Q&A: What Is an Intermediate Apprenticeship?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 17 November 2022

Published 31 August 2021

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.

An intermediate apprenticeship, or Level 2 apprenticeship, is a year-long vocational training program that is equivalent to 5 GCSEs. As the first level of apprenticeship, it is the most popular type of apprenticeship undertaken in the UK. Working for an employer for 80% of the time and studying the other 20%, apprentices also earn incomes. In this article, we answer the question, 'What is an intermediate apprenticeship?', discuss what you can learn through this opportunity and list what career options are available after you complete a Level 2 apprenticeship.

What is an intermediate apprenticeship?

To answer the question, "What is an intermediate apprenticeship?", it's the same as a Level 2 apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are available at a diverse range of businesses and you can also find and apply for apprenticeships online or by using Indeed's job search tool. By combining study with practical training, many people find that an intermediate apprenticeship is the ideal starting point to follow a certain career. Level 2 apprentices receive:

  • Minimum wage

  • Relevant training

  • Holiday pay

  • Support from experienced team members

  • Employee benefits

  • Dedicated time for studying

  • Actual work experience

  • A relevant national qualification

Related: Four Different Types of Apprenticeships (With FAQs)

What do I learn in an intermediate apprenticeship?

If you're looking for the opportunity to study and learn while earning money, a Level 2 apprenticeship might be perfect for you. This position covers all the basics you need to know to progress in your chosen career and gives you a salary. As an intermediate apprentice, you study towards your relevant qualification, such as a BTEC Diploma or NVQ Level 2. This gives you practical industry skills, information and understanding to help you excel in future roles. You may have to complete coursework or tests to achieve your final qualification.

During your intermediate apprenticeship, the focus is on making sure you're ready for basic work in your chosen career. You might also have to reflect on your practice, think about what new skills you have learned and study for relevant health and safety qualifications, such as your food hygiene certificate. During your apprenticeship level 2, you also learn from your colleagues and supervisors, helping build your professional network. It's also a good chance to discover what elements of the career you enjoy and what future job openings are available.

Industries offering Level 2 apprenticeships

Intermediate apprenticeships are the most popular way of entering a range of careers, especially if hands-on experience and practical skills are desirable. Apprenticeships are becoming more diverse, with new opportunities arising in more work environments than ever before. There are currently over 100 industries that offer intermediate apprenticeships, including:

  • Childcare

  • Beauty

  • Sales

  • Marketing

  • Construction

  • Engineering

  • Energy

  • Healthcare

  • Hospitality

  • Accounting

  • Plumbing

  • Social care

  • Plastering

  • Education

  • Information technology

If you're looking to enter a new trade, such as carpentry, hairdressing or bricklaying, a Level 2 apprenticeship is the ideal way to gain real-world experience, learn the basic skills required and achieve a qualification. Though most apprentices get paid the minimum wage, there may be skills shortages and some companies are offering higher pay and more opportunities in order to attract new apprentices.

There are no fees associated with completing an apprenticeship, so if you don't want to pay to learn, an intermediate apprenticeship can be a great alternative. If you're returning to work and would like further training, an intermediate apprenticeship can be a great way to refresh your skills and build your confidence.

Related: How to Change Careers

How to get accepted into an intermediate apprenticeship

With the right planning and commitment, many people can reach their goal of getting an intermediate apprenticeship. Here's how:

1. Fulfil the basic qualifications

To get onto an intermediate apprenticeship, you may need two or more GCSEs. However, beyond that, employers typically focus on your passion for the field over your qualifications. If you have experience, relevant skills or mere interest in the industry, this may be sufficient. Check the specifications of the role to which you want to apply and ensure you fit them. Follow the guidelines in the apprenticeship description to apply properly. If you don't have your Maths and English GCSEs, you may need to pass a literacy and numeracy assessment for some intermediate apprenticeships.

