How Apprenticeships Work in the Modern UK Landscape Industry Guides

How Apprenticeships Work in the Modern UK Landscape

Are you wondering how an apprenticeship in the UK works? Well, you’ve come to the right place to find out! In this article, we’ll highlight the benefits of an apprenticeship, explore the different roles, how you can start your apprenticeship search, and find the best option for you! Plus a lot more!

The Relevance of Apprenticeships in the Contemporary UK Job Market

Are you interested in a particular area of work, but don't have the right qualifications for it yet? Don’t worry! An apprenticeship in the UK might be the best option for you and is a great way to gain experience and qualifications in a new sector of work!

Apprenticeships can help you with any skill gaps that you have! For example, if you don’t have some GCSE qualifications, an intermediate level apprenticeship would be able to help you gain those qualifications, you can do this with any qualification, all the way up to a masters degree! There are a lot of apprenticeship roles that are in demand that humans cannot be replaced by AI. An example of one of these professions is healthcare. While AI has made significant advancements in various fields, including healthcare, there are several reasons why it cannot fully replace human healthcare professionals such as complex decision making, empathy, and emotional support, ethical and legal considerations.

By 2028, government funding will support the commencement of clinical training for half a million trainees, with a projected growth of over 60% by 2031. In the next five years, the number of medical training positions is set to rise by nearly 30%, nursing degree placements will see an increase of more than 30%, and GP training opportunities will expand by 25%.

Apprenticeships in the UK play a huge role in bridging the skills gap as they are a valuable way of gaining new skills, work experience, qualifications, and insight into the industry and apprenticeship role. This is also extremely beneficial to the UK economy.

Two young people doing an apprenticeship in the UK

There are apprenticeship roles available in a variety of different sectors. In fact, there are 685 Apprenticeship Standards approved for delivery in the UK. This means that apprenticeship roles will more than likely be available in the sector that you want to get into. Not only is an apprenticeship great for school leavers and job seekers looking for a career change or to upskill, but it is also valuable to an employer. Employers benefit from their apprentices receiving comprehensive training under their guidance during your on the job training and an apprenticeship provided during off the job training. This enables apprentices to gain the skills and relevant experience that employers and the industry need, contributing positively to the economy.

Statistics from the page show that over 200,000 apprenticeships (for 16+ year olds) started in August/January in 2023/2024! This shows how many apprenticeship opportunities there are across the UK. Another interesting statistic is that 90% of people stay employed after their apprenticeship ends and 78% of apprentices were satisfied with their apprenticeship. Employers invest a lot of time in training apprentices, so when you finish your apprenticeship, providing you’re a hard working individual, you will likely get employed in that job. However, if you don’t want to stay with them you are more than entitled to refuse their employment offer and find a different employer.

By opting for an apprenticeship in the UK, you will be able to gain the skills that you require for your dream job! Curious about the diverse range of apprenticeship roles awaiting you? Explore the possibilities with options such as: Business Admin, Digital Marketing, IT, Engineering, Sales, Management, Customer Service, Science, Armed Forces, Healthcare, Childcare, Hospitality, Teaching, and so many more!

The Modern Apprenticeship Framework

Apprenticeship Standards were formally known as Apprenticeship Frameworks. These have been reformed and Apprenticeship Standards are constructed of a lot of different parts, these include: clear industry-designed standards, outlining the knowledge, skills, and behaviours apprentices need to demonstrate to succeed in their chosen field. Additionally, apprenticeship standards incorporate rigorous assessment methods, ensuring apprentices are thoroughly evaluated and prepared for the demands of their profession.

Pathways, qualifications, eligibility, information, responsibility, related knowledge, assessment, and duration are all crucial aspects of apprenticeship roles. These are all important for both the apprentice and the employer, as it keeps everything on track and shows where an apprentice might need extra help. There are a lot of different responsibilities that everyone has during an apprenticeship.

The Apprentice

The apprentice has the responsibility to do the work that is set for them within deadlines, being punctual at work, and doing the job to the best of their ability. Attending off the job training, letting both your training provider and work know when you are not able to attend, and communicating with your employer and trainer about any feedback or help that you need.

The Employer

The employer's responsibilities include: focusing more on occupational training. This could include shadowing their line manager, suggesting courses that the apprentice can undertake to further their knowledge, and attending meetings with the training provider to feedback on the apprentices progress. Employers will also support the apprentice to build skills, knowledge, and behaviours that they need to learn to competently do the job expected of them.

Employer shaking apprentice's hand

The Training Provider

Every apprenticeship in the UK needs a training provider, as they will teach the apprentice all the skills and knowledge they need. The training provider is not only used for training but looking after your wellbeing and making sure that the apprentice is well supported throughout the programme.

