How to find apprenticeships (with definition and tips)

Updated 8 September 2023

Apprenticeships are a useful way of getting started with the career you want. They combine academic learning with on-the-job experience. If you are interested in an apprenticeship, knowing how to find one can help you begin work in your chosen profession. In this article, we explain what an apprenticeship is, describe how to find apprenticeships for your career and list some additional tips for securing a position.

Related: Key differences between a traineeship vs apprenticeship

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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What is an apprenticeship?

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An apprenticeship combines study and work. Apprentices learn how to perform a particular job through workplace-based experience and education. Additionally, they spend at least a fifth of their time in an academic learning environment, such as one day per working week. This is usually at a college or university that's participating in the programme, enabling them to acquire recognised qualifications. One benefit of apprenticeships over full-time learning is that apprentices earn a salary and are entitled to holiday leave. Apprentices also tend to have a formal assessment before completing their apprenticeship.

Similar to a job or educational programme, apprenticeships have entry requirements. There are also various levels of apprenticeships that are equivalent to educational ones. An apprenticeship is an excellent idea for someone who's just finished school or is in their final term. The only stipulations are that you are over the age of 16 and aren't in full-time education. Some apprenticeships prioritise candidates who don't have a degree, while others only offer the apprenticeship to non-degree holders.

Related: Types of apprenticeships for 16-year-olds and how to apply

How to find apprenticeships

If you want to know how to find apprenticeships, consider the options and steps below:

1. Identify what you want to do

Before you commence your search, consider researching the specific type of apprenticeship you are looking for because there are apprenticeships for almost every sector and industry. If you are still in school, speak to your career advisor if you want guidance in figuring out what you want to do. If you are considering a particular job or career, look up online guides to identify the best apprenticeships to get started.

Related: What are level 3 apprenticeships? (With benefits and FAQs)

2. Ensure you meet the requirements

Like college courses, university degrees and jobs, apprenticeships have entry requirements. These differ from one provider to another, but they broadly correspond to a hierarchy. Apprenticeships are available in levels that are equivalent to educational qualifications, which the below demonstrates:

  • Level 2: This is an intermediate apprenticeship. It is equivalent to GCSEs.

  • Level 3: This is an advanced apprenticeship. It is equivalent to A-levels.

  • Levels 4, 5 and 6: These are higher apprenticeships. They are equivalent to a foundation degree or above, but below a bachelor's degree.

  • Levels 6 and 7: These are degree apprenticeships. They are equivalent to a bachelor's or master's degree.

The requirements typically include at least some certifications from a lower level, in addition to level-equivalent qualifications. For example, a Level 2 apprenticeship usually requires one or two GCSEs, sometimes more. Around five GCSEs are often necessary for a Level 3 apprenticeship. Higher and degree apprenticeships typically stipulate that the candidate has A-levels or other equivalent qualifications. Some careers lack an intermediate apprenticeship and want you to start at the advanced level or above, such as software developers and nurses. The higher the apprenticeship level, the longer it is likely to be in duration.

Related: What is a Level 7 apprenticeship? (Definition with benefits)

3. Check job sites

Once you've identified the type of apprenticeship you want to pursue and know you meet the requirements, you are ready to look for opportunities. Many employers advertise apprenticeships on job sites such as Indeed, allowing you to quickly browse numerous postings and filter them based on your preferences. The job advertisement is likely to contain most of the relevant information you'd want to know, such as the pay, the division between working and learning, the location and the qualification level you receive upon completion.

Related: Where to look for jobs: finding your next opportunity

4. Look through local authority sites

Another place to look for apprenticeships is through local authority websites. These sites typically have a vacancy section that includes apprenticeship opportunities. The website receives regular updates, so check it frequently to ensure you find the latest postings. Local authority websites may allow you to sign up and receive alerts when new jobs appear, enabling you to receive notifications or emails with up-to-date listings. Consider that there are often two levels of local authority administration with their own websites, such as towns or cities and counties. Check both to ensure you find as many opportunities as possible.

5. Use the government apprenticeship service

The government apprenticeship service is a website that helps you find apprenticeships in England. There are also separate equivalent services for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Consider either browsing opportunities or conducting a specific search. Look by the job title, employer, reference number or description. Enter your postcode to find opportunities closest to you and set the search radius in addition to specifying the apprenticeship level in which you are interested.

If you use the browse option, select a category and set the same criteria for location and level. This enables you to find apprenticeships in a specific sector or industry. Categories include education and training, engineering and manufacturing, information and communication technology, social sciences, science and mathematics, amongst many others.

Related: What subjects can you study on a NatWest apprenticeship?

6. Speak to your career advisor

If you are still at school, consider speaking to your careers advisor. They're specifically trained to help you determine what you want to do and direct you to places to find apprenticeships. These advisors often have contact with local organisations looking for apprentices and may make recommendations of local organisations that regularly hire school leavers for apprenticeships, to better assist you in securing one. Additionally, they may direct you to student career websites, some of which advertise apprenticeships and other opportunities for school leavers.

Related: What does a careers advisor do? (Key duties explained)

7. Apply directly

Once you have found the apprenticeship to which you want to apply, prepare your application documents. These are often similar to the ones you would use to apply for a job or post-school education programme. Check the prerequisites and description for that apprenticeship to determine what is necessary for your submission. If you are crafting documents such as a CV or cover letter, many guides, templates and examples are available for you online to help you write your own. Your school careers advisor is also often helpful with preparing these documents and offering you feedback.

Even if you haven't found a particular apprenticeship, you may make enquiries with an employer that interests you to see if there are any opportunities. Send them a copy of your CV and a cover letter or personal statement to demonstrate your interest and skills. Even if they don't have an opportunity immediately, they sometimes contact candidates that have actively expressed interest when one arises.

Related: How to write an apprenticeship cover letter (with examples)

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Tips for apprenticeships

If you are looking for apprenticeships or sending an application for one, consider the tips below:

  • Sign up for alerts. If you are searching for apprenticeships on a website, look for the opportunity to sign up for alerts through email or similar methods. This helps you quickly check relevant options from multiple sources.

  • Review your application. Before you send your application, review your documents to ensure they match the apprenticeship's requirements and proofread them. Ask a career advisor or family member to look at them and get their feedback.

  • Tailor your application. Like a job application, look for ways to tailor your documents for that particular apprenticeship and organisation. Research them to learn about what they prioritise and highlight relevant information in your CV and cover letter.

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