Apprenticeships
to kick start your career

About UK apprenticeships in 2018 & 2019

Apprenticeships offer you the chance to earn while you learn. You can start in almost any industry as an apprentice – from hairdressing to mechanics, engineering to accounting.

Apprenticeships are open to anyone aged 16 or above who is not in full-time education. You’ll receive a training programme that combines paid work with professional training, which will lead to a job-related qualification. Typically you will have one day a week that is dedicated to learning.

You progress through various levels as you complete your training, with salaries increasing on the completion of each level. They tend to be divided into four apprenticeship levels:

  • Intermediate (level 2)
  • Advanced (level 3)
  • Higher (level 4, 5, 6 and 7)
  • Degree (level 6 and 7)
You don’t necessarily have to complete all the levels listed above, it will depend upon the apprenticeship that you apply for.

No matter what level you’re working at, an apprenticeship means that you won’t have to pay a penny towards your tuition. If you’re between 16-18 years old the government will cover the whole of your costs, and if you’re older then it will be split between the government and your employer.

These programmes are perfect for school leavers who don’t want to continue in formal education and would rather learn through practical experience. It’s a great move if you know the type of career and industry you want to work in already.

While apprenticeships are usually marketed to school-leavers, there is actually no upper age limit for apprenticeships. It may be a bit more difficult, however, to get government funding if you’re over 25. Even if you’re a university graduate you can apply to an apprenticeship scheme, as long as your degree is not related to the apprenticeship you’re applying for.

In short, to apply for adults apprenticeships, you must meet four simple criteria:

  • Not be in full-time education
  • Be 16 or over
  • Live in England
  • Do not possess a related higher education qualification


The budget recently announced that the minimum apprenticeship wage will increase in April 2019 from £3.70 to £3.90, the biggest increase across all other minimum wage groups, so there really is no better time to begin your apprenticeships search.

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Apprenticeships by company

Find apprenticeships by region

Whether you're keen to stay close to home or move somewhere new, there are plenty of apprenticeships and school leaver programmes scattered across the country.

Whichever region you settle upon, we can show you the school leaver jobs that are available there right now. Click on the map or links below to explore further.

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Careers advice

What is an apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships are another way of gaining qualifications in the workplace. You also get to earn as you learn and gain valuable work experience and skills.
How to get an apprenticeship
You should start your apprenticeship search by asking yourself what kind of apprenticeship you’re looking for - Engineering? Hairdressing? Building control? There are hundreds of options. Once you’ve narrowed down your criteria, you can start searching for specific apprenticeship vacancies and save the ones that sound particularly interesting to you. After you have a shortlist of vacancies that you want to apply to, you can start putting together your CV and supporting documents. We have CV and cover letter templates for apprenticeships available to download on our student accounts if you need some extra guidance.

After carefully checking and proofreading your application, send it in according to the instructions that are given on the job listing.
Typical apprenticeship interview questions
There are a number of standard apprenticeship interview questions that you should prepare for, such as:

  • Why do you want to join the specific company you’re applying to as an apprentice?

  • What do you think being an apprentice will be like?

  • What skills do you have that will help you to succeed as an apprentice?

  • Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years?

  • What’s your biggest strength?

  • What’s your biggest weakness?

  • Tell us about a time when you overcame adversity.

  • Tell us about a time when you worked well in a team.

  • Are there any questions that you’d like to ask us?


Prepare ahead with answers for each of these questions to give yourself the best chance possible in the interview, but don’t panic if something else comes up that is not on the list! If you’d like some further advice on interviews, download TheBigChoice’s guide to interviews and assessment centres from our resource centre.
How much is the apprenticeship minimum wage?
Currently, the minimum apprenticeship wage is £3.70 per hour and it will increase to £3.90 in April 2019. Apprenticeships wage levels are reviewed each year alongside the national minimum wage; this year apprentices saw the biggest increase across all minimum wage groups.

