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Q&As

Here are a range of questions and answers regarding Apprenticeships.

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General

What is an Apprenticeship?

When you start work as an apprentice you are in a real job.

An Apprenticeship is a real job with training so you can earn while you learn and pick up some nationally recognised qualifications as you go. Apprenticeships take between one and four years to complete and cover 1500 job roles in a wide range of industries, from things like engineering to finance advice, veterinary nursing to accountancy.

Key benefits:

  • Earning a salary
  • Training in the skills employers want
  • Excellent progression opportunities, whether looking to study further or climb the ranks within the workplace
  • Increased future earning potential. Apprentices enjoy marked salary increases when they complete their training
  • Better long term salary prospects (those with an Advanced Apprenticeship earn around £117,000** more than those without, over the course of their career)
  • Learning at a pace suited to the individual with the support of a mentor
  • Paid holiday

**Returns to Intermediate and low level qualifications (September 2011). 

How do I find out about Apprenticeship opportunities?

The National Apprenticeship Service also runs Apprenticeships vacancies. This is an online system whereby employers and learning providers can advertise and manage vacancies, and potential apprentices can search, apply and then manage their applications for Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships opportunities anywhere in England.

The system is free and available on the Apprenticeships website at: www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

How can I get started?

Think about where a qualification could take you in your career - decide on the kind of skills and knowledge that you will need to get ahead. If you are already employed, you may want to talk to your employer or a colleague to help you with this.

If you would like to speak about Apprenticeships with a career adviser face to face or on the phone contact the National Careers Service by visiting www.nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk or calling 0800 100 900.

Please note for those aged under 18 face-to-face contact is not available but a telephone and web service is offered.

What types of Apprenticeships are there?

There are three types of Apprenticeship you can apply for depending on your current skills and qualifications:

  • Intermediate Apprenticeship (level 2)
  • Advanced Apprenticeship (level 3)
  • Higher Apprenticeship (level 4 or above)

The core components for Intermediate and Advanced Apprenticeships are:

  • A nationally recognised vocational qualification
  • Functional skills, (e.g. Literacy, numeracy and ICT)
  • A technical certificate such as a BTEC or City & Guilds (relevant to your specific Apprenticeship)
  • Other professional qualifications or requirements as specified by the particular job

The core components for Higher Apprenticeships are:

  • A nationally recognised vocational qualification
  • A technical certificate such as BTEC or City & Guilds (relevant to your specific Apprenticeship)
  • Other professional qualifications or requirements as specified by the particular job.
If I change employers, do I have to restart my Apprenticeship?

No – You can continue on the same Apprenticeship programme. If you are aged 19 and over and change employers after you have completed your first year, you will also be able to receive the national minimum wage.

I have a degree - Can a university graduate do an Apprenticeship?

Yes - You can do an Apprenticeship but you will not be eligible for funding. That means your employer would have to pay your training costs.

How is learning done through an Apprenticeship?

An Apprenticeship is essentially a set of qualifications called a ‘framework’ developed by Sector Skills Councils. Most Apprenticeship frameworks follow a standard format that comprises:

  • A National Vocational Qualification (e.g. Level 2 for Intermediate Level Apprenticeships, Level 3 for Advanced Level Apprenticeships).
  • Knowledge based qualification
  • Transferable Skills

The learning provider provides the knowledge and develops skills while the employer provides the practical experience to put those skills to the test. Training can be classroom based, in a workshop or in a workplace, depending on the subject and on the learning provider.

Career Benefits

What are the advantages of an Apprenticeship?

Getting qualified while on the job can also mean:

  • you work better and more effectively
  • it can set you up to move into new and better jobs
  • you get better pay
  • you get to experience new and different challenges
  • your existing skills and knowledge are recognised and can help you gain a qualification faster
  • you learn at your own pace and get support when you need it
  • better job security
  • you gain skills and knowledge which can be used across a range of jobs and industries.
Will an Apprenticeship give me a good career?

Career progression is excellent for apprentices, and over the course of their careers, those with an Apprenticeship earn, on average, £100,000 more than those without.
[A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Apprenticeships and Other Vocational Qualifications, University of Sheffield, 2007]

Some Apprenticeships already attract UCAS points or allow you to study for a Technical Certificate. Once the Apprenticeship has finished there’s the opportunity to carry on working, maybe get promoted or go on to higher education in a college or university.

