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What is an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are school leaver schemes which have been designed for 16-18 year olds. They cover a wide-range of industries, including accounting, banking, law and IT, construction, trades, childcare, education and many more. Apprenticeships combine full-time work in an industry, with studying for nationally certified qualifications. Apprentices benefit from on-the-job training, and the academic training which is needed to gain the relevant qualifications. These schemes offer a pathway for school leavers towards higher education, or a means into a career. All apprentices are also paid a salary for the duration of their scheme.

Levels of Apprenticeships

Intermediate (Level 2) Apprenticeships

The intermediate apprenticeship is the first level of the modern apprenticeship. These schemes are aimed at 16-year-olds, and can last anywhere between 12–18 months.

Entry Requirements

For level two apprenticeships, employers look for applicants with two or more GCSEs (A*-C). There are some employers who accept applicants without sufficient grades, if they have relevant work experience, or have shown a passion for the scheme. Furthermore, traineeships have been developed as an alternative route into level two apprenticeships. Traineeships are designed for students who have left school without the skills or qualifications they need to apply for an apprenticeship. These schemes focus on improving a student’s numeracy and literacy skills and can last up to six months.

What Qualifications Will I Receive?

Intermediate apprentices work towards…

  • a Level 2 Competence Qualification
  • a knowledge-based qualification (such as a National Vocational Qualification or a BTEC)

(These qualifications equate to 5 GCSE passes and will make you eligible for an advanced apprenticeship!)

Advanced (Level 3) Apprenticeships

Advanced apprenticeships, also called level 3 apprenticeships, are the next level of apprenticeship available to school and college leavers. Advanced level apprenticeships last between 12-18 months, in which the apprentice receives on-the-job training from an employer, and works for widely-respected qualifications on the side.

Entry Requirements

Employers look for applicants with 5 GCSEs (A*-C), or an intermediate apprenticeship in a relevant field.

What Qualifications Will I Receive?

On top of 12-18 months of cracking work experience, and a salary, advanced apprentices receive…

  • a Level 3 Competence qualification
  • and a knowledge based qualification

These qualifications are equivalent to 2 A levels and will qualify you for a higher apprenticeship!

Higher (Level 4/5) Apprenticeships

Higher apprenticeships, also referred to as level 4 or level 5 apprenticeships, are designed for school leavers aged 18 or above. These programmes focus on imparting management-based skills, as well as the practical skills which are required to work in a particular field. These types of apprenticeships can last anywhere between three to four years. The academic modules are usually spent in a further or higher education institution; the rest of a higher apprentice’s time is spent working for a company.

Entry Requirements

All applicants for higher apprenticeships must 18 years old or older. Employers look for candidates with two or more A levels, or an advanced level apprenticeship.   What Qualifications Will I Receive?  If you complete a higher apprenticeship, you will be awarded with…

  • Level 4 Competence Qualification
  • knowledge based certificate – such as a higher national diploma, a foundation degree or undergraduate degree.

Level 6 (Degree) Apprenticeships

Degree Apprenticeships combine working with an employer and university, in a great opportunity where you’ll earn a salary, get work experience and finish the apprenticeship with a degree – which you won’t have to pay a penny for!

On a degree apprenticeship, you’ll spend 20% of your working week studying towards a qualification at university. You’ll either study at university, online or an assessor might come to see you in the workplace.

A Level 6 apprenticeship will usually last at least 2 and a half years, meaning this responsibility will continue to increase throughout. Don’t be put off by this! You’ll have support from your manager or workplace mentor to make sure you’re not overwhelmed.

Most Level 6 apprenticeships will require five GCSEs at 9-4 (or A*-C on the old grading scale), including English and Maths. You’ll also need Level 3 qualifications, such as A-Levels, NVQs, a BTEC or a Level 3 (Advanced) apprenticeship. But, if you think you don’t have the qualifications to complete the programme, fear not! If you have experience in your chosen industry a lot of employers will be more relaxed in terms of which qualifications, you need.


Useful Links


Local Links

NHS apprenticeships | NHS Health Careers