If you are aged 19 or over and have completed the first year of your apprenticeship, you are entitled to receive the national minimum wage for your age. A breakdown of the national minimum wage can be found below:

Age£ per hour
16-17£4.20
18-20£5.90
21-24£7.38

This means that if you start a three-year apprenticeship when you are 17 you will be entitled to at least £5.90 per hour in the second year because you will be 19. However, even if you are over 19 years old when you begin the apprenticeship, you must complete the first year before you are entitled to the national minimum wage.

It’s worth remembering that these are the minimum rates of pay determined by the government and many employers will choose to pay apprentices more than this.
How does the 2018 budget affect apprentices?
The government announced that apprenticeship fees would be halved for small businesses, which means the company would only have to pay 5% of the training costs for an apprenticeship. This will encourage more apprenticeship jobs from small businesses and is great news if you’re thinking of starting an apprenticeship next year. The budget also announced that the minimum apprenticeship wage will rise from £3.70 to £3.90 in April 2019. Win-win for those who are starting their apprenticeship search now!

Although this was announced earlier in the year, the budget confirmed that changes to the apprenticeship levy will make it easier for larger employers (those with more than 3 million on their payroll annually) to share the apprenticeship funds that they receive with other employers in their supply chain. This will enable larger companies to support others in taking on apprentices and encourage employers to take on an apprentice who may not have considered it before.
What is the apprenticeship age limit?
There is actually no formal age limit for an apprenticeship, but apprenticeships for 16 year olds who have just finished their GCSEs are the most common. The majority of apprenticeships are targeted to young adults aged 16-24. Typically there is more funding available for this age group. Adult apprenticeships are aimed at those who are over 25, but there are fewer of them due to it being more difficult to get funding from the government for these programmes.
What types of apprenticeships are available?
Apprenticeships can be found in almost every industry and for a wide range of job roles. Therefore, it’s worth reading about the different industries before making any applications so that you feel confident with your career choice.

Apprenticeships fall into four categories:

  • Intermediate Apprenticeships (level 2)

  • Advanced Apprenticeships (level 3)

  • Higher Apprenticeships (level 4)

  • Degree apprenticeships (level 5-7)
Can I do an apprenticeship if I have a degree?
Yes. However, to receive funding the employer must prove that the training is developing skills that you have not already learned at university.
What are the benefits of an apprenticeship
Benefits of carrying out an apprenticeship include:

  • Getting paid whilst learning

  • Acquire skills and knowledge that will help you gain your qualifications faster

  • You learn and improve at your own pace

  • You receive support and mentoring

  • It can set you up in a job or move onto better jobs
Do I have to pay tax and national insurance?
All employees aged over 16 must still pay tax and national insurance on their income.
What are the minimum and maximum work hours for an apprentice?
All apprentices must be offered a minimum of 16 hours of work per week but generally, most apprentices are employed full time. Your working hours are determined by your employer.

Regulations do apply to young works who are under the age of 18 years old. They must not work more than 8 hours per day or exceed 40 hours a week. Apprentices are also entitled to a 30-minute break if they work a shift for longer than four and a half hours.
Do I get holidays?
As you are an employee you will be given at least 28 days' paid holiday per year, which can include bank holiday days depending on the employer.
Can I still do an apprenticeship if I've already got a job?
Yes, if your employer agrees that you can become an apprentice where you work now.
What time of the year can I start?
You can apply at any time of the year. Starting your training just depends upon the availability of a position at the company you’re employed by.
Do I have to pay anything to become an apprentice?
No. The apprenticeship levy, which was introduced in 2017, is a tax that benefits both the employer and the apprentice. The aim behind the tax is to help employers recruit more apprentices into their businesses by being provided with additional government funding. Anything over and above the budget allocated for training and assessments will be paid for by the employer.

Note that the budget cannot be spent on anything other than the above. This means that the apprentice will need to fund their travel and some other subsidiary costs.
How long does an apprenticeship take?
The duration of an apprenticeship varies depending on prior skills levels of the apprentices and the industry sector of the apprenticeship. Generally, apprenticeships take between one and six years to complete.
What are the entry requirements to be an apprentice?
Different apprenticeships require different entry requirements. However, the main points to take into account is that:

  • You must be living in the UK

  • You must not in full-time education and;

  • You must be aged 16 or over


More Apprenticeship careers advice