The training provider will support the employer throughout the apprenticeship and answer any queries that they might have. By working alongside the employer, the provider will make sure that the apprentice is performing well in the workplace and check in to see if the apprentice requires any additional support.

The End-Point Assessment Organisation

The End-Point Assessment Organisation is an important part of qualifying for your apprenticeship in the UK. It is constructed in different sections and depending on the apprenticeship role they can all be different tasks that you are assigned. The most typical sections of an EPA are: a practical assessment, an interview, a project/portfolio, written/multiple choice tests, and a presentation. Before the assessment the apprentice should know who their EPAO is, have completed mock assessments beforehand so you are more prepared, and prepare for the assessment through reviews with your training provider.

Apprenticeships are very popular for people that are leaving school and college, and there are many variants of apprenticeships, such as: intermediate, advanced, higher, and degree apprenticeships. However, there is no upper age limit for an apprenticeship and some graduates and career changers opt for this route to make a career change!

Apprenticeship Levels and Progression

These apprenticeship types are made for people with different skill types, for example an advanced apprenticeship will give you an A-level qualification when you have completed training, whereas a degree apprenticeship, when completed, will give you a bachelor's or a master's degree.

You can achieve so many different qualifications in an apprenticeship, depending on what level of apprenticeship you are completing. For example if you do not want to go to university to get a degree but you need it for the job that you want, there are degree apprenticeships available! The employer will pay for you to get trained for that degree and you’ll even earn a salary. Earning and learning sounds good, right?

The other apprenticeship levels include:

  • Intermediate, where you will achieve a level 2 qualification (GCSE)
  • Advanced, where you will achieve a level 3 qualification (A-level)
  • Higher, where you can achieve a level 4,5,6, and 7 depending on what apprenticeship you are on (foundation degree and above)
  • Finally a degree apprenticeship, where you can achieve a level 6 and 7 (bachelor's or master's degree)

Even though you are doing one level of an apprenticeship, it doesn't mean that you can't progress and further your skills and education by moving onto a higher level after your apprenticeship. Obviously if an apprentice doesn't want to partake in a further qualification or further education they don't have to! But if you do want to, here is an example: if you are taking an intermediate apprenticeship, you can progress and then take on an advanced apprenticeship earning a level 3 qualification. After your apprenticeship is finished you could get promoted with your current company, go into a higher or degree apprenticeship or even move employers.

Start your apprenticeship search

Apprentices can leave an apprenticeship at the end of the programme and go into other forms of education and training. For example, you can go to university if you want to, just because you have had an apprenticeship doesn't mean you cannot access university! Take into consideration that if you have done a degree apprenticeship, you won’t be able to do a Bachelor’s degree via the traditional university route, in the subject you’re qualified in already.

For someone who wants to get into an apprenticeship, here is some advice on how you can choose the right level for you: first have a look at the description of the apprenticeship, what are the requirements and do you have any skills that they are asking for? Some apprenticeships that are a higher level will require certain qualifications, for example GCSE and A-level qualifications, you also need to not be in full time education. Entry requirements vary depending on the employer, so always have a look at the requirements when going to apply for an apprenticeship or job. Even if you don’t have the specified grades, some employers and universities will look at prior experiences to make up for this!

UCAS are planning to tag apprenticeships to UCAS points in the future, which will make apprenticeships a good way for people to get ready for going to university and set them on the track to going to university.

Apprenticeship Funding and Financial Considerations

Funding for apprenticeships in the UK is done via the apprenticeship levy. This is a tax on larger employers with an annual payroll above a threshold of £3 million per year. Employers with a payroll below this threshold are not required to pay the apprenticeship levy. Instead, they may access government funding to support the costs of apprenticeship training and assessment. Regardless of whether you are a levy payer or not, you will still need to fund the apprentices salary.

For employers that are using a levy, you have access to see how much of the levy fund you have used and how much is left for you. Although the levy fund can be used for a lot of things, MBA's are not funded by the levy. As an organisation, you will get the benefit of a well trained employee, that has the skills and knowledge to contribute well to your company/business, and by the end of the apprenticeship they will know how to operate in their job for you!

Apprenticeship funding, money and tree concept

For the apprentice, the financial benefits that surround apprenticeships are that you don't have to pay to learn new skills or qualifications, you get to earn while you learn! The wages that an apprentice would get is the minimum of £6.40 an hour (April 2024), but depending on the company you can get paid more than this! Don’t forget that you are also entitled to the National Minimum Wage for your age range in the second year of your apprenticeship if you are 19 years old+. Read more about the salary for apprenticeships in the UK.

Some expenses that an apprentice might cost an employer is more equipment, for example if it is a hybrid working job, employers should provide a laptop for working at home. Whereas for an apprentice some costs you should be mindful of is the travel, your lunch, and your living costs.

