Everything you need to know about apprenticeships

National Apprencticeship week starts on Monday Picture: MONKEY BUSINESS IMAGES

National Apprencticeship week starts on Monday Picture: MONKEY BUSINESS IMAGES - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

National Apprenticeship Week takes place on March 4-8 each year – it is a week to celebrate the impact apprenticeships have on individuals, employers and the economy.

Faye Burrage from Easton & Otley College Picture: EASTON & OTLEY COLLEGE

Faye Burrage from Easton & Otley College Picture: EASTON & OTLEY COLLEGE - Credit: Archant

Taking on an apprentice as a business or signing up for an apprenticeship is a big step, so we have put together a guide to help you with your decision.

Offering apprenticeships

From an employer’s point of view, taking on an apprentice could seem quite daunting but it can really benefit your business, experts say.

Craig Shimmon, marketing manager at Suffolk New College, said: “Ultimately, taking on an apprentice is a great way of building your businesses.

Craig Shimmon from Suffolk New College Picture: CLAIRE CALVER

Craig Shimmon from Suffolk New College Picture: CLAIRE CALVER - Credit: Archant

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“You get to give people a job and then watch them become an integral part of your company.

“You can help people grow and develop, and with support and a bit of luck, your business will grow and develop at the same time.

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“We have an event this week where our students will be able to get advice and guidance from some local employers and our apprenticeship team – and if people want to know anything about apprenticeships, our workspace team will guide you through every single step of the way and explain all of your options.”

Faye Burrage is the director of business development and commercial at Easton and Otley College.

“By taking on an apprentice you are playing a part in nurturing young talent,” she said.

“You can support new generations in innovative ways and it’s also a cost effective way of building your business.

“We have an annual apprenticeship awards every March to celebrate exceptional achievements and these always bring forth some amazing stories.

“We’ve had career changers, assistants becoming managers, long term business partnerships and people overcoming adversity.

“It’s always a great occasion, and we can’t wait to host our awards on Wednesday.”

Applying for apprenticeships

As a parent, helping your children decide what to do when they finish high school can be tricky with so many opportunities out there.

Do you encourage them to go to sixth form or college so they can then go off to university?

Or do you motivate them to look into apprenticeships?

Whichever decision you make, it is important you have all the information beforehand, so we have teamed up with Ruth Sparkes, the editor of teen magazine Future Mag, to get all your burning questions answered.

How much will I get paid?

Minimum pay is £3.70 an hour, rising to £3.90 in April 2019, even for 19-year-olds in their first year of being an apprentice.

Many employers do pay above this – and pay should rise regularly.

Some degree apprenticeships start at £25,000 a year.

Will an apprenticeship narrow my options, and will other employers respect the qualification?

According to Ms Sparkes, employers respect apprenticeships and many companies will help you to work your way up to degree qualifications.

Or you could start a subsequent apprenticeship in a different area, or go to university as a mature student.

It’s the same as any other job – you can progress, switch or retrain.

You also learn a huge range of useful skills such as independent problem solving, teamwork, communication and so on.

Is it hard work? Difficult to get a place?

You must be prepared to put in a lot of time and effort when it comes to signing up for an apprenticeship, as you will be expected to work full time as well as study.

Competition for degree apprenticeships has been fierce, but numbers of places are growing.

Ms Sparkes added: “All employers want to see honesty, trustworthiness, commitment, accountability and adaptability – ask careers advisers how to start building up evidence to demonstrate these qualities.”

Would I still live at home?

Probably – at least until your wages rise.

The government is currently reviewing welfare benefits for apprentices and their families.

How would I learn?

An apprenticeship consists of 80% on, and 20% off the job learning.

Employers should make training relevant and timely – and you might do blocks of study, possibly on a residential placement as opposed to the traditional day per week.

Some companies will train in-house.

If you’re doing a degree apprenticeship, you’ll enrol at a university.

What if I don’t like it?

If you start an apprenticeship but realise it isn’t for you – it isn’t the end of the world, because at least you gave it a go.

Ms Sparkes said: “Good companies and training providers will offer support – if you’re not happy, speak first to your employer contact or mentor. There should be no problem switching employers and continuing with an apprenticeship – and a training provider can help.

“If you’re over halfway through your apprenticeship, it might be worth seeing it through – beware of leaving with nothing to go to.

“You have a right to use the training institution’s general careers department. You can also contact the National Careers Service, online, by phone or face to face.”

What level of apprenticeship should I take?

Most apprenticeships are intermediate or advanced (levels 2-3), equivalent to GCSEs or A-levels.

But after A-levels, options become broader – this is part of the reason why degree apprenticeships are becoming more common.

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