What are apprenticeships and how are they delivered?

Apprenticeships combine paid work with day-release study at a local college. The employer provides the practical, hands-on training within the workplace and college staff provide the theoretical background and knowledge that are required to develop skills and gain recognised qualifications.

What levels of apprenticeship are available?

Apprenticeships are offered at varying levels, from level 1 up to level 6. Students with poor to average GCSE results usually take level 1 apprenticeship but those with average to good GCSE results will take a level 2 apprenticeship. Both start from the basics of knowledge for a particular employment sector and build practical skills up gradually. They usually last for two years. Most traditional trades train level 2 apprentices, so that employers can teach the practical skills that apprentices won’t have had the chance to develop at school.

Apprentices who succeed on a level 2 apprenticeship are often given the chance to move on to a level 3 apprenticeship after two years. However, if you have excellent GCSE results, you might be able to start a level 3 apprenticeship, without taking a level 2 apprenticeship, depending on the employment sector. Level 3 apprenticeships give you qualifications that are equivalent to A levels. If you work for a large enough employer in the right employment sector, they will often encourage their successful level 3 apprentices to move on to apprenticeships at level 4 (a Higher Apprenticeship) or levels 4 to 6 (a Degree Apprenticeship, which earns you a university degree, as well as developing a very high practical skill set).

How do I find an apprenticeship?

70% of employers in Kent are small businesses that employ fewer than five members of staff and many of these employers are self-employed trades people. Lots of them train level 2 apprentices and family connections are often the best way to make contact and get taken on.

Medium-sized and large employers will usually advertise their apprenticeship opportunities on the government’s Apprenticeship website, through which you can make applications directly to employers. You will need to register and create an account but you can then be sent alerts when apprenticeships that match your employment sector and geographical search area are advertised. You can access the government website here.

How much are apprentices paid?

As employers receive government funding (via the Apprenticeship Levy) to provide apprenticeships, pay rates are fixed centrally in accordance with the National Minimum Wage. Apprentices are paid employees, so they must expect to be working five days per week, with a minimum of 20 days of holiday per year. You can find out how much you will be paid for different levels of apprenticeship here.