A Parent's Guide to Apprenticeships

As a parent, you want your child to get the best possible start in their career. There are many options available to young people after they leave school.

Not all children want to go to college or university, and universities may not offer courses for the career that interests your child. An alternative is apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are real jobs with a salary that can negate the debt that often comes with obtaining a qualification through university.

What is an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships offer your child access to accredited training and the opportunity to develop skills and achieve a qualification whilst earning and gaining real work experience and developing business relationships, which potentially can be more advantageous than the academic qualifications offered in further education.

As a guide, apprenticeships last from 12-24 months; degree apprenticeships can be longer depending on the apprenticeship level chosen.

There are four levels of apprenticeships

Apprenticeship Level

Equivalent Qualification


Intermediate Level 2

5 GCSE's A*-C

12-18 Months

Advanced Level 3

Two A level Passes

12-24 Months

Higher Levels 4,5,6,7

Foundation Degree or above

12-24 Months

Degree Level 6,7

Bachelors / Masters Degree

2 - 4 years,*12  minimum*Masters may take longer

What type of Apprenticeships are there?

Apprenticeships are no longer solely based on manual jobs, though there are many excellent apprenticeships in the traditional trades. Employer Trailblazer groups set apprenticeship qualifications or standards across every industry and sector. There are now 600 apprenticeship standards to choose from, with more coming on stream.

The government is very keen on apprenticeships, primarily because of the link to employers. This is called "an employer-led system".

Trailblazer Apprenticeships

Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standards are set by groups of employers in common sectors who have joined together to set the standards they require for a particular occupation. They set the knowledge, skills and behaviours they expect from employees within a specific job role.

The advantage is that employers have set out the knowledge, skills, and behaviours required for specific occupations. So, if your child has met these standards through an apprenticeship with work experience, then they are on their way to a career with an employer-led and desired skill set.

What industries could my child access?

Apprenticeships are available in all sorts of industries and sectors with all types of companies; some examples are: -

Arts, Media and Publishing, Accounting, Business Administration and Law, Leisure, Travel and Tourism, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies, Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Care, Retail and Commercial Enterprise, Health, Public Services and Social Care, Construction, Planning and the Built Environment, Education and Training

Entry requirements

Employers genuinely understand that not all children are academically minded and that university is not for everyone. Many entrepreneurs and business leaders did not take a traditional educational route and value strengths in commitment, work ethic and values.

If your child has not achieved GCSE Maths and English, they can achieve a Functional Skills qualification in these subjects equivalent to a Grade C or 4, under the new grading system as part of their apprenticeship programme,


An apprentice has the same employment rights and terms and conditions, just like an employee. Additional safeguarding might be in place in particular apprenticeships, and your child's training provider and employer will work together to ensure this.

Most employers nowadays are supportive of apprenticeships. The table below shows results by The Open University for National Apprenticeship Week 2022 and highlights how positively employers view the benefits and value placed in hiring Apprentices.

96% of employers recommend employing an apprentice

 57% of employers report a high proportion of apprentices going on to management positions within the company

88% of employers think apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce

66% of employers believe that their apprenticeship programme helps them fill vacancies more quickly

The average apprenticeship completer increases business productivity by £214 per week

77% of employers believe apprenticeships make them more competitive

 59% of apprenticeship employers say training apprentices is more cost-effective than hiring skilled staff

80% of employers report that apprenticeships reduce staff turnover

Apprentices bring fresh, innovative and creative ideas into a business

51% said that those apprentices their organisation had taken on in the last five years had performed better than those who came in with a university degree.

 What do Apprentices earn?

The Apprentice National Minimum Wage is currently £4.30 an hour, but many employers pay their apprentices more than that or offer travel support and other benefits.

The Apprentice National Minimum Wage applies to all 16-18-year-old apprentices and those aged 19 and over in the first year of their apprenticeship; after the first year, those aged 19 will receive the National Minimum Wage for their age group.

How will my child learn in an Apprenticeship?

All apprentices have 20% of their time (equivalent to 1 day a week) completing off-the-job training, whether at a college, university, or an apprenticeship training provider. The 20% off the job training can work differently depending on their chosen profession and employer.

  • Once a week (day release)
  • In blocks of a week or more
  • Studying online
  • Blended (a combination of face to face and online learning)

How are Apprenticeship qualifications assessed?

Assessments are carried out by an approved independent End Point Assessment Organisation. In addition, some standards have exams set after completing a set of modules throughout the course.

They may have to demonstrate skills in the workplace, present their portfolio of work and answer some questions. They will have time to prepare for their EPA, usually a few weeks or more. Training providers provide all this information at the start of their course and help prepare for their EPA.

Finding an Apprenticeship?

Some large companies in construction, utilities, rail, banks, and retail hire groups or cohorts each year; they will advertise vacancies a year ahead.

Other companies will advertise when they are ready to expand or add new skills to their business throughout the year. They will typically select a training provider who will advertise, recruit for the role and provide the training. Training providers advertise on the National Apprenticeship Web Site, Find a Job, well-known job sites, and their own vacancy pages.

The great thing about training providers is that the vacancies will vary from companies large and small and so there is a wide range of jobs to apply for in lots of different sectors; they will also give your child advice on your career options.  

Job fairs

There are lots of job fairs this time of year. In addition, National Apprenticeship Week is running from 7th to 13th February 2022. There is lots of information on social media with the hashtag #NAW2022. We have also prepared some helpful Information for Apprentices with links to useful resources to help them search for career options and apprenticeship vacancies.

Whether your child undertakes their apprenticeship course with a training provider, college or direct with an employer, it is in everyone's interest to ensure that leavers of any age achieve their qualification and positively kickstart their career. We are here to help.

For more information about apprenticeships, feel free to get in touch with us here

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12 Feb 2022