Apprenticeships in the UK are a fantastic option for many people to gain valuable training, qualifications and work experience in a specific career. It used to be the case that apprenticeships were only usually considered by school leavers who wanted to enter into a vocational career in the trades straight away, without continuing into further education, but apprenticeships now are very different!
There are various different types of apprenticeships in the UK and it’s possible to do one at any age or stage of career, gaining the benefit of receiving training and qualifications that can potentially go up to an equivalent Master’s degree level. Some employers offer apprenticeships to help upskill existing staff and they are also offered to those just starting out after leaving education or wanting a career change.
The training, qualifications and assessments involved with an apprenticeship come at no cost to the apprentice. This, along with being paid for working and studying on a full-time basis throughout the duration, means that apprenticeships are a great way to earn as you learn and gain lots of valuable experience at the same time.
This article might help if you’re currently choosing between university or an apprenticeship.
How apprenticeships work across the UK
There are some differences between how apprenticeships work in different parts of the UK, as England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each have separate national agencies responsible for apprenticeships in their areas.
Apprenticeships in Scotland
Apprenticeships in Scotland are known as ‘Modern Apprenticeships’ there and can be started from the age of 15. Different frameworks are used to England, Wales and Northern Ireland and there are four levels of apprenticeship available, which are:
Apprenticeships in Wales
Apprenticeships in Wales use the same qualifications as England and Northern Ireland, but a different framework is used and it’s possible to study in either English or Welsh, from the age of 16.
Apprenticeships in Northern Ireland
Apprentices in Northern Ireland also use the same qualifications system as England and Wales and start from the age of 16. There are entry requirements for apprenticeships in Northern Ireland which depend on the type of apprenticeship being applied for.
Apprenticeships in England
In England, the different levels of apprenticeship, which can be started by people aged 16 or over, are:
- Intermediate (Level 2) – equivalent to GCSE
- Advanced (Level 3) – equivalent to A-level
- Higher (Levels 4,5,6 and 7) – equivalent to a foundation degree and above
- Degree (Levels 6 and 7) – equivalent to a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree
Some apprenticeships in England may offer additional diploma qualifications. You can find out more information about becoming an apprentice in England here.
The types of careers you can do apprenticeships in
There are now hundreds of options enabling you to enter a wide range of professions via the apprenticeship route.
Whether you want to work with children, animals or in nature, in media or marketing, in business, admin or education, there are options available. For those with an interest in sectors such as engineering, manufacturing, transport, health or public services, IT, hospitality, hair and beauty, textiles and fashion or hospitality and catering, there is an apprenticeship to suit.
For those who wish to receive training, qualifications and work experience in one of the more traditional trades, such as in plumbing or as a heating engineer, there are lots of apprenticeship opportunities across the country with a wide range of employers. This could provide a great start to a new career that means you earn a wage whilst training and gaining the qualifications you need to progress once the apprenticeship is complete. An example of
Where to find apprenticeships in the UK
You can find a list of apprenticeships in the UK on whichever national website applies in your area.
You can look for apprenticeship opportunities in England on the Gov.uk website. If you live elsewhere in the UK, you can search for apprenticeships near you in:
The level of apprenticeship that you can apply for will depend on your existing qualifications. Once you have found an apprenticeship that you’re interested in, you can apply online with the employer directly using the various portals above. You can often also find apprenticeships advertised on local job sites as well as the government portals.
At the HomeServe Foundation, we want to help employers and apprentices benefit from our extensive experience in employing and training apprentices over many years. Find out more about us.