The National Apprenticeship Service is working with UCAS to extend this system so that more qualifications gained during an Apprenticeship count towards an individual’s university application.

Training and Employment

I’m an apprentice and have just been made redundant. What do I do now?

If you have been made redundant you should contact your training provider who will be able to give you assistance and advice on what happens next.

Do I have to pay National Insurance?

Yes. As is the case of all employees aged over 16, apprentices must still pay tax and national insurance on their income.

Do I get paid?

Yes, all employed apprentices will get a wage. The current 'apprentice National Minimum Wage' is currently £2.68 per hour*.

Apprenticeship National Minimum Wage rate does not apply to Higher Apprenticeships.  

However, as skills develop, many employers tend to increase wages – in fact, research has found that apprentices earn an average of £200 net pay per week.

The apprentice 'National Minimum Wage' applies to all 16 to 18 year olds and to those aged 19 and over in the first year of their Apprenticeship. If you reach age 19 and have completed the first year of your Apprenticeship your employer must pay you at least the 'full National Minimum Wage' rate for those aged 18 to 20.

If you are already 19 and have completed the first year of your Apprenticeship you must be paid at least the 'National Minimum Wage' rate for your age. For more information on the 'National Minimum Wage', please see the 'National Minimum Wage' Q&As below.

* Please note that wage rates for roles within the Agricultural sector may differ from the minimum wage stated above.

Can I join a trade union as an apprentice?
Yes. Most employed apprentices are entitled to join a trade union. To find out which trade union is relevant to your workplace, go to www.worksmart.org.uk/unionfinder.
What does it involve?

An Apprenticeship includes the following components:

  • A knowledge based element.
  • A competence based element.
  • Skills (English, Maths, and ICT if relevant to the job role)
  • A module on employment rights and responsibilities
  • A module on Personal Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS)
What time of year can I start?

You can apply at any time of year. When you begin the work-based training depends upon the availability of a position at an employer.

I’ve already got a job – can I still do an Apprenticeship?

Yes. If your employer agrees, you can become an apprentice where you work now.

How long does it take?

The length of an Apprenticeship varies depending on prior skills levels of the apprentice, the qualification being obtained and industry sector. Generally, Apprenticeships take between one and four years to complete.

Is there an upper age limit for Apprenticeships?

No. Apprenticeships are open to all age groups above 16years-old whether you are just leaving school,  seeking to start a new career or are moving into a new role with your existing employer that requires new skills.. You just need to be a resident in England and not taking part in full-time education.

What’s the role of the employer?

The employer will give you an induction into the company and your role. They provide on-the-job training and pay your wages. Each apprentice has a manager at work who will be responsible for helping you throughout your training.

Do I get holidays?

Like most other employees, you will be given at least 20 days’ paid holiday per year as well as bank holidays.

What’s involved in the selection process?

The selection process is just like any other job application process. Individuals are put through a series of interviews, and in some cases, tests, to establish if they are the right fit for the role.

What is a Framework?

There are a number of elements to each Apprenticeship and this is called the Framework. This means you will get a range of qualifications as you progress through your training and education. Each Apprenticeship framework has three main strands:

  • A competence based element
  • A technical element
  • A skills element

The three strands are sometimes accompanied by additional qualifications to give the most relevant skills and knowledge required for the job that you are employed in.

 

What are my employment rights as an apprentice?
Most apprentices are employed and therefore have the same rights as other employees. To find out more about your rights as an apprentice go to www.worksmart.org.uk.
Can apprentices claim additional benefits (such as childcare)?
Yes. In some limited cases, apprentices can claim additional benefits. You can find out more on benefit claims at www.dwp.gov.uk.
What are transferable skills?

Many different industry sectors share the same skill sets. These core skills are transferable across sectors and are built into the Apprenticeship to maximise flexibility and choice for employers and apprentices. They include:

  • English (GCSE English Language but not GCSE English Literature)
  • Mathematics
  • Information and Communication Technology (if relevant to the job role)

These are achieved by having the right grade GCSE* or by undertaking a Functional Skills qualification.

*International GCSEs and Short Course GCSEs are also acceptable.

Do I have to pay anything to become an apprentice?

The National Apprenticeship Service will pay the costs of your training depending on your age, with any remaining costs met by the employer if you are aged 23 or under. 

Age

National Apprenticeship Service contribution

16 -18

up to 100%

19 - 23

up to 50%

24 +

A contribution to the cost of the
training if the apprentice is aged 24 or older.