2. Search for open positions

Search for apprenticeship positions by registering as an apprentice using the government apprenticeships database. You could also apply directly to the employer or use Indeed job search. Before you commit to a program, make sure you look at the different options available to you.

3. Apply for intermediate apprenticeships

There can be a lot of competition for apprenticeships, so if you're applying before you leave school, it could be a good idea to talk to a teacher or career advisor about your application. They may help you prepare or read over your application package. In order to get on an apprenticeship, demonstrate a passion for the role and industry, your willingness to learn and your enthusiasm for your chosen sector. Try to read up about your chosen career before you apply so you can include any relevant projects and previous work experience in your application.

Related: Guide: Using Indeed Job Search

Frequently asked questions about Level 2 internships

Review a few FAQs with answers about intermediate apprenticeships:

Am I eligible for an intermediate apprenticeship?

In order to start an apprenticeship, you need to be:

  • Over the age of 16 years old

  • Not in full-time education

  • Living in England In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

There are other apprenticeship programmes equivalent to an intermediate apprenticeship. There is no age limit to becoming an apprentice, but you simply need to be over the age of 16. If you've finished school and aren't yet 16, you can still apply for apprenticeships, but you need to be 16 when the programme starts.

Though many students who want to go directly into work choose this option, an intermediate apprenticeship is also good for those wanting a career change, a new trade or an opportunity to gain relevant work experience in a specific industry. As it is an entry-level programme with an element of studying too, intermediate apprenticeships are ideal for those who haven't studied in a while or have had a career break.

What can I do after my intermediate apprenticeship?

In a competitive job market, having direct experience in your chosen career can be a huge advantage, and completing an intermediate apprenticeship demonstrates your commitment and abilities. Apprenticeships give you confidence, new skills and experience, which puts you in a competitive position when it comes to applying for your next job or training program. Depending on what intermediate apprenticeship you complete, you can progress in your career path, either for the same company or entering a higher level apprenticeship.

You may also choose to study a further qualification at college or university or specialise in a certain area. After you have completed your intermediate apprenticeship, which usually takes between a year and 16 months, you can take on the next level apprenticeship (Level 3) in your chosen career. Many employers use apprenticeships to train, progress and get to know new team members, with impressive retention rates for apprentices who choose to stay with their company. There are also numerous options for further study whilst working, such as an advanced apprenticeship, higher apprenticeship or degree apprenticeship.

What are the four levels of apprenticeship?

The organisation of apprenticeships involves many factors, including the criteria to apply, the difficulty level of the course and the equivalent designation candidates earn from it. Apprenticeships range from level 2, the first or lowest level, to level 7, the highest. There are also four primary levels or categories for apprenticeships, which are the following:

1. Intermediate apprenticeships

Intermediate or level 2 apprenticeships are equal to five GCSE passes. As the lowest level, typically the only criteria for this position is an age of 16 years and an enthusiasm for the field. These are great opportunities for students to learn about an industry.

2. Advanced apprenticeships

These level 3 apprenticeships, equal to two passes at A-Level, are the usual next step after intermediate. Candidates may need a certain number of years of experience working in the field to apply. This position involves more advanced, in-depth training for those pursuing a career in the industry.

3. Higher apprenticeships

Level 4 apprenticeships are equal to a foundation degree, a Higher National Certificate or one year of an undergraduate degree. Candidates may need to fulfil the following qualifications:

  • Completion of an advanced apprenticeship

  • A level three NVQ/SVQ qualification

  • A BTEC national qualification

  • Two passes at A-Level

  • Five passes at GCSE at grade 9-4

Level 5 apprenticeships also belong in this category. While the requirements for level 5 resemble those for level 4, employers may have more specific requests for these positions. Make sure to read the job description carefully before applying.

4. Degree apprenticeships

Level 6 apprenticeships enable candidates to earn a bachelor's degree. Level 7 apprenticeships enable candidates to earn a master's degree. As the highest levels, these opportunities typically have strict, extensive requirements.

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