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  • Writer's pictureThe Parents' Guide to

3 steps in helping your teen find the right apprenticeship

Apprenticeships differ in the entry level, qualifications that can be achieved, length of commitment and balance between work and study. Some may involve moving away from home, although not usually.

With lots of variables, it might help to think about the different elements separately to work out which type of apprenticeship suits your teen best. There are three key considerations when choosing an apprenticeship:

  1. which entry level is appropriate

  2. how long they'd like to study

  3. which industry sector appeals

Which entry level is appropriate?

This is largely determined by having the necessary qualifications to be accepted. Entry level ranges from 2 to 7. There is no entry level 1, because in order to start an apprenticeship a minimum standard of education is required. For students that don't have the knowledge needed to start an apprenticeship, they can take a traineeship, which is a course designed to prepare them for starting an apprenticeship.

For post-GCSE apprenticeships, your teen will need at least a minimum standard of Maths and English to apply for Level 2 (intermediate), or 5 GCSE passes to apply for Level 3 (advanced).

To apply for a post-sixth form apprenticeships, at Level 4-5 (higher) or Level 6-7 (degree), your teen will need at least two A levels (or equivalent) and in some cases they may need to have exceeded this. Interestingly, unlike some universities that can be rigid in entry requirements, employers for apprenticeships can sometimes be more relaxed and offer flexibility around the minimum qualifications required for entry if your teen has some industry experience. In light of this, it's all the more important to make sure your teen gets volunteering or work experience while at school (or during the holidays).

How long should they study?

One of the best things about apprenticeships is the length of study-time can vary, so students that don't feel ready to make a long-term commitment over several years can take a one or two year apprenticeship and still gain a nationally recognized qualification. Even better, if they change their mind and decide they want to extend their study time to get a higher level qualification, this is often possible.

Level 2 apprenticeships usually last for 12-18 months. Level 3 can last for 12-24 months. Level 4/5 last for between 3 and 5 years, whilst Level 6/7 (resulting in a degree) will last for 3 to 7 years. Degree apprenticeships offer an attractive alternative to studying full time at university, as students can obtain a BA or BSc degree but don't incur tuition fees - but it will mean working in a real job too! Level 7 degree apprenticeships offer the chance to obtain a masters degree.

What sectors are they interested in?

They should decide on which industry they'd like to work in and see what apprenticeships are available within that sector. If they don’t know where their areas of interest lie, it’s time to do some research! Of course, careers advisