January is the ideal time for taking your end-of-year reflections and turning them into action plans! Whether you’re exploring end-of-school or college options, supporting someone who is, or looking for a career change this year, I thought it would be helpful to look at a topic I haven’t spoken about much… apprenticeships.

I was astonished to learn that apprenticeships have been around since the mid- 1500s! The concept of shadowing experienced colleagues and combining that with a structured learning scheme has stood the test of time. Apprenticeships allow employees to gain practical on-the-job skills and knowledge in their chosen field, enabling employers to nurture and develop their diverse workforce.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship combines practical training in a job with classroom learning. At the end of the apprenticeship, there’ll be an end-point assessment to check the apprentice has acquired the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviours to perform all aspects of their role.

This assessment can be done in different ways depending on the type of apprenticeship. But it may involve practical assessment, written or multiple-choice tests, a project, or an interview.

Types of apprenticeship

Apprenticeships are available in various industries and different attainment levels, meaning they’re accessible to school leavers and experienced professionals alike.

Most people think apprenticeships are for hands-on careers such as plumbers, electricians or mechanics. However, the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy has expanded the focus to include most areas of business operations.

There are four main types of apprenticeships on offer. These are:

1. Intermediate (Level 2). In England it’s compulsory to remain in education or training until the age of 18. An intermediate apprenticeship is an excellent alternative to staying on at school whilst gaining a qualification equivalent to five passes at GCSEs. A Level 2 apprenticeship will take around 12-18 months to complete (full- time). An intermediate apprenticeship may then lead to a higher apprenticeship programme if desired.

2. Advanced (Level 3). This is often seen as an alternative to going to university and is equivalent to gaining two good A-Level passes. A Level 3 apprenticeship will take between 18-24 months to complete (full-time).

3. Higher apprenticeship (Levels 4 and 5). Equivalent to a foundation degree, a higher apprenticeship can take one to five years to complete.

4. Degree (Levels 6 and 7). This type of apprenticeship is relatively new, with a Level 6 comparable to a Bachelor’s degree and a Level 7 equivalent to a Master’s degree. This type of apprenticeship combines working with studying part-time at university. On average, you’d spend 80% of your time working and 20% learning. For an idea of the different degree-level apprenticeships available, click here:


Five benefits of an apprenticeship

1. An immediate salary
If you’re keen to start earning some money and have a clear idea of the career path you want to take, an apprenticeship allows you to start making money whilst gaining specific and transferable skills. According to Glassdoor, the average apprenticeship salary is £19,319.

2. A foot in the door
According to, 90% of apprentices stay in employment after their apprenticeship has finished. If you want to start climbing the career ladder whilst others are trying to figure out their direction in life, an apprenticeship allows you to gain valuable employment experience and grow your networks, so you can get a head start on the competition.

3. An alternative to university
If you feel like university isn’t the right option for you or are concerned about tuition fees, accommodation and the cost of living whilst studying, a higher education or degree apprenticeship is a fantastic alternative. Whilst you may miss out on the
university ‘experience’, you’ll still be immersed in the university scene part-time. If you’re in a company with a large apprenticeship programme, you’ll still be working alongside peers and like-minded people.

4. Learning debt-free
Most university students leave with tens of thousands of pounds to repay. The costs of an apprenticeship are split between the employer and the government, so you can concentrate on developing your skills and career without the financial worries of full- time study.

5. Gaining recognised qualifications
An apprenticeship isn’t just learning the skills to do a job; it also works towards recognised qualifications you can develop and rely upon as you progress through your career.

Apprenticeships aren’t just for school and college leavers though!

In April 2017, the government introduced the Apprenticeship Levy for all employers with a yearly wage bill of over £3 million. Employers who meet this threshold pay 0.5% of their monthly payroll as a levy tax, which can be reinvested as apprenticeships.

This scheme has transformed the apprenticeship landscape, and employers are now offering a range of new and exciting apprenticeship programmes, including professional qualifications in areas such as business, IT, accounting and finance, media, marketing, procurement & supply, and property management.

If you thought apprenticeships weren’t for experienced professionals, think again! If you want to change careers this year but are concerned about supporting yourself or your family whilst retraining, an apprenticeship programme may be your solution.

Useful links

There are pros and cons to beginning an apprenticeship programme, but there are many helpful blogs and websites to help you weigh up the different choices available.

Here are some links you may find useful:

Are you interested in retraining or changing career in 2024?

Let’s discuss your options and how we can work together to make your dreams a reality. You can book your free virtual coffee and a chat here.

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