FEATURE: Learn career skills as an apprentice

An apprenticeship offers young people the chance to learn skills necessary for various careers while earning at the same time.

An apprenticeship will often suit young people who do not want to go into full-time further or higher education, but still want to gain extra qualifications that are work related.
There are more than 190 different occupations in which you can train through an apprenticeship, from animal care to building trades, from administration to catering.
Most apprenticeships work towards nationally-recognised qualifications called NVQs and you will often also gain BTEC or City & Guilds qualifications.
There are three levels of Apprenticeship:

  • Intermediate (Entry Level)
  • Advanced (Supervisor Level) and
  • Higher (Manager Level)

Intermediate level apprenticeships are usually completed in under a year, but the time it takes will depend on your existing knowledge and skills, and the type of apprenticeship you are doing.
Where you will learn depends on the organisation employing you.
Sometimes you will spend four days with the employer and attend college for one day a week; sometimes you may do “block release” where, for example, you may attend college for two or three week “blocks”.
For a level 2 apprenticeship you may, though not always, need some GCSE subjects at grades A-C.
For a level 3 programme (called an Advanced Apprenticeship) you will normally need five GCSEs, often including English, Science and Mathematics, or have already completed a level 2.
The entry qualifications are generally set by the employer.
How long it takes to complete an apprenticeship will vary according to the employer, the type of occupation you are training for and the level of apprenticeship, but Apprenticeships normally take between one and four years.
The length of time taken to complete your training will also depend on your own skills and ability.
There is no single rate of pay for an apprentice. It will depend on your employer and your job role, but from October 2015 the national minimum wage rate for apprentices (aged 16 to 18, and those aged 19 or over in their first year) increased from £2.73 to £3.30 per hour.
However, some employers pay more than the minimum and the average weekly pay is now about £200.
If you are aged 19 or over and have completed the first 12 months of your apprenticeship, you will be entitled to the national minimum wage rate (currently £6.70 per hour).
To find out more about apprenticeships, go to the Government website at www.gov.uk.

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