other young people?

This depends on the size of your employer and how many apprentices they hire. In smaller companies you might be the only apprentice, but larger companies might take on hundreds and lay on social and networking events. And you’ll meet up during training. But study might feel more intensive than a typical student schedule.

Is it hard work? Difficult to get a place?

Yes, you’ll be doing a full time job, with study. Competition for degree apprenticeships has been fierce, but numbers of places are growing. All employers want to see honesty, trustworthiness, commitment, accountability and adaptability – ask careers advisers how to start building up evidence to demonstrate these qualities.

Would I still live at home?

Probably – at least until your wages rise. Government is currently reviewing welfare benefits for apprentices and their families.

How would I learn?

An apprenticeship is 80:20 per cent on and off the job learning. Employers should make training relevant and timely, and you might do blocks of study, possibly on a residential as opposed to the traditional day a week. Some companies will train in-house.  If you’re doing a degree apprenticeship, you’ll enrol at a university.

What if I don’t like it?

Good companies and training providers will offer support – if you’re not happy, speak first to your employer contact or mentor. There should be no problem switching employers and continuing with an apprenticeship – and a training provider can help. If you’re over halfway through your apprenticeship, it might be worth seeing it through – beware of leaving with nothing to go to.  You have a right to use the training institution’s general careers department. You can also contact the National Careers Service, online, by phone or face to face.

What level of apprenticeship should I take?

Most apprenticeships are intermediate or advanced (levels 2-3), which are GCSE or A level equivalent. But after A levels, students’ options become broader and higher and degree apprenticeship are becoming more common.

Would I miss academic study?

What motivates you? If you don’t know what you want to do – and many don’t – but really enjoy an academic challenge, researching in depth or reading around a subject, you might prefer university. Apprenticeships are specific, applying what you learn directly at work. But graduates can now apply for apprenticeships at any level and some apprentices choose to go on to university later. Options now are more flexible.


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