What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are a way in which you can work, earn and gain additional qualifications in many different careers.

You can become an apprentice once you have completed your GCSE’s and apprenticeships can help you gain Level 2 qualification right up to a Degree qualification.  See below for a more detailed look at each level of apprenticeship on offer: –

Intermediate apprenticeships (level 2)

An intermediate apprenticeship is also called a level 2 apprenticeship. It has two names, like that one friend that we all have, whose name is Steven, but everyone calls him Pete.

This type of apprenticeship has been designed for students with two or more GCSEs graded at levels 9 to 4 (A* to C). If you don’t meet the entry requirements, there is the option of completing a traineeship to prepare you for an intermediate apprenticeship. Some employers will accept apprentices if they have relevant work experience, so make sure you check the entry requirements for each job!

Intermediate apprentices spend the majority of their time working with an employer, developing skills on-the-job, while studying towards a vocational qualification. Vocational qualifications are designed to give the student the knowledge and skills to perform a particular job.

At the end of an intermediate apprenticeship, you will have gained a qualification equivalent to five GCSEs. After this, you can work towards a BTEC, or begin an advanced apprenticeship.

Advanced apprenticeships (level 3)

If you walk around Greggs or your local career advice centre, you’ll see people in huddles, whispering about advanced apprenticeships and level 3 apprenticeships. There’s no need to panic, they are exactly the same thing.

An advanced apprenticeship is the step above an intermediate apprenticeship, but operates similarly. The entry requirements for advanced apprenticeships are 5 GCSEs graded at 9 to 4 (A* to C). An advanced apprentice will work as a full-time employee, and attend college or an in-house training centre on a day release basis.

If you complete an advanced apprenticeship, you will be rewarded with a level 3 NVQ, and a knowledge-based qualification. These qualifications are equivalent to two A-levels.

Higher apprenticeships (level 4/5)

When a higher apprentice walks into a room, everybody stops talking. There is an eerie silence. One person claps, then another, and soon enough, the entire room is cheering and stamping their feet. The crowd demands autographs, selfies and a speech.

If you like the sound of this adoration, the required grades for a higher apprenticeship are typically two A-levels or an advanced apprenticeship. A higher apprenticeship can be the equivalent of a foundation degree, Higher National Diploma (HND) or Higher National Certificate (HNC).

The length of this type of apprenticeship is dependent on the employer. Regulations require higher apprenticeships to last at least 12 months, but most apprentices are employed for 18 to 24 months.

Degree Apprenticeships

Degree apprenticeships are an opportunity for school and college leavers to get a debt-free, industry-designed degree and leap straight into a career.

Usually, young people have to make a choice when they leave school – do they go to university, or get a job straight away? It’s a difficult decision: both options have their benefits and drawbacks. The degree apprenticeship has been designed to give students the best of both worlds.

In a nutshell, candidates work for an employer and attend university at the same time. Employers partner up with a university, and the apprentice will split their time between working for them, and studying for a degree at the partner university.

  • Degree apprenticeship candidates work towards a Bachelors or Masters Degree
  • They get three to six years of professional work experience
  • All apprentices earn a salary
  • Apprentices do not pay university tuition fees – costs are covered by the government and their employer