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What is an Apprenticeship?

An Apprenticeship is the opportunity to gain a nationally, increasingly internationally, recognised set of qualifications through practical on and off the job training. Apprentices gain job-specific skills, work alongside experienced staff, and gain real-world experience all whilst earning a wage!

Will it expand my opportunities in the future?

Absolutely! Thanks to the in-depth, off-site training that Apprenticeships provide, many Apprentices go on to excel in their chosen sector although they do not restrict you from moving sector. Higher level Apprenticeships can even lead to a qualification comparable to a university degree! Also, since you are spending time in the workplace as part of your apprenticeship, you naturally develop ‘soft skills’, like communication and teamwork. You can only adopt these skills by being in a working environment, they’re all transferrable to any career path you may take.

How will I learn on the Apprenticeship?

In terms of learning styles, Apprenticeships are best-suited to those people who want to get into the workplace straight away, or who prefer a hands-on approach to learning. The learning on your Apprenticeship will be divided two ways, on-the-job training, and off-the-job training. The on-the-job training will be everything the employer teaches you. Both theoretical and practical on-site training. The off-the-job training will be the days you are at college, or if you are completing any training sessions while in the workplace (webinars, online video sessions).

What are the advantages?

One of the biggest reasons for the growth in popularity of Apprenticeships is that they are debt free. Apprenticeship training is co-funded by the government and the employer and the learner/Apprentice does not pay course fees (subject to eligibility). Another advantage is that from day one, Apprentices are on the frontline, working and learning practical skills that they’ll use throughout their careers. Also, on an Apprenticeship, a learner will finish their placement with professional and vocational qualifications that are ‘job-role’ and industry-specific. You’ll also be able to learn new skills and work to pay the bills all in one go, you’ll earn whilst you learn.

Will I have to take exams on an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are not largely exam based, though some do include an exam or test as part of the overall assessment. On the new Apprenticeship standards, your progress is assessed throughout and at the end via a variety of diverse methods, making it less pressured for those of you that don’t like sitting long exams! For example, assessments can take place through professional discussions with your Personal Tutor, practical demonstrations for technical Apprenticeships, competency-based interviews, review of work-based projects, Q & A sessions and practical observations.  

Will it restrict my social life?

Absolutely not. You can socialise with colleagues, other Apprentices in your organisation, or the people you see at your college every week. This may not be as many people as you would be seeing if you went to university for example, but the sacrifice is completely worth it if the Apprenticeship sets you up on the right path for your career. It’s about weighing up what’s important to you. You will be working an average of 35-40 hours a week so there is still plenty of time for social activities.

Am I eligible for an Apprenticeship?

In addition to deciding if apprenticeships are right for you, there is an eligibility criteria as follows:

  • A learner can only start their Apprenticeship after the last Friday in June of the academic year in which they have their 16th birthday.
  • They are not enrolled on another Apprenticeship, or another DfE funded FE/HE programme, at the same time as any new Apprenticeship they start.
  • An Apprentice must not use a student loan to pay for their Apprenticeship (where an individual transfers to an Apprenticeship from a full-time further education or higher education course, and this course has been funded through a student loan, this loan must be terminated).
  • Spend at least 50% of their working hours in England over the duration of the Apprenticeship.
  • Have the right to work in England.
  • A citizen of a country within the European Economic Area (EEA) (including other countries determined within the EEA or those with bilateral agreements), or have the right of abode in the UK, and have been ordinarily resident in the EEA (including other countries determined within the EEA or those with bilateral agreements), for three continuous years prior to the first day of learning.

Employers may ask for two or more GCSE grades (A*-C) or equivalent. For some intermediate Apprenticeships, however, no formal qualifications are required. If you don’t have GCSEs in English and Maths you’ll usually be required to take a basic numeracy and literacy test.

Conclusion – Is an Apprenticeship right for me?

The best way to decide whether or not an Apprenticeship is right for you is to do your research. Think about your career ambitions and look at your potential paths.

For some more help and facts about Apprenticeships, here is another news story discussing the Top 5 Reasons Apprenticeships are becoming more popular than the University route.

Also, take a look at our Case Studies section, here you’ll find different Apprentices from different sectors talking about how they found the course they chose and why they love it!

Here are a couple of snippets from some of our case studies:

Melissa Harris – Melissa Harris started her level 2 Business Administration Apprenticeship in January 2018. Despite gaining qualifications at school, college and university previously, Melissa had not progressed in a role in her qualified subject. Therefore she decided that undertaking an Apprenticeship would mean that she gains on the job experience and a practical qualification that would enable her to have a job in this field for life.

Cat Gold – From starting out as a level 2 Customer Service Apprentice in 2012, Cat Gold has evolved into an inspirational Client Services Manager at Intergage - one of the south’s leading B2B Digital Marketing Agencies.

James Southern – When James left school at sixteen, he admits he had no idea what he wanted to do as a career.  He prepared his CV and booked an appointment at his local Connections Employment Agency who helped James explore his passion for performance cars and engineering.  They introduced James to Paragon Skills who talked through his options with regards to Automotive Apprenticeships.

If you are interested in learning whilst you are earning a salary, gaining valuable work experience and nationally recognised qualifications, then have a look at our Apprenticeship Vacancies and see what opportunities are available in your area.

If you would like to find out more about how Paragon Skills can help you to develop an Apprenticeship programme to ensure the future talent pipeline for your organisation, please contact us on 0800 783 2545.