Thinking about what to do after you leave school or college? One of the options your teachers or career advisors are probably telling you about is applying for an apprenticeship, which is a great way to get your foot in the door of your dream job. Read on to find out more about what an apprenticeship is, and how it can help you in your career goals.
So, what is an apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship is a nationally-recognised training programme that combines real work with learning and training. So, if you have an idea of what sort of job industry you want to work in someday, doing an apprenticeship will set you up with the qualifications you need to enter the field, plus hands-on experience of the work involved. Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to boost your career prospects when you have finished school, and they're also a great route for those already in employment who want to develop or change their future career prospects.
Apprentices work in a company as an employee, so as an apprentice you can earn money while working alongside experienced staff to gain job-related skills. Although there is a minimum salary of £2.65 set for apprentices, many earn more than that, and salaries can increase as you progress in your role. At the same time, apprentices study for a work-based qualification such as National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) that applies to the field they're working in. This means you'll leave the job with a good qualification plus experience - two key requirements to finding a permanent job later.
Who can apply?
Apprenticeships are available to anyone from the age of 16 who is not in full-time education, but some apprenticeships may have specific entry requirements. This can be certain kinds of GCSEs, or personal skills that will benefit the job role (such as being good with children if you want an apprenticeship at a nursery).
Apprenticeships give you high quality training for your career, and spots are very competitive. Employers will want to see that you are serious about pursuing a career in the industry, you understand what's expected in the job, and you have basic skills that will make you a good employee to have in their company.
How long does it take to finish?
Apprenticeships usually take between one and four years to complete, however it varies depending on the level of apprenticeship, the ability of the individual apprentice, and the employer's requirements.
There are three apprenticeship levels that indicate the sort of qualifications you'll get at the end - intermediate, advanced and higher. Each level builds on the qualifications and skills from the previous one, so by the end of a higher apprenticeship you could have an NVQ level 4 or a foundation degree.
Where can I apply?
Visit the Apprenticeship website at www.apprenticeships.org.uk
to find out more about what kinds of apprenticeships are available in your chosen field. You can also read about other peoples' experiences on their apprenticeships, and see if it's the right choice for you.