Let’s Talk About Apprenticeships

If you’re weighing up your options after leaving school, whatever future career you might be considering, be sure to consider an apprenticeship as your next step.

If you’re an academic student who simply presumed that University was the logical next step, don’t be so quick to dismiss an apprenticeship as a good alternative to university. In a recent survey, 87% of apprentices said they would recommend their apprenticeship to others who wish to train in that occupation. 

Here are some FAQ’s regarding apprenticeships to help you decide what may be right for you…

Aren’t apprenticeships for people who want to go into manual trades?

While there is a broad spectrum of apprenticeships for all kinds of trades from plumbing to hairdressing, the idea that apprenticeships only cater for more manual trades is outdated. These days, there are apprenticeships available across an incredibly broad spectrum of careers, from HR, to accounting, to public services. 

Which is better, a degree or an apprenticeship?

Both a degree and an apprenticeship are valuable, well respected pathways to any number of careers. Both qualifications are given a ‘level’, which means depending on the apprenticeship you choose, upon completion you may leave with a degree-level qualification.

The main advantage of apprenticeships is that you are paid while you learn. This makes them an attractive option for students who are put off by the high price tag of undergraduate degrees. The other big advantage is that apprenticeships train you in a real-world setting. It’s not all tests and textbooks; you’ll be learning on the job and it will leave you arguably better equipped to face the world of work than someone who is fresh out of university. 

That said, it’s not for everyone. Certain careers specifically require a university degree (also called a bachelor’s degree) to advance, and the pay you’ll receive as an apprentice may be too low to live on alone. However, there is often additional financial support that is available to apprentices, so it’s worth doing your research about what benefits may be available to you while you’re learning- both at university and as an apprentice. It’s also worth noting that if you’re under 25 and have previously been in local authority care, you may be eligible for a bursary. 

What are the different ‘levels’ of apprenticeship?

Every apprenticeship will be attributed a ‘level’, which is effectively a grade of difficulty and allows for comparison across different qualifications. Depending on your age and what qualifications you have before starting your apprenticeship, you may have to start with a level 2 or 3 apprenticeship, or you may be looking at going straight in at a level 4+ apprenticeship if you have more/higher qualifications.

Level 2 – 3 apprenticeships:

  • Intermediate/advanced apprenticeship
  • For school leavers aged 16+
  • Generally require some GCSEs

Level 4 – 7 apprenticeships:

  • Higher/degree apprenticeships
  • For school leavers 18+ who have A-levels or equivalent qualifications
  • Generally pay higher than minimum wage

What’s the difference between a ‘higher apprenticeship’ and a ‘degree apprenticeship’?

Higher apprenticeships go from level 4 to 7 and are equivalent to a foundation degree and above e.g. a professional qualification. Degree apprenticeships are available at levels 6 and 7 and equate to a full bachelor’s degree up to a Master’s degree.

How much will I earn?

There are two key factors that determine what kind of pay you can expect to receive as an apprentice: your age, and what level of apprenticeship you are undertaking. 

All apprenticeships pay a national minimum wage, which varies depending on how old you are:

Under 18 = £4.55

18-20 = £6.45

21 and over = £8.20

25 and over = £8.72

However, it’s important to know that the minimum wage for ALL apprentices £4.15 in their first year of apprenticeship, regardless of age. 

Higher and Degree Apprenticeships tend to pay higher than the national minimum wage, with some employers offering salaries as high as £23,000 per year. However, please bear in mind that all employers and apprenticeships are different.

All in all, apprenticeships are great options for many. Do your research and try to gauge whether or not an apprenticeship will offer you the best step up to the career you’re looking for. For more information, help, and advice, here at Your Game Plan, we’re here to help! With industry-proven tools and insights directly from leading UK organisations, we’re here to help you get a competitive edge with skills courses and workshops, all for free!

Explore the YourGamePlan courses here…

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