Technology in Apprenticeships

Technology is starting to become a big part of apprenticeships, as you can be trained and take classes online by a number of different training companies that are located nationwide, this provides apprentices access to some of the best training. With the rise of technology, it is easier to access certain tools and gain help from your trainers and company. Many organisation use learning platforms such as Bud, OneFile and Blackboard. This makes it easier to showcase your work to employers, for example if you are going for a design or IT apprenticeship or job, you can make a digital portfolio to showcase your skills!

Technology also allows people to have access to more tools and to get taught things faster, for example if someone wants to learn or understand a certain thing, they can always search it up on Google or watch a video on it that someone has made on YouTube. Some tools that can be used during an apprenticeship can be Zoom Classroom, Bud (a software where apprentices are set work to do by their training provider and have a schedule, it also keeps track of your progress).

Apprentices can receive extra support if they need it, usually you would take a skills test before the start of your apprenticeship so that your training provider can understand if you need extra support and how to best teach you.

Additionally, technology is ever-evolving and with that comes new apprenticeship roles. For example, the Level 7 Artificial Intelligence & Data Higher Apprenticeship which is now approved for delivery. There is also new apprenticeships in the UK which are being developed such as Machine Learning.

The Role of Employers in Apprenticeships

Employers play a crucial role in apprenticeships, as the employer is the one that the apprentice is working for. They will be giving the apprentice a job and helping the apprentice learn new skills and develop an understanding of the workplace and type of job they are doing. The employers are also important to an apprentice because they give them support and help overcome challenges of apprenticeship roles. Some benefits employers can gain from an apprenticeship is gaining another employee, you know that the new employee is trained in the skills and knowledge that you need for your company, you could learn something new from the apprentice while they are learing too from a new perspective and you will have more diversity in your company.

The way employers can help support apprentices include:

  • Checking in on the apprentice,
  • Providing a supportive and inclusive environment where the apprentices ideas are valued
  • Providing feedback to support the apprentice to improve
  • Organising a schedule with them to make settling into the organisation easier,
  • Letting them know what support system you can offer and possible contacts (can be an email of someone with the training of safeguarding) for things like mental health and other things,
  • Creating a personal development plan
Personal development plan

Employers can recruit an apprentice if they want to expand their team, one of the easier ways of obtaining an apprentice is going through an apprenticeship job board like Careermap, apprenticeship agencies and training providers that are available, for example Apprentify. Training providers will also train the apprentice if they get offered the job by you. After an apprenticeship is over you have a choice in whether you want to offer the apprentice a permanent job in your company/business or you can let the apprentice go and let them find a different job somewhere else.

Industry Specific Insights

Diversity is a well known factor of apprenticeships. There are many different types of apprenticeships available across the UK, for example there are apprenticeships in companies such as: NHS, Army, Network Rail, Volkswagen, Aldi, and so many more. Most likely one of the employers that you want to work for has apprenticeship roles available, so it is always worth a look! There are also a diverse amount of roles for apprenticeships, including: business, animal care, healthcare, engineering, finance, digital, childcare, customer service, hair and beauty, hospitality, manufacturing, sales, sport, teaching, and so many more!

Big companies will usually have structured on-the-job training, whereas in a smaller companies, usually you would get a diverse range of exposure to the apprenticeship. Some apprenticeships that you go into can have different work settings, which can include hybrid roles, on-site roles, and online roles. With hybrid roles, this opens up the opportunity to work both at home and at the workplace, whereas with on-site roles, you will be solely working in the workplace. Then with online working, you will be fully working at home, which can be beneficial for some people, as you can avoid the cost of transport and being late for work, but depending on the person, different types of roles would be more suited to them.

The way apprenticeships work is that when you get offered the job/apprenticeship after the interview you talk to the training company and the employer that hired you , and go through the contract, your commitments and your job role there in more detail. After that you will then agree on when your apprenticeship days will be for training, and then start your job with the support of both your trainer and employer. If you have any questions you can ask either of them!

As an apprentice once you have taken part and completed your apprenticeship, you gain opportunities to get into another job in that field that you might want at a different company, if you want to, you can also have the option to take a higher level apprenticeship.

For employers, you will possibly develop some new skills and the apprentice can also help the companies productivity and seeing things from a new perspective! Some of the challenges that an employer could face is time. You will be required to train the apprentice so they can competently do their role as well as having regular meetings with the apprenticeship provider. This can be especially if they are a small business. An apprentice could find some challenges such as balancing work and learning, financial circumstances, and their lack of experience. It also might be hard for an apprentice depending on the type of role that they get into. For example, if they work at home all the time, depending on the persons circumstances, they might struggle with learining what to do, how to manage their time or stay motivated, or if they work in person all the time they might find the financial side to this hard.

