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Demystifying apprenticeships; everything you need to know

With apprenticeships being available for thousands of job roles in many different industries, we wanted to guide you through everything you need to know about them, including: what apprenticeships are, the benefits of completing them, and the facts behind some common myths.

Demystifying apprenticeships; everything you need to know

So, what is an apprenticeship? When completing an apprenticeship, most of your learning is through on the job training whilst working towards a qualification. You get dedicated study time throughout your working week and paid a salary like any other employee.

Across the UK there are many different types of apprenticeships, with England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all having their own frameworks. Entry requirements vary depending on the employer, the role, and the vacancy. It’s important to always read the vacancy carefully, and if you have any questions before applying you can contact the employer directly. Entry requirements aren’t all about qualifications though, employers are looking for the key skills for work too. These vary from role to role, but some of the most sought after are: listening, speaking, problem solving, creativity, staying positive, aiming high, leadership, and teamwork.

“Try and focus on the skills you are learning in school, rather than the information. Information will help you pass exams but skills will take you further in life. Work on perfecting those skills and you will thank yourself when you are further down the line working in a professional role.” - employee from one of our Employer Partner companies

Although the levels, frameworks and providers vary, the key benefits of apprenticeships stay the same.

One of the biggest benefits is that you’ll earn a salary whilst you learn. Minimum apprentice pay is £6.40/hour (from April 2024), but you’ll find many employers going above and beyond this. For example the Compliance Apprenticeship with Schroders has a starting salary of £25,000/annum. So not only will you come out of your apprenticeship without the debt of university, you’ll also have been earning a fair wage.

As an apprentice, you’ll also gain on the job training. Whilst a minimum of 20% of your time will be doing formal study, for the rest of your hours, you’ll be in the workplace, developing key skills and making connections. This means, even if you don’t want to continue with your employer at the end of your course, you’ll still be years ahead of your peers who have been solely studying, even if they do have a higher qualification.

Apprentices gain an industry-recognised qualification. Depending on the apprenticeship, this can vary from a Level 2 (SCQF Level 5, equivalent to a GCSE 4+), all the way up to a Masters Degree. Even better, this qualification is fully funded, meaning you won’t pay a penny of tuition or course fees.

There are many myths and misconceptions around apprenticeships, and we think it’s important to debunk these for you.

Will choosing an apprenticeship make my career less successful than going to university? Both university and apprenticeship qualifications will stand you in good stead when it comes to getting a job. It really depends on the industry you are looking to go into. If you want to go into medicine, you should go to university. However, for most industries like law, finance, accounting, engineering, business and manufacturing, an apprenticeship can be a much better option. There are many successful people who got to where they are by completing an apprenticeship! Also many apprenticeships pipeline directly into a job at that company. In fact, a Simply Academy article states:

“One study found that a huge 85% of apprentices stay in employment, and 64% of these continue working with the same employer.”

If I choose an apprenticeship will I earn less in the long run? No, although the average apprentice wage may seem low, your salary once qualified will in most cases take a jump. Most businesses work on salary scales and with your qualification and industry experience you will likely be further up your career ladder than those who attended university after you are qualified.

“The earning potential of university graduates and apprentices has previously been examined by The Sutton Trust, which found that apprentices can expect to earn thousands more in their lifetime than undergraduates from non-Russell Group universities.” (Should I go to university or do an apprenticeship?, Prospects)

Is going to university better than choosing an apprenticeship? Put simply, no, with an apprenticeship you gain experience of the workplace, knowledge and skills alongside your qualifications, which can help you leapfrog your peers that attend university in your career. Whilst studying an apprenticeship you will be paid an annual salary, and your qualification is fully funded. This means that you gain your qualification without the debt university entails, many university students have part time jobs on top of their study to be able to afford university life. With an apprenticeship you gain valuable co-worker relationships from an early stage in your career, whereas when you go into graduate roles you have to start from scratch.

Don’t employers require you to have a university degree? This may have been the case a few years ago, however many employers are moving away from requiring a degree level qualification and towards the need for skills, knowledge and experience.

Overall, at Uptree, we think apprenticeships are the perfect alternative to traditional pathways, providing you with on the job training, industry knowledge, skills and experience, and an industry recognised qualification. Having that experience, developed skills and on the job training will stand you in good stead to leapfrog your peers who follow the traditional pathways. Explore apprenticeships with leading employers and find your next step.

By Uptree
Published on: Mon 26 Feb 2024

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