A guide to apprenticeships

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a genuine job and under all circumstances apprentice's should be employed from day one. Apprenticeships combine practical training in a job with study.

What levels are there?

All apprenticeships include elements of on the job and off the job training, leading to industry recognised standards or qualifications. Some apprenticeships also require an assessment at the end of the programme to assess the apprentice's ability and competence in their job role.

  • Intermediate (Level 2) - equivalent to 5 GCSE passes at grade A* - C
  • Advanced (Level 3) - equivalent to 2 A-Level passes/Level 3 Diploma/International Baccalaureate
  • Higher (Levels 4, 5, 6 and 7) - equivalent to foundation degree and above
  • Degree (Levels 6 and 7) - equivalent to bachelor's or master's degree

What can you earn?

The national minimum wage (NMW) for apprentices is £3.70 per hour from April 2018. The apprentice NMW applies to apprentices aged under 19 or aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship.

Apprentices aged 25 and over, and not in the first year of their apprenticeship, will be entitled to the National Minimum Wage.

This is the legal minimum for pay per hour, most receive more. The Apprenticeship Pay Survey 2016 estimated the average gross hourly pay received by apprentices in Great Britain was £6.70 an hour for Level 2 and 3 apprentices which is equivalent to nearly £14,000 per year.

What's in it for you?

  • Earn a real wage
  • Be trained in skills employers want
  • You will set yourself up for the future - apprentices enjoy marked salary increases when they complete their training, and those completing a higher apprenticeship could see increased earnings of an estimated £150,000 over their lifetime (AAT and CEBR).

Entry requirements

Apprenticeships are available to anyone over the age of 16, living in England. The National Apprenticeship Service is committed to ensuring that high-quality apprenticeships are a prestigious option, accessible to all people from all backgrounds. All vacancies on Find an Apprenticeship will clearly state what the entry requirements are for the job role being advertised. There will be different entry requirements depending on the industry, job role and apprenticeship level.  

How many hours per week should you be working?

The minimum duration of each apprenticeship is based on the apprentice working 30 hours a week or more, including any off-the-job training you undertake.

However, this does not apply to every circumstance. For example, people with caring responsibilities or people with a disability may work reduced weekly hours. Where this is the case, the duration of the apprenticeship will be extended to take account of this.

The time spent on off-the-job training should be at least 20% and should be included as part of your hours. Your employer must allow you time to complete your apprenticeship within your working hours. If you need support with English and Maths this should also be within working hours.

Where can you look for an apprenticeship?

 You can 'get in and go far' with an apprenticeship at some of Britain's biggest and brightest companies. With so many opportunities on offer, there are several ways you can find the apprenticeship that is right for you.

For local training, companies visit our online business directory.

More information, including videos of current apprentices, is available at getingofar.gov.uk. You can search and apply for vacancies on Find an Apprenticeship on GOV.UK. Once you register on Find an Apprenticeship, you can set up email and text alerts about new apprenticeship vacancies that may interest you.

Contact the National Apprenticeship Helpdesk for further support on 0800 015 0400 or by email: nationalhelpdesk@findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk.