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What are Apprenticeships and why do them?
Apprenticeships are in the news - even as an alternative to degree study. Find out what they are and the alternative versions on offer.....
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Apprenticeships come in all shapes and sizes. Read more about them below.

Apprenticeships - what you need to know

There has been an increasing amount of discussion about apprenticeships recently. The present government see it as a way of tackling the skills shortage often experienced in many industries as well as giving a boost to employment and training generally. Here we take a look at what they are and how they have evolved into direct competition to the traditional three year degree.

What are apprenticeships?

An apprenticeship is basically a job with training. Trainees are usually supported by both the employer and a training provider who makes sure the apprentice is covering the proper content while in the workplace. Apprentices usually receive some form of allowance or wage (more later). The length will depend on the type of apprenticeship undertaken, but they can last anything from one year onwards. Open to 16 year olds and over, apprenticeships are available in just about every occupational area you can think of - far too many to list here, but popular areas include Engineering, Construction trades, Hairdressing and Childcare to name a few.

So why do an apprenticeship?

Because it's a great way to get into a career with both training and earn money at the same time. An apprenticeship can gets hands on work experience with an employer than will often lead to a full time job at the end of it. According to government sources someone on an Advanced Apprentice can earn up to £117,000 more during the course of their career than someone without one.

What type of Apprenticeships are there?

There are three main levels of apprenticeships.

Intermediate Apprenticeships

For those with under 5 GCSEs A-C grades at the start. Pay can start from £2.73 per hour (Oct 14), but this is a minimum and can be higher with some employers. Progression onto further levels of training is a possibility. Successful completion of training at this level is the equivalent to GCSE 5 A-C grades.

Advanced Apprenticeships

For those with 5 GCSEs A-C grades at the start. Pay can be up to £200 per week and even more depending on the employer. Progression can be onto further levels of training and qualifications. Successful completion of this level of training is the equivalent to two A levels.

Higher Apprenticeships

For those with good A level results at the start. Pay can be up to £25,000 per year at completion of training. Progression can include going onto higher education e.g. Foundation degrees and beyond, as well as professional recognition for certain industries. Employers involved include Rolls Royce, IBM, Deloitte and PwC.

The new Apprenticeship Degree

There is a new level of apprenticeship introduced in March 2015. This is the Apprenticeship degree. They are still in their infancy, but they have been designed to be comparable to a traditional Hons degree from a conventional university. The costs of the training is met by the government and the employer, so there is no university debt to pay at the end of the course. Occupational sectors covered include IT and Manufacturing to name a couple. Companies involved include BT, Fujitsu, Ford, Glaxo and the Lloyds Banking Group while the some of the higher education partners are Exeter, Aston, Loughborough, Manchester Met and the University College London.

So should I do an Apprenticeship?

That depends on you. What type of person are you? What type of career are you looking for (you can't be doctor through this form of training)? Do you like the idea of working, training and earning an income at the same time? Then an apprenticeship could be for you. However you'll need to understand that an apprenticeship is a job, albeit with training, but a job nevertheless. You'll get a minimum of 20 days holiday, so not the weeks and weeks off that your students at college and university will get. Also the nature of work will be different to what you've been used to. That's not to say there are endless cups of tea to make and floors to continuously sweep, but you won't necessarily be doing cutting edge activities all the time either.

Apprenticeship Vacancies - Still Interested?

So if you're interested where do you find out where the vacancies are and what in?

One of the first places to look is the government's own apprenticeship vacancies list. You can also check out our list of more organisations that offer vacancies and advice for budding apprentices.

The National Careers Service offer useful help and guidance on creating a good application form.
For those in Scotland you can contact Apprenticeships in Scotland while potential apprentices in Wales can approach Careers Wales for more information.

Article on Apprenticeships