What are the entry requirements of an Apprenticeship?

Different Apprenticeships have different entry requirements. However the most important requirements are that:

  • You must be living in England and not taking part in full-time education.
  • You must be aged 16 or over.
  • If you took your GCSEs more than five years ago and didn’t gain a top grade (A or A*), or you don’t have good GCSE grades in Maths and English you will need to take a literacy and numeracy test.
Are apprentices eligible for maternity leave?

Yes. Like all employees, apprentices are entitled to statutory Maternity Leave of 52 weeks with statutory Maternity Pay for up to 39 weeks.

Do I get to choose where to work?

Accepting a job offer from an employer for an apprenticeship post will be your decision. You will need to apply for apprenticeship vacancies and go through the employers’ recruitment process and be successful in your application to be offered a position.

Apprenticeship vacancies - General

Access our candidate support guide

Our online support guide for Candidates provides step by step help to get the most out of Apprenticeship vacancies. Use the link to access these now.

Access the online support guide »

You can also access our guide How to write a winning Apprenticeship application or view the film How to apply for an Apprenticeship, which provides a step by step guide on Apprenticeship applications and offers advice to help you through the selection process.

Will the vacancies posted have to be real jobs with training?

Yes – employers and providers cannot post vacancies that are not linked to a real post.

How do I find out about Apprenticeships vacancies?

There is an online jobsite for Apprenticeships where you can find up to 20,000 vacancies. You can search through vacancies either at Apprenticeship vacancies or by using the new Av Search app for iPhone and Android, which allows users to create an account, log information and set up preferences, such as vacancy location, job role and salary, before searching.

Once the right job comes up, simply register on Apprenticeship vacancies via the website and follow the step by step instructions to apply for the role.

Watch our “How to apply” film at apprentice.tv for hints and tips on applying

Apprenticeship vacancies - Search

Can I search for Apprenticeships by sector?
Yes. You can search for your ideal job in various ways, by using keywords, sector type, job role or location parameters. Your search can be refined further by determining how current the vacancy is, or by indicating the weekly wage you would be looking for.

When I search it says there are no vacancies currently found. Why is this?

If you are searching for something very specific, or only looking in a small area, it may be that there is no exact match. Try extending your search area or using a more general keyword instead. New vacancies are added every day so try please keep re-visiting the site.

Can you let me know when a vacancy that might suit me is added?
Yes. If you register you can set up a favourite saved search to find what you are interested in and then be alerted by email or text when there are new search results.
I got some search results but I can’t see the details. Why is this?
The details will be displayed as soon as you register – just fill in and submit the short registration form and click the link in the email you get back to activate your account. You can then log in at any time to search, see the details of all the vacancies and apply for those that interest you.
I've got some search results which are shown as 'Higher Apprenticeships', what are they?

Higher Apprenticeships are Apprenticeshis that work towards a Level 4 work-based learning qualification, and in some cases, a knowledge-based qualification such as a foundation degree.

Apprenticeship vacancies - Registration

I have received the 'activate your account' email but the link does not work?

If the link is not highlighted then you should copy and paste the entire link into your internet browser and click on the go button, or appropriate arrow.

Why can’t I register using the school email account?

It is important that the personal details you enter on the system are kept secure and can only be accessed by you. You need to have your own email address as well as your own unique username and password to keep your details safe.

Can I register with any personal email address?

You can register with any valid email address that you use but remember – this is the email address that will appear on any job applications you send, so it must be suitable. Anything that causes offence will be removed. If you have more than one email address it is important to remember which one you have used to register. You will need it if you forget your username or password – these details can only be sent to your registered email address.

Why can’t I register a username I use on other systems? It says it is not available.

Your username has to be unique. If someone else has already registered that username on the system you won’t be able to use it. Try another one – it must be between 8 and 20 characters long. You can use letters and numbers but not spaces. When you have found the one that you will use remember to make a note of it!

What are Personal Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS)?

The apprentice must learn and demonstrate the following skills:

  • Independant enquiry
  • Creative thinking
  • Reflective learning
  • Team working
  • Self management
  • Effective participation

Apprenticeship vacancies - Login

I don’t know if my account is activated or not. What should I do?

First try logging in using your username and password. If your account is activated you will log in successfully. If that doesn’t work, your account may not be activated. If you still have the email with the activation link, try clicking it again. If you don’t have the email you can request another one using the link on the login page. Make sure that the email has not gone into your spam/junk mail folder.

