We have provided answers to some of the more commonly asked questions here. Click on the relevant question button below to view the corresponding answer.
Case studies about the experiences of current and past apprentices can be viewed by clicking on the images to the right.
Q. Are apprenticeships popular and how do they work?
A. Yes, there are about 200,000 employers offering apprenticeships and over 800,000 apprentices in training.The employer pays the apprentice a wage and gives the apprentice on-the-job training which allows the apprentice to achieve a nationally recognised vocational qualification. The apprentice can also spend time with a training organisation or college, sometimes called training providers, gaining key skills that'll be useful in the job market - like working in teams, problem-solving, communication and using new technology. In addition, the apprentice studies for a technical certificate, a recognised qualification which gives further knowledge and understanding of the apprentice's job. Apprentices usually spend the majority of their time at work and the amount of time that is spent away from work can vary greatly between different industries and different training organisations.
Q. Who can be an apprentice?
A. There are no set entry requirements for apprenticeships. Apprentices just need to be living in England and not taking part in full-time education and normally working at least 30 hours a week. It should be noted that apprenticeships are fully funded by the Government for applicants aged 16-18 (i.e. those that start their apprenticeship before their 19th birthday) and there is a reduced level of funding available for applicants aged over 19 which may mean that a fee will be charged - usually to the employer. For applicants who are not eligible for government funding (including graduates) an apprenticeship programme will cost approximately £3,000 to £15,000 depending on the industry.
Q. How long does it take to complete an apprenticeship?
A. There is no set time to complete an apprenticeship as they vary widely in content and size. The length of time taken will depend on the ability of the individual apprentice and the employer's requirements. An apprenticeship will usually take anything from 1 to 4 years. There is a minimum duration of 1 year.
Q. What qualifications do Apprentices achieve?
A. Apprentices get a package of qualifications which vary according to the type of apprenticeship but will always include qualifications that prove what you can do (competence element), what you know (knowledge element) as well as Functional Skills qualifications in English and Maths.
Q. What is the difference between an Intermediate Apprenticeship and an Advanced Apprenticeship?
A. Intermediate Apprenticeships usually last at least a year and the apprentice works towards a number of qualifications covering practical skills, knowledge and general skills such as communication and number. Advanced Apprenticeships are at a higher level and usually last at least two years with the advanced apprentice working towards progressing their practical skills knowledge and general skills to the next level. Advanced Apprentices will normally have some experience in the relevant industry or occupation as well as a good basic education.
Q. How can you find the right apprenticeship for you?
A. The search function on the National Apprenticeships website enables you to select the nearest town to where you live or work and the occupation that you are interested in. The results display information about the training organisations that are best suited to help you. You can then contact these organisations by e-mail or via an enquiry form.
Q. If I want to do an Apprenticeship but I'm not sure which occupation to choose - what should I do?
A. You need to be sure of what occupation you would like to get into before you apply for an apprenticeship. It is also a good idea to get advice from your careers adviser (if you are still at school) or contact the National Careers Service.
Q. Is there any information on apprenticeships for parents/guardians?
A. A Parent's Guide to Apprenticeships has been produced by the government to outline information on and benefits of apprenticeships as a key route into a successful career.
Q. How much do Apprentices get paid?
A. All employed apprentices will get a wage. The National Minimum Wage (NMW) for apprentices is £3.30 per hour (please note that wage rates for roles within the agricultural sector may differ from the minimum wage stated above). However, as skills develop, many employers tend to increase wages – in fact, research has found that apprentices earn an average of £170 net pay per week. The apprentice NMW applies to all 16 to 18 year olds and to those aged 19 and over in the first year of their apprenticeship. If an apprentice reaches age 19 and has completed the first year of the apprenticeship the employer must pay at least the full NMW rate for those aged 18 to 20. If an apprentice is already 19 and has completed the first year of the apprenticeship the apprentice must be paid at least the NMW rate for their age. The NMW needs to be paid for time spent training and for holidays agreed in the apprentice's contract of employment.
Q. What is the position with apprentices and Council Tax?
A. Apprentices are not counted as adults for Council Tax purposes.
Q. How much does it cost an employer to take on an apprentice?
A. The cost to an employer will be the weekly wage that is paid to the apprentice. The cost will also depend on if the apprentice is eligible for government funding and if so how much - which will depend on the age of the apprentice and the occupational sector.
Q. Are all apprentices employed and do they get holidays?
A. Yes. All apprentices are employed and apprenticeships are also open to a company's existing employees. Employed apprentices are entitled to those holidays provided by their terms of employment. The Working Time Directive specifies the number of paid holiday per year as a minimum for employees. Just like any other job, the employer will have rules about how far in advance holidays need to be booked, and times that holidays cannot be taken.
Q. How are Apprenticeships developed and who sets the course content?
A. Apprenticeships are designed by businesses for businesses. Business representatives from the relevant sector or industry decide on the course content within their own sector. Because they genuinely understand each business sector, the training will be relevant to the job. All of the apprenticeship standards and assessment plans that have been produced by employers and agreed by the Government are published at www.apprenticeships.org.uk/standards. All of the standards that are currently being developed by employer groups are listed at www.apprenticeships.org.uk/standardsindevelopment.
Q. Who organises apprenticeships and what do training organisations do?
A. Apprenticeships are organised by training organisations, which can be private organisations or local colleges. These organisations receive funding to help with the costs of apprenticeships and organise and monitor the training programme. Most training organisations find new recruits for employers that want to take on an apprentice and some also find jobs for people who want to be apprentices.
Q. Do apprentices have to complete their training with their employer/do employers have to keep the apprentice to the end of their training?
A. Obviously the ideal situation is one where the apprentice and the employer stay together for the duration of the apprenticeship. In reality this can't always be the case and there must be flexibility on both sides. If an apprentice leaves their employment they can continue with their apprenticeship elsewhere depending on the circumstances.