Apprenticeships? Not just for school leavers!
Apprenticeships having undergone a transformation. They now offer great opportunities for individuals of all ages and abilities. Here, our National Careers Service Adviser Joanne Williams gives an overview of the changes and a customer describes how an apprenticeship helped him start a new career.
Gone are the days when you could only access apprenticeships as a school leaver. There is now no upper age limit and if you are over 16, living in England, not in full time education then you are eligible to become an apprentice.
There are opportunities to find employers that are willing to take on non-traditional employees, training providers that will train you and possible funding to pay for it.
Wherever you are on your career path, an apprenticeship can make a big difference: whether you face barriers to work and now have to change direction or simply want to move forward and chase the goal you once thought was impossible.
The Government has pledged to create 3 million apprenticeships across all levels by 2020 (source: GOV.UK) so as time goes on there will be more and more opportunities.
Here are a few pointers:
What is an apprenticeship? It’s a job with training. You learn the skills on the job and may attend classroom-based training with a training provider.
What levels of apprenticeship are there? There are four levels – intermediate, advance, higher or degree – dependent on qualifications and skills. Lots more on offer than ever before.
What about funding? Without going into too much detail here… larger organisations now have to pay an apprenticeship levy. This is to encourage them to invest in training and development programmes. Smaller employers can get help with funding from the Government. They do have to pay 10% of the cost though and there is a limit to how much the Government will pay according to the sector the apprenticeship is in.
What are the benefits? Apprenticeships offer you the best of both worlds: you’ll earn a wage and get paid holidays whilst learning skills that employers need and gaining qualifications. The new degree apprenticeships offer a debt free way to get a degree!
How much will I earn? Well, apprentices under 19, and those aged 19 or over in their first year, must be paid at least the national minimum wage for apprentices (currently £3.70 per hour) but many companies pay more than this, particularly for higher level apprenticeships. At 19+, once you have completed your first year, you must be paid at least the minimum wage rate for your age.
The employer must also give you a contract of work and ensure the organisation can support you in your work and the apprenticeship role will last until you have completed your training. In other words, the job must be a real job and last the duration.
Where can I find an apprenticeship? The Government's find an apprenticeship tool is a good place to start looking for apprenticeships near you. In addition, take a look at our list of companies that hire apprentices, search company websites and recruitment sites such as Indeed and Monster. Many national companies operate recruitment cycles with application windows up to a year in advance of the start date, so it is never too early to start looking. Don’t be afraid to send speculative applications too – these show initiative and can be successful.
How can I find out more? There's loads of information about apprenticeships for both employers and potential candidates on the gov.uk website. The National Careers Service can help you find opportunities in your local area and support you with writing your application and preparing for interviews. Call us on 0800 100 900.
A mature apprentice’s story
I came to the National Careers Service for support after returning from travelling the world. Having trained as an actor and then worked in a stressful job in finance, I wanted help to explore my options.
The careers adviser discussed various routes with me including working in construction, apprenticeships and training within a trade and provided links for me to explore under my own steam. I followed their advice and gained a place on a plumbing apprenticeship with the place that they put me in touch with.
I am not sure where I would be now had I not contacted the National Careers Service. I would have possibly travelled some more and even gone back into finance. However, I have been able to take an alternative route and one that I could not have seen myself ever doing.
Originally published in December 2017.
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