What are apprenticeship benefits? (Plus eligibility)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 16 November 2022

Published 27 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Enrolling in an apprenticeship programme helps you gain confidence and skills for a particular career or trade, starting your career in a way that many consider cost-efficient and effective. If you're unsure about your options for higher education, mindful of financial factors and eager to start full-time employment, an apprenticeship may be a viable solution. There are many factors to consider when choosing your next step, and knowing the benefits of an apprenticeship can help you decide if it's the right fit for you. In this article, we explain what an apprenticeship is, various apprenticeship benefits and how they work.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a paid job where the employer provides an opportunity for the employee to learn as they work. Participating employers and organisations provide training and ample opportunities for apprentices to learn relevant skills, ensuring that at least 20% of their employee's time focuses on completing a training course alongside their daily tasks. As an apprentice, you may:

  • earn a wage and receive holiday pay

  • work alongside experienced staff members

  • gain job-specific skills

  • receive time for training and studying

  • complete many of the daily tasks expected of an employee in your position

Related: What Is An Internship?

What are some apprenticeship benefits?

Apprenticeship benefits vary depending on the course you're undertaking and the area it focuses on. Many students prefer the hands-on learning experiences most apprenticeships provide rather than the classroom learning of traditional higher education. Some of the benefits of an apprenticeship include:

Route to career

One significant benefit of enrolling in an apprenticeship is that it can provide a direct pathway to starting your preferred career. During an apprenticeship, you work alongside an active workplace and learn directly from the business owner or other experienced professionals. You may also get the chance to meet other individuals at conventions. Apprenticeships can therefore provide valuable networking opportunities, opening up future career possibilities. Many businesses also hire their apprentices full-time upon completion of their course, and many other businesses specifically look for apprenticeship graduates. This is particularly true for graduates of practical-based apprenticeships in trades such as:

  • construction

  • plumbing

  • carpentry

  • engineering

  • transportation

Related: All you need to know about apprenticeship vs. university

Workplace experience

Apprenticeships, by their very nature, provide vital working experiences. An apprenticeship involves working onsite in the field you've chosen, working alongside actual employees as they carry out their daily tasks. This experience not only allows you to gain work experience as you learn, it also provides you with an opportunity to evaluate the job and decide if it's a good fit for you.

Instead of sitting in a classroom all day, an apprenticeship may give you quick access to a worksite, allowing you to apply your knowledge and use your skills in the real world. This learning-as-you-work technique can also boost your confidence as you quickly transition from learning to performing your skills. It also gives you the ability to complete assessments in a real-world environment rather than in the theoretical environment of a classroom.

One-on-one learning

As an apprentice, you may work directly under one or more professionals who can supervise and teach you throughout your course. You may also work alongside other apprentices, completing the same course together. Typically, only a handful of apprentices work together, providing more opportunities for one-on-one learning. Instead of being one of many students in a classroom, where you may never have one-on-one contact with your teacher, as an apprentice, you regularly learn directly from individuals and engage in a dialogue with them.

This chance to learn directly, being taught at a pace that suits you and being able to ask questions freely may give you more confidence. It can also significantly improve your knowledge and skill level, helping you learn quicker and at a more in-depth level than you may achieve in a classroom setting.

Earn qualifications

Another benefit of doing an apprenticeship is that they often lead to the completion of a formal qualification. Depending on the level of your apprenticeship, you obtain different a level of qualification. It's even possible to earn a qualification that's comparable to a bachelor's degree through an apprenticeship. Each apprenticeship course has different entry requirements, so it's important to consider what level of apprenticeship you might qualify for and what you're looking for from the programme. Below is a brief explanation of each level of apprenticeship available and the comparable level of qualification you may earn:

  • Level 2/Intermediate: This is the equivalent of a GCSE.

  • Level 3/Advanced: This is the equivalent of an A-level.

  • Level 4, 5, 6 and 7/Higher: This is the equivalent of a foundation degree and above.

  • Level 6 and 7/Degree: This is the equivalent of a bachelor's or master's degree.

Related: Q&A: what is an intermediate apprenticeship?

Customised courses

Apprenticeships are courses created and designed by professionals within your chosen industry. Many students feel that some of the skills they develop in traditional education aren't the most useful or applicable, which makes learning those skills less interesting and exciting. Undertaking an apprenticeship means completing a course provided by employers, learning the specific skills required to complete the job. If you feel similarly and want to learn skills that can be directly applied to your career and future job, choosing an apprenticeship may be a good fit for you.

Earn while you work

As an apprentice, you're entitled to many of the same benefits as a full-time employee. While you learn the skills provided in your course, you're also entitled to a salary. Employers can effectively pay apprentices as much as they choose, but there are set minimum wages depending on the apprentice's age and experience level. Here's how much you could earn as you learn:

  • Aged 16 to 18: The current national minimum wage for apprentices in this group is £4.81 per hour.

  • Aged 19 or over and in your first year: The current national minimum wage for apprentices in this group is also £4.81 per hour.

  • Aged 19 or over and have completed your first year: The current national minimum wage for apprentices in this group correlates to the general national minimum wage for their overall age group. For example, if you're aged 18 to 20 and have completed the first year of your apprenticeship, your minimum wage is £6.83 per hour.

Valuable technical skills

An apprenticeship provides you with practical knowledge of a particular industry. Many employers find this type of experience more valuable than traditional education. Completing an apprenticeship shows employers that you're eager and experienced, displaying your commitment to a particular role. It also enables employers to feel more confident in your ability to work, face challenges and solve problems. Research your desired career and try to learn what technical skills employers look for in their employees. Take the opportunity to talk to relevant organisations and ask them whether they recommend an apprenticeship to help you build upon these skills.

Who can be an apprentice?

Different organisations manage apprenticeships depending on where you live. As such, exactly who's eligible to be an apprentice can vary slightly. To qualify for an apprenticeship in England, the requirements are the following:

  • You're 16 or older.

  • You live in England.

  • You're not in full-time education.

For Northern Ireland, the requirements include:

  • You've reached the minimum school leaving age (currently 16).

  • You're employed or about to start employment within Northern Ireland.

  • You're working at least 21 hours a week on a permanent contract.

  • You meet the requirements of your chosen apprenticeship, such as relevant GCSEs.

For Wales, the requirements are the following:

  • You're 16 or over.

  • You live in Wales.

  • You're not in full-time education.

For Scotland, the requirements include:

  • You're 16 or older.

  • You live in Scotland.

  • You're not in full-time education.

Related: How to become an apprentice in 3 simple steps

What's the difference between an apprenticeship and an internship?

Many people use the terms apprenticeship and internship interchangeably, but they're technically different concepts. To be confident you're applying for the right position, ensure you know the differences between them. An apprenticeship is the following:

  • formal employment

  • at least one year long

  • required to provide training opportunities

  • a prerequisite to a formal qualification

  • a paid position

An internship is the following:

  • an informal arrangement with no contracts

  • short-term, often lasting only a week to a few months

  • targeted at providing work experience, not training opportunities

  • not necessarily paid

  • not connected to a formal qualification

Related:

  • What is a level 4 apprenticeship? (And its equivalents)

  • How To Write an Apprenticeship Cover Letter (With Examples)

  • What is a carpentry apprenticeship? (with FAQs)

  • Tips for Writing a Great Apprenticeship CV

  • 6 Apprenticeship Interview Questions (With Example Answers)


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