If you continue to have difficulties with activating your account email nationalhelpdesk@apprenticeships.gov.uk and they will activate the account for you.

I’ve forgotten both my username and password. What can I do?

If you can remember either one or the other you can use the links on the login page to get help. If you have forgotten both you will need to send an email to nationalhelpdesk@apprenticeships.gov.uk. If possible, use the email address you used to register or tell us what it was.

Explain the problem and make sure that you include your full name, your date of birth and your postcode. The Helpdesk will find your username and send it in an email to the address you used to register. You will then be able to use the link on the login page to get a temporary password.

My username and password are correct but I can't login, why?

If you are sure that your username and password are correct but can't login, it will be because you have been de-registered from the system in-line with data protection requirements.

If you are a candidate, it may also be because the system has identified that you have not logged in to the system for a period of 12 months since you registered. In addition, if you have not activated your registration within 30 days of recieving your activation email, this will cause you to be de-registered. All personal details are removed.

If you wish to use the system again, please re-register.

National Minimum Wage (NMW)

Why is on- and off-the-job training included in the definition of hours for the Apprenticeship NMW?

An Apprenticeship is a package of work and on and off the job training. It is right that apprentices are paid for all the time they are on the Apprenticeship. That includes training time.

The hourly rate is too low. Why? When will it be increased?

The rate is set to be consistent with current arrangements in parts of the UK. The Low Pay Commission has recommended a rate that is fair to apprentices and does not discourage employers from offering Apprenticeships. The Government has accepted the rate recommended. The rate is a minimum, employers can pay more – and many do so.

The NMW rates are reviewed each year by the Low Pay Commission.

Can any benefits-in-kind, such as tips, accommodation, meals, or childcare vouchers, count towards the statutory minimum wage for apprentices?

In-kind benefits such as meals, tips and childcare vouchers will not count towards the apprentice NMW.

What is the Apprentice National Minimum Wage rate?

The National Minimum Wage rate per hour depends on your age and whether you’re an apprentice - you must be at least school leaving age to get it. To find out more visit National Minimum Wage rates on GOV.UK

I am 19 and been on my Apprenticeship for over a year. What NMW rate should I be paid?

If you are already 19 or over and have completed the first year of your Apprenticeship you must be paid at least the NMW rate for your age.

Will I be entitled to the apprentice minimum rate for the entire length of my Apprenticeship?

Not necessarily. The apprentice NMW applies to all 16 to 18 year olds and to those aged 19 and over in the first year of their Apprenticeship.

If you reach age 19 and have completed the first year of your Apprenticeship your employer must pay you at least the full NMW rate for those aged 18 to 20.

If you are already 19 and have completed the first year of your Apprenticeship you must be paid at least the NMW rate for your age.

The Apprentices National Minimum Wage does not apply if you are a Higher Apprentice.

I am not employed, do I get the rate? Why are non-employed apprentices excluded?

The NMW only applies to employees who are paid. Those on Government funded programmes who are unwaged are not entitled to the NMW or the apprentice minimum wage.

Is my evening class/study in the evening counted towards the hours for which the NMW is paid?

Yes if it is study as part of your Apprenticeship.

I have a query regarding my rate of pay who should I speak to?
If you have a query regarding your salary then it is suggested that you should contact your employer, if you are having difficulty contacting your employer or would like further clarification then please speak to your training provider, HM Revenue and Customs, or contact the Pay and Work Rights Helpline.
Who does it apply to?

The apprentice NMW applies to all new and existing apprentices aged 16 to 18 and those aged 19 or over in the first year of their Apprenticeship.

The change does not affect those apprentices aged 19 or over who have already completed a year of their Apprenticeship – they will continue to be entitled to be paid at least at the full NMW rate appropriate to their age.

Apprentices are those on a contract of Apprenticeship or those on a Government funded Apprenticeship. If you are not in one of these categories your employers must pay you at least the minimum wage appropriate to your age.

I earn more than £2.68 an hour, will my wages be cut?

There is no reason for your employer to cut your pay. It is a minimum below which you should not be paid – it is not a standard rate, nor rate for all Apprenticeships.

Why has the previous weekly minimum (£95 per week) been replaced by an hourly minimum rate? (England only)

The NMW is based on hourly rates. The Government has accepted the Low Pay Commission’s recommendation of a minimum hourly rate. This will mean a simpler single system for employers.

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