Apprenticeships explained

Apprenticeships enable you to learn practical skills and gain a qualification, while also earning a wage. They take between one and four years to complete and are open to anyone over 16 years old who is not in full-time education. You receive pay for time spent working and studying.

What is an apprenticeship?

Don’t assume you’re too old to do an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships for over 25s are increasingly common and it might be the perfect way for you to change career.

An apprenticeship combines practical ‘on the job’ training with study towards a work-based qualification. Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16 not in full-time education. They take between one and four years to complete and you receive pay for time spent working and studying.

Apprentice wages

One of the biggest benefits of an apprenticeship is that you earn a wage while you work and study. There is a minimum wage for all young people on apprenticeships, but this depends upon your age and how long you’ve been doing the apprenticeship.

  • Apprentices aged 16-18 and those aged 19 in their first year earn at least a minimum wage of £3.40 per hour.
  • Apprentices aged 19 or over who have completed their first year earn at least the minimum wage appropriate for their age.

Remember, the minimum wage is the lowest amount you’ll receive – some employers may choose to pay more than this.

Apprenticeship benefits

Apprentices receive the same benefits as everyone else in the workplace – at least 20 days paid holiday a year, sick pay entitlement and other benefits such as statutory maternity pay and paternity leave.

Another big benefit is that at the end of their qualification apprentices will have achieved a work-based qualification which might lead to further employment.

Research has shown that your earnings increase in line with the level of qualifications you have.

Apprentices can study at different levels. In England, these can be equivalent to GCSEs, A levels or even a Foundation Degree.

Compared to someone without any qualifications you could earn:

  • 20% more if you had a work-based qualification equivalent to GCSEs or Standard Grades
  • 35% more if you had a work-based qualification equivalent to A levels or Highers
  • 65% more if you had the equivalent to a Higher Education Degree

(Source: ONS, 2011)

Where to find out more

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