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All about apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are work-based learning programmes which are built around a real job, with hands-on experience, a salary and the chance for learners to gain a nationally recognised qualification whilst developing new skills, behaviours and knowledge needed for the workplace. Apprentices must be employed with a contract of employment and paid holiday leave.

As an apprentice you will:

  • work alongside experienced staff
  • gain job-specific skills
  • earn a wage and get holiday pay
  • get time for study related to your role (equivalent to one day a week)

Apprenticeships can take between 1 and 5 years to complete depending on their level.

There is a national minimum wage for apprentices, but many employers pay more than this. This is dependent on the sector, region and apprenticeship level.

You can read more about the apprenticeship minimum wage here.


Levels of apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are offered form Level 2 to Level 7 and each Level has an equivalent educational level.

Framework Equivalent Level = Equivalent education level
Intermediate Level 2 = GCSE
Advanced Level 3 = A level
Higher Levels 4, 5, 6 and 7 = Foundation degree and above
Degree Levels 6 and 7 = Bachelor's or master's degree

Some apprenticeships may also give you additional qualifications which are taken as part of the on program learning of the apprenticeship, such as a diploma.

End-point assessment

At the end of your apprenticeship you’ll need to take an end-point assessment (EPA) to complete the program.

This EPA is an independent assessment to confirm that you have attained the knowledge, skills and behaviours required in the Apprenticeship Standard you are taking.   Sometimes it can be helpful to compare this to a driving test, where an independent assessor checks that you can actually perform the duties you have trained for in the workplace.

Each EPA has at least two assessment methods – it can include an observation of the apprentice in the workplace, written tests, portfolios of work and interviews.

Find out more about end-point assessment.


Who can apply

You can apply for an apprenticeship while you’re still at school. To start one, you’ll need to be:

  • 16 or over by the end of the summer holidays
  • living in England
  • not in full-time education

How to apply

At any one time there are between 12,000 – 20,000 apprenticeship vacancies available online in a variety of careers and industries across England.

There are 3 steps to applying for an apprenticeship:

1. Search for an apprenticeship.

2. Sign in or create an account.

3. Complete and submit your application.

The National Careers Service has advice on writing applications and what to do at interviews.

Apprenticeship process

During your apprenticeship your training provider and employer will help you to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviour in accordance with the apprenticeship standard.

Find out more