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Apprenticeships – Learn while you earn

Published: Friday 31st March 2017

Apprentice being taught how to codeWe’re a bit late to the party since National Apprenticeship Week was in early March, but we wanted to take a fresh look at apprenticeships in 2017.

Apprenticeships are rightly billed as ‘learn while you earn’. And given how university tuition fees continue to rise, a debt-free education is one of the reasons apprenticeships are more popular than ever in 2017.

But apprenticeships are also a national priority as a way to address the skills shortage. A government pledge to create 3 million apprentices by 2020 shows that times continue to change for apprenticeships. Not only growing in number overall, the demographics – and perception of apprenticeships – are changing. For example, people aged 25 and over accounted for 44% (224,100) of apprenticeship starts in 2015/16, while people aged 19-24 accounted for 30% (153,860) and under 19s 26% (131,420).

As in previous years, the majority of apprenticeship starts were in the service sectors. Almost three quarters (71%) of all starts were concentrated in three sectors: Business, Administration & Law; Health, Public Services & Care and Retail & Commercial Enterprise.

So while most apprenticeships are in the service sector, statistics do show that this sector differs from say engineering apprenticeships in that far fewer hours are spent in off-the-job training (by a difference of 10:1 in terms of hours of training). Other stats of note are that there has been a significant rise in apprenticeships taken up by people aged over 25. There has also been a rise of management apprenticeships – it’s now the third most popular apprenticeship subject, and these are the top apprenticeships for the over 25s. There is, however, some concern that management apprenticeships are used to up-skill existing employees, rather than take on new talent.

Life As An Apprentice

As an apprentice you’ll work in a company as an employee, earning a wage and working alongside experienced staff to gain job-specific skills. You’ll also go to college, usually on a day-release basis, to receive training. Ultimately you’ll work towards nationally recognised qualifications while being paid to do so.

So how do I become an Apprentice?

Apprenticeships are open to all age groups above 16 years-old, whether you are just leaving school, have been working for years or are seeking to start a new career. You need to be living in England and not taking part in full-time education. There are of course entry requirements, and competition for places is strong. There are different levels so you can work your way up the qualifications ladder bit by bit.

Apprenticeships take from 1 to 4 years to complete, depending on their level. There are three levels, and each takes a year or so. The average pay rate is around £170 week. You can expect to study at least one day of your working week. Training is delivered by a training provider rather than your employer. Working hours are 30 a week minimum.

How do I find apprenticeships?

The official government ‘Find an apprenticeship’ site is findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk/.

Also, target companies you like or are near to – many large companies have apprenticeship schemes, like Mercedes Benz UK.

Finally, you need to go no further than this site, since Zoek jobs carry a growing range of new apprenticeship jobs or schemes throughout the UK.

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