Everything you need to know to aim high
Higher Apprenticeships work in the same way as other Apprenticeships. They involve two different kinds of training, only at a more advanced level:
1 – Work-based. You’re taught on the job, learning the specific skills you need while working for your employer and being paid.
2 – Qualifications-based. You might train at work, at college or online, completing assignments and assessed work to earn a nationally-recognised qualification and other technical certificates.
To complete an apprenticeship you’ll work at least 30 hours per week for between one and five years, depending on the apprenticeship level and the job you do.
What does a Higher Apprenticeship contain?
Like other kinds of Apprenticeship, a Higher Apprenticeship is made up of a few different parts. The exact details will vary between Apprenticeships, but you can generally expect:
a vocational qualification (or NVQ) at level four and above, depending on the apprenticeship
a knowledge-based qualification such as an HNC, HND or foundation degree
a technical certificate (such as a BTEC professional award) relevant to your particular apprenticeship
professional qualifications related to your job
A Foundation Degree does what its name might suggest: it lays the groundwork for higher level knowledge in your chosen subject. Many Foundation Degree students go on to build on that knowledge by topping up to a full Bachelors Degree with further study; some employers will even help you to do this and support you while you study through Higher Apprenticeship Sponsored Degree programmes.
Why do a Higher Apprenticeship?
If you’ve completed A Levels (or equivalent qualifications) and like the idea of further training, but you’re not sure that university is the right option for you, a Higher Apprenticeship could be a good fit. You get the academic training that students receive but you’ll also start work at the same time, picking up skills and earning a wage.
By the time uni students graduate you could have earned some professional qualifications, be debt-free and be well into your career; and there’s always the option to go to uni yourself later, if you want to.
What kind of work can I do?
As with other Apprenticeships, Higher Apprenticeships are offered by employers in all kinds of sectors. That could include engineering, technology or management, but a particularly popular option is financial services and accountancy. The Higher Apprenticeship route can offer you a path into a respected, well-paid career and set you up to take the various professional exams required to become a chartered accountant. You’ll get there in less time than a graduate would, so again, it’s one to think about if you’re not sure that university is for you and you’re ready to start work.
Not ready for a Higher Apprenticeship yet?
If you don’t quite have the qualifications or experience to begin a Higher Apprenticeship yet, an Advanced Apprenticeship, A Levels or other Level Three qualifications will help you prepare. Visit apprenticeships.gov.uk to get more info.
These are the shiny new qualifications on the block. They give you the chance to earn a full bachelors degree within the structure of an apprenticeship, which means that you get all the academic training of a uni degree and get paid at the same time; and because your employer usually takes care of the costs of your studies, you could get a degree without the fees.
Degree Apprenticeships aren’t the same as Higher Apprenticeship programmes that give you the option of going on to degree study once you finish your Apprenticeship. With a Degree Apprenticeship you’re working towards that BA or BSc right from the start, and your entire Apprenticeship is structured around it.
If you like the idea of having a degree and learning to be a critical, analytical thinker while setting off on a particular career path, Degree Apprenticeships are well worth investigating. The programme was launched in the Autumn of 2015 so new courses are being added all the time: at the moment, they include a Chartered Management qualification from BPP University and a Digital & Technology Solutions BSc from unis including Aston and Manchester Met.
You can learn more about apprenticeships near you at careermap.co.uk or visit apprenticeships.gov.uk to find out what it’s like to be an apprentice.