We answer 7 of your most searched questions on apprenticeships | NCFE

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We answer 7 of your most searched questions on apprenticeships

Suzanne Slater Suzanne Slater Director of Operations – Apprenticeships, NCFE

From age limits, to funding, to confusion around potential pathways to university – from the outside, apprenticeships may seem as though they’re one of the more complex learning pathways to understand. But we promise, they’re not!  

Here, I answer 7 of the most searched questions on the internet to provide answers and clarity around your burning questions relating to apprenticeships. My hope is to demonstrate not only how straightforward – but how beneficial – they can be for learners. 

1. What apprenticeships are there?  

There are apprenticeships available for job roles across an incredibly wide range of different industries – some of which you may never have considered!  

As well as more well-known sectors such as health, early years and social care, you can also take apprenticeships to specialise in law, administration, manufacturing, financial services, hospitality, IT, cyber security, energy, education, creative industries, data and transportation. 

If you’re interested in learning more about an individual apprenticeship and its key areas of focus, you should look at the apprenticeship standard.  

In a nutshell, an apprenticeship standard is essentially the job role that the apprentice will be training for and outlines the knowledge, skills and behaviours that will be learned to help you succeed within that role. You can visit my recent blog exploring what apprenticeship standards are to find out more. 

It’s also important to note that there are four different types of apprenticeships: intermediate, advanced, higher, and degree. Our handy graphic below outlines the equivalent level of qualifications. 

Grid explaining different type of apprenticeships

2. Is it ever too late to apply for an apprenticeship?  

It’s a common myth that apprenticeships are only available to those aged between 16-25. This isn’t true – apprenticeships are available to anyone aged 16 and over, and there is no upper age limit! In fact, recent research by the Centre for Vocational Education Research showed that individuals over 25 years of age account for 40% of all apprenticeships, and that they’re more strongly represented among those starting higher or degree apprenticeships.  

If you’re looking to develop your skills or are looking to begin working in a different field, then an apprenticeship might be the perfect route for you. My colleague Andrew Barton recently wrote about the many benefits of continued learning, and how you’re never too old to learn something new. 

3. How are apprenticeships funded?  

There are two ways an apprenticeship can be funded, which we’ve detailed below: 

Option one: The apprenticeship levy. This is where an employer who has over a £3 million pay bill is taxed – this tax can only be used for apprenticeship training. 

Option two: Where the apprenticeship training is government funded and the employer may be required to pay a contribution. 

This decision as to how the apprenticeship is funded is dependent upon the size of the company and its pay bill, and this can sometimes be taken by the employer themselves. The apprentice would have no influence regarding the structure of how their apprenticeship is funded. 

The employer is responsible for paying the apprentice’s wage. To find out more information on apprentice pay, the UK national minimum wage and whether you're able to earn above the minimum wage, visit this helpful guide by Success at School 

4. Can apprenticeships lead to university?  

Yes! You can apply for a university course after undertaking an apprenticeship – however, this can depend on the individual university's entry requirements for specific courses.  

Generally speaking, you’ll find that universities are appreciative of all learning backgrounds and routes into higher education, which many people aren’t always aware of. There are also opportunities to attend university throughout the duration of apprenticeships. 

To find out more information about university entry requirements for particular courses, your best bet is to visit the UCAS website for further guidance. 

5. Where are apprenticeships advertised?  

Apprenticeships are advertised in a number of different places – so if you’re looking for the perfect apprenticeship for you, you’ll need to know where to look! It’s best to search for available apprenticeships on training provider websites directly, but you can also look for advertised apprenticeships on popular job search sites such as Indeed.  

The Government also provide the following guidance when it comes to things to consider when researching apprenticeship vacancies: 

  • Read the job description and job advert to see what experience the apprenticeship will offer  
  • Research the training provider/college that will be offering the classroom-based learning, such as reviewing their Ofsted rating 
  • Research the employee benefits   
  • Speak to the employer, training provider or college about how 20% off-the-job training will be delivered as employers take different approaches. 

6. Who regulates apprenticeships?  

Ofsted reports all inspections to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), which is the main organisation that regulates apprenticeships. The ESFA are accountable for funding education and skills for children, young people and adults. You can learn more about the ESFA and their role of regulating apprenticeships here. 

7. Are apprenticeships worth it?  

Yes – absolutely! Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to get on-the-job training and experience to prepare you for the working world, and they can be life-changing for those who choose to follow this route. In our recent #FutureOfApprenticeships live show series in partnership with FE News, our very own Accreditation Apprentice here at NCFE, John Joe Tams, joined us to share his journey so far. 

When asked if choosing an apprenticeship has been a good path for him, John-Joe said: “I think the apprenticeship is the best thing I ever did, because it’s given me so many professional skills and the opportunity to continue learning academically, but at the same time, it’s also given me a lot of skills in my personal life.”   

To hear more from John Joe about his lived experience as an apprentice at NCFE, you can catch up on the full episode here. 

Ready to find out more about apprenticeships? Visit our apprenticeship homepage to learn more about our offering, or you can check out our National Apprenticeship Week page for a series of handy resources, case studies and further guidance. 

Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to get on-the-job training and experience to prepare you for the working world, and they can be life-changing for those who choose to follow this route.

Suzanne Slater, Director of Operations for Apprenticeships at NCFE
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