Want to earn as you learn? An apprenticeship is a paid job that provides practical, hands-on experience combined with ‘off the job’ learning
Before you start an apprenticeship you’ll need to be in (or have an offer of) suitable employment.
A health & safety risk assessment will be carried out on your employer before you start, to ensure you are being placed in a healthy and safe environment.
When you start your employer will give you a contract of employment and the College will provide you with a training plan.
What levels of apprenticeship are available?
There are three levels of apprenticeships available for those aged 16 and over, dependent on the level and responsibility of the job role.
These involve the development and assessment of skills and knowledge at Level 2 (relevant to the occupational sector or job role), and as defined by the Apprenticeship Standard. Achievement of a Level 2 apprenticeship may allow progression to Level 3. To start a Level 2 apprenticeship, you should ideally have 5 GCSEs (grade E/grade 2 or above).
These involve the development and assessment of skills and knowledge at Level 3 (relevant to the occupational sector or job role), and as defined by the Apprenticeship Standard. Achievement of a Level 3 apprenticeship may allow progression onto a higher or degree apprenticeship. To start a Level 3 apprenticeship, you should ideally have five good GCSEs (grade C/grade 4 or above) or have completed a Level 2 apprenticeship.
These involve the development and assessment of skills and knowledge at Level 4 or above (relevant to the occupational sector or job role), and as defined by the Apprenticeship Standard. Higher apprenticeships at Level 4 and 5 can allow progression on to university degrees, and degree apprenticeships are also now becoming available in most sectors. To start a higher or degree apprenticeship, you should ideally have a relevant Level 3 vocational qualification, three good A Levels or have completed a relevant Level 3 apprenticeship.
These are standards that have been developed by employer groups representing every sector of the economy. They specify the skills, knowledge and behaviours required for an apprentice to become competent in a wide range of specific occupations, at all levels.
The range of skills and competencies that you need to practise and acquire in order to do the job to a specified standard. These skills are largely acquired and practised in the workplace and the College will allocate an assessor who has the relevant industry experience and background to carry out formal or informal assessment of your skills and provide you with feedback.
The Standard will define the knowledge and understanding you will need to acquire and apply to carry out your role effectively and become occupationally competent.
The Standard will define the behaviours that you will need to demonstrate to become occupationally competent. This may include good attendance and punctuality, good communication, problem solving, customer service skills, etc.
All Standards require you to achieve qualifications in English and maths prior to the end of your apprenticeship, and these will normally be Functional Skills qualifications.
Apprentices without prior qualifications in English and maths at Level 2 (e.g. GCSEs at grade C/grade 4 or above) will be required to study these subjects as part of their apprenticeship.
English and maths Functional Skills are practical, applied literacy and numeracy qualifications, relevant to both young people and adult learners. They will help you to develop and apply important skills such as communication, analytical and presentational skills.
Functional Skills are assessed by examination and normally require you to attend the college or online, for half a day each week, per subject, until such time as you have passed. Regular test windows are available throughout the academic year.
Each Standard has a detailed assessment plan that sets out how you are going to be assessed against each of the above elements of your apprenticeship.
Some Standards may require the achievement of formal and recognised qualifications as part of the Standard. Others may require you to pass formal skills and knowledge assessments at certain points in your apprenticeship before you can move on to the next stage, and are known as gateway assessments.
The range and type of assessment methods vary significantly, but all Standards will contain an End Point Assessment. This takes place at the end of the apprenticeship and is designed to assess the apprentice against all elements of the apprenticeship, including skills, knowledge and behaviours. The End Point Assessment is carried out by an independent End Point Assessment Organisation, and is usually spread out over a number of days. You will need to pass the End Point Assessment in order to become a fully qualified apprentice.
The assessment methods employed to assess you throughout and/or at the end of your apprenticeship could include one or more of the following:
- Presentations and assignments
- Written, online or practical tests or assessments
- Interview, viva or professional discussion.
How long is an apprenticeship?
The minimum length of an apprenticeship is 12 months, but some will be designed to last two, three or four years. This will depend on the Apprenticeship Standard being followed, the level of apprenticeship, the specific occupational area/sector and your prior skill levels and achievements.
Finding an Employer
Once you’ve chosen an industry and think an apprenticeship might be for you, you’ll need to find an employer. There are a few ways to get one.
1. Approach them directly
Contact a local employer to see if they would like to take you on as an apprentice. Try to find out a bit about the company first by visiting their website and preparing what you want to say. Act professionally and show enthusiasm and interest in their business.
2. Look out for adverts
Some companies advertise apprenticeship vacancies. This could be in local press, national press, at job fairs, through recruitment agencies or online through sites such as:
3. Call us!
Many businesses contact HLNSC to find them a suitable apprentice. Get in touch on 0800 032 1986 and we can advise you on the next steps like sending us your CV and possible interviews.
4. Ask your current employer (if you have one)
They might consider taking you on as an apprentice. If they need to find out more, direct them to the National Apprenticeship Service website.