‘Apprenticeship’ is a word that has become commonplace in the media over the past few years, and especially during the recent general election campaigns. As the country struggles to come to terms with the end of recession there has been a new-found interest apprenticeships born from a determination to improve job prospects, reduce levels of unemployment and mitigate the potential impact of future financial crises.
But what exactly is an apprenticeship? Unless you have made specific enquiries as either an employer or an apprentice, you will probably have a fairly rudimentary understanding of what they are all about.
Here we will talk you through some of the key factors surrounding this topical issue that should help to give you a better grasp of what the purpose of an apprenticeship is as well as what you can expect should you decide to undertake one.
What is an apprenticeship?
The Apprenticeship scheme is an education and skills development programme created by the government and administered by a number of higher educational institutions. The idea is that they create a middle ground between academic education and practical working skills by combining study with a practical work placement. They are most common in industries with a high level of practical skill requirements.
There are 3 main levels of apprenticeship which allow you to gain an official qualification as you develop essential skills for your industry. There are 3 main tiers of apprenticeship, each carrying a different level of qualification;
- Intermediate – equivalent to 5 GCSE passes
- Advanced – equivalent to 2 A level passes
- Higher – can lead to NVQ Level 4 and above, or a foundation degree
What sets apprenticeships apart from other similar training schemes is that, as well as resulting in a valuable qualification, you will be paid for the work that you do. Having said that, the amount that you will be paid is not very substantial in the first year but rises to the standard minimum wage thereafter. So;
- If you are aged 16 to 18 you will be paid £2.73 per hour
- If you are aged over 19 you will be paid £2.73per hour in your first year, and the national minimum wage thereafter.
Apprenticeships are almost exclusively full-time programmes with your week divided into 30 hours on-the-job training and 7.5 hours study. You are entitled to be paid for both your practical experience and classroom based training. You are also entitled to 20 days paid holiday per annum including statutory holidays.
If you want to know a bit more about apprenticeships then you might like to take a look at some of the info over on the apprenticeship section of the .GOV website.