Guide to becoming an apprentice
As it's National Apprenticeship Week, we've written a guide to help you discover if becoming an apprentice is right for you.
National Apprenticeship Week is coordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service. It is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy. It takes place in March.
During the week employers and apprentices from across England will come together to celebrate the success of apprenticeships whilst encouraging even more people to choose apprenticeships as a pathway to a great career.
The theme for #NAW2018 was ‘Apprenticeships Work’ with the campaign #WorksForMe. This will highlight how apprenticeships work for:
The wider economy
Throughout the week, you can normally expect to see a series of nationwide and local events.
As we’re in the heating industry that covers engineering, electricians and plumbing, we thought this would be a great opportunity to highlight what an apprenticeship is and how it could work for you. We’re proud to work with some of the UK’s most qualified electricians and our installers are the best in the industry.
Apprenticeships have been steadily increasing in popularity for a number of years and they’re now considered an equal to university. The chance to gain recognised qualifications, obtain valuable on the job training and earn a wage is attractive to many young people.
Depending on the type of apprenticeship, they can typically last between 2-3 years, with some lasting up to 6 years. The choice is vast with many different industry sectors offering apprenticeships. From construction to business, marketing to animal care, there’s a wide array of courses on offer.
Apprenticeships and what to expect
Apprenticeships combine practical training in a job with study. You can expect to:
Work alongside experienced staff
Gain job-specific skills
Earn a wage and holiday pay
Get time to study
Apprenticeships are ideal if you have a clear idea of the career you’d like to pursue, but you must be willing to commit to work and study. Unlike schools or universities, most of your learning will be done via on-the-job training at your place of work.
There are 4 levels to choose from, starting from level 2 up to level 7 and they have an equivalent educational level, so it’s easy to relate the type of apprenticeship to a qualification. Some may also give you additional qualifications such as a diploma.
Equivalent educational level
4, 5, 6 and 7
Foundation degree and above
6 and 7
Bachelor’s or Master’s degree
Throughout your apprenticeship you’ll spend at least 50% of your time on the job, learning from senior members of staff who will coach and teach you the necessary skills. The rest of the time will be spent attending college, university or training at work. This is the learning and study element that will be fitted in around your job commitments.
Apprentices also will be expected to complete assessments during and at the end of the programme. This will test both academic practice and occupational competence developed throughout employment.
Who can apply?
The number of opportunities is increasing as the government looks to hit its target of 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020. You can apply for an apprenticeship whilst still at school. You will need to be:
16 or over by the end of the summer holidays
Living in England
Not in full-time education
As an apprentice you’re entering employment, therefore, your employer must legally pay you the National Minimum Wage. If you’re aged between 16 – 24, your employer will also cover the cost of your tuition fees. However, you will not be eligible for student loans.
Is it right for me?
Apprenticeships aren’t right for everyone. Take a look at the pros and cons below:
A direct alternative to full-time higher education for those wishing to start employment.
Difficult to balance study with work commitments. You’ll need to be organised and hard working.
Earning a wage whilst completing and you won’t have to pay tuition or course fees.
Your student life experience will be limited compared to those attending full-time courses at a university.
Gain real knowledge and first-hand skills.
It’s a vocational qualification so you need to really be sure of the type of career you want.
High-level training and study can provide a long-term career path and increase your earning potential.
If you decide to leave your apprenticeship early, it’s likely you’ll be asked to pay back your tuition fees.
Your experience, transferable skills and qualifications leave you well placed to obtain employment.
Your initial wage may be low compared to other employment and you’ll still need to cover day to day expenses like rent, travel, equipment and food. Tax and National Insurance contributions will also come out of your salary.
Employing an apprentice
This can be a great way to get hands-on help in your business if you’re willing to pay a willing and eager student and, teach them the necessary skills in order for them to be successful. Undertaking apprentices is not an easy task and you must have a clear training structure and assessment framework in place. You must also find an organisation that offers training for the apprenticeship framework you’ve chosen.
Then you can check what funding is available to you as an employer. The government can help to pay for apprenticeship training. You’ll then need to advertise your apprenticeship availability and go through a selection and interview process with each candidate to secure the right one for your business. To find out more about running an apprenticeship in your company click here.
No matter which sector or apprenticeship you choose, they are the ideal way to gain on the job experience and increase your earning potential in the years to come. If you are not afraid of hard work or learning from others, then an apprenticeship could lead to a very bright future. And who knows, if you choose to embark upon an electrician apprenticeship, you could be working with and installing Rointe heating products in the near future.