Apprenticeship roles in engineering

Apprenticeship Application Process

You can start your apprenticeship search via the Careermap Apprenticeship Job Board. We have tons of apprenticeship roles available in a variety of industries! When searching for the right apprenticeship for you, use the filters and look at some of the requirements you might need before applying. For Small to Medium sized (SMEs) employers, you will most likely need a CV to apply for these apprenticeships in the UK, so if you don't have a CV yet, you should make one! Also depending on the job it might be a good idea to make a portfolio of your work and achievements, so you can show your potential to the employer. There are some applications typically with Blue chip employers' application process. This means larger employers. Their application proccess is longer and consist of the application form, online tests, assessment center, and interviews (these can be in person or online).

Once you get an interview, you will need to wear smart clothing and research the company so that you know more about them, as they might ask you questions about the organisation to ensure you’ve done your research. You should also prepare a couple of questions to ask them at the end of the interview and rehearse your answers to some common apprenticeship interview questions, for example: tell me about yourself, what is your biggest weakness, what would your friends describe you as, and why should we hire you?

There are different types of interviews inducing: face to face, zoom/online interviews, video interviews, a panel interview, and a stage interview (where there are multiple stages to the interview). Some interviews can be split into three parts, however more are likely to be in either one or two parts depending on the job role you are applying for.

Challenges and Solutions

Some common challenges and barriers that apprentices and employers face when starting or taking on an apprentice are that an apprenticeship could be new to both the apprentice and the employer. This means collaboration is key to ensure the apprentice is supported to balance work, training on the job and off the job which is required during apprenticeships in the UK. Some meetings with the training provider will include the employer, so that both the employer and the apprentice knows what they need to do and it also gives them both a chance to ask any questions.

Apprentices will have to adapt to the new environment and learn the job that they have been accepted into, whilst also remembering to attend training and classroom session. This requires the apprentice to be organised and keep a good schedule! Some ways to help with these barriers and challenges is to keep track of all of the work that needs to be done, also keeping track of meetings and training in your calendar so you know what you need to do that day. Padlet is a great tool to keep on top of your tasks! Employers can provide support and also ask the apprentice questions in regard to any additional support they require, how the programme is going, if they are enjoying their role and when their training days are so that they can also keep a schedule. A Personal Development Plan should also be put in place to ensure the apprentice is meeting their goals and objectives.

Current developments in the apprenticeship landscape are that UCAS are working on making apprenticeships qualify for UCAS points! UCAS are also going to expand their apprenticeship search on their website so more of them will be available. There has also been an increase in job opportunities in artificial intelligence and science and technology!

Person in VR headset

Degree apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular, as your degree is paid for, and you will not get into any student debt like going to university, but you will also gain the degree qualifications needed for your dream job! This is an amazing opportunity for people, especially during this difficult time of cost of living.

Another trend is that more apprenticeship roles are becoming hybrid, which means that you can work in the office some days and other days you can work from home! This opens up flexibility and it also saves people money on transport. Apprenticeships in the UK have increased by 2.5% in 2023/24 according to recent statistics, which shows apprenticeship roles are becoming more popular for people to participate in. Some factors that are influencing changes in apprenticeships are that employers are more focused on experience, skills and achievements than on the qualifications that you receive.

Additionally, Apprenticeships in the UK were historically just for trades have really expanded their offerings. This will allow more people to have access to starting jobs that they thought they never would be able to do, as they didn’t go to uni! For example, did you know you can now become a doctor via an apprenticeship or an AI apprentice? Pretty cool, right?

The Apprenticeship search is becoming more accessible to everyone in the UK, and as they are becoming more popular this is increasing the amount of jobs and people that are getting employed. Also, as you leave school you will be shown your options of A Levels, University, T Levels or going into an apprenticeship.

If you are someone that is looking to get into a new job or career type, or someone who wants to learn while you earn, an apprenticeship role could be your best decision! As you have read, you can earn qualifications and get on the job experience, all while getting paid, which is very beneficial for your future!

Some useful organizations that could help you learn more about apprenticeship roles, helping you get accepted into a role, and develop skills and knowledge to get into an apprenticeship include:

  • The Prince’s Trust ( they can help develop skills for future jobs and also help you with developing your job searching skills!),
  • NCS ( they help young people grow and develop their skills and this can be done from online or in person ),
  • National Career Service ( they are part of the government and provide help for finding a career, developing skills and career progression),
  • Your school/college career department could help you too
  • Careermap (provide resources, tips, and available jobs/apprenticeships for you to apply for),
  • Movement to Work ( they help employers deliver opportunities to young people, and have different opportunities available on their website, they also have events).

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