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Sep 14

Is an Apprenticeship Right For You?

Reading Time: 5 mins

Apprenticeships haven’t always been popular, but they’re growing in popularity again. Fewer people are opting for traditional higher education routes, like university, and turning to apprenticeships as another option instead.

The growth in available apprenticeships is particularly welcome in such an unstable job market. Apprenticeships provide support, income, and a more secure working future. They let you earn while you learn – and you also build a valuable network of potential future employers, too. This benefit is suited both to young people straight out of school who want to throw themselves into work, as well as older people looking for a change of career but need a guaranteed income while they study and train.

What is an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships offer hands-on training

An apprenticeship is a job where you study alongside real life work. You gain hands-on experience and study towards a formal qualification, whilst being paid a basic wage. Almost anyone can work as an apprentice. As long as you’re 16 or older, and not already in full-time education, you can apply. You don’t need any previous experience, either.

The length of apprenticeships vary, depending on the qualification level and industry, but can be anywhere between 1 and 5 years. Most employers keep their apprentices on after completion, too. But even if they don’t, you’re now fully qualified with the relevant skills and training to find work elsewhere.

As an Apprentice you are:

  • An employee earning a wage and getting holiday pay
  • Working alongside experienced staff to further your learning
  • Gaining job-specific skills
  • Getting paid for training and study related to your role

Your employer has to give you time off to study for your formal exams, too. They’re under scrutiny as you are: an employer has to provide a certain level of training, which means you’re guaranteed to learn essential skills for the job.

The Government and Apprenticeship Schemes

Back in July, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a new bonus the Government is implementing to encourage employers to hire apprentices. The scheme launched at the beginning of August and will run until 31st January 2021. During this time, employers receive a cash bonus for every new apprentice they hire. Those aged between 16 and 24 earn the employer a £2,000 bonus, while those aged 25 and over earn them £1,500. The Plan for Jobs document states that this bonus for employers is in addition to the existing £1,000 businesses receive for taking on apprentices aged 16 – 18. Meaning some employers could receive up to £3,000 for hiring!

The Government want employers to continue to hire during this difficult economic turn. Young people in particular are facing challenging times with extremely high unemployment rates and a lack of entry level jobs. Ideally, this apprenticeship incentive scheme will open up more opportunities as well as support businesses.

Rishi Sunak backed his scheme: “We know apprenticeships work. 91% stay in work or go on to further training.” Hoping that the more people who can start apprenticeships now, will have greater job security in the long-term.

Why opt for an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are a great opportunity for people to establish themselves in the world of work quickly. They come with plenty of benefits that mean they could be the right option for you.

  • Structured training programmes – Apprenticeships give you a chance to work towards a qualification and earn at the same time.
  • Earning potential and career growth – Getting into employment earlier means there’s more potential for you to progress quicker. Generally, you’ll be able to begin earning a good salary earlier in life and still gain a qualification without having to worry about the cost of higher education.
  • Gain a qualification – Although you’re working, you’re still studying for a qualification. There are plenty of types available including HNCs, HNDs, and foundation or honours degrees.
  • Earn whilst you learn – The key selling point for apprenticeships is your ability to earn before you’re fully trained and qualified. There’s also no student loans or tuition fees to need to worry about.
  • Industry experience – Apprenticeships give you great experience in the working world. Hands-on training allows you the chance to practice your skills and gain confidence in the job and a working environment.
  • Plenty of choice – With hundreds of types of apprenticeships in a whole host of industries, there’s plenty to choose from and something for everyone. Check out some of the variety you can find in apprenticeships here.

How Much Does an Apprenticeship Pay?

Apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage, time for training and studying, plus holiday pay and other employee rights.

The current rates for all National Minimum and Living Wage brackets can be found here.

  • 16 – 18 year olds – National Minimum Wage on the apprentice rate is £4.15
  • Aged 19+ and in your first year of an apprenticeship – National Minimum Wage on the apprentice rate is £4.15
  • Aged 19+ and completed your first year – Normal National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage, depending on your age bracket.

Employers are legally required to pay the minimum, but many choose to pay higher if they wish, especially further on in your apprenticeship.

Time that apprentices are paid for includes:

  • Normal working hours
  • Training that’s part of your apprenticeship
  • Study towards English and maths qualifications, if they’re a necessary part of your apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships for Adults and Career Switches

Apprenticeships for older people are available

There’s a misleading illusion that apprenticeships are only for teenagers and young adults looking to make their first steps in the working world. This is not the case at all – there’s no age limit to studying for an apprenticeship and they’re open for anyone. Apprenticeships can be particularly useful to people considering a career change, or looking to further their current employment.

Adult apprenticeships have the benefit of opening up more possibilities to progress your career aspirations and develop yourself as an individual. Some adult apprenticeships are also able to offer funding to help pay for childcare and travel throughout your training course. During your apprenticeship you’ll still receive associated benefits such as salary, holiday, and healthcare as well.

It’s also worthwhile checking whether you’re eligible for the Advanced Learner Loan scheme. Your eligibility for this loan doesn’t depend on your income and there are no credit checks.You can apply for the funding to help with the costs of a course at college or training provider in England. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all have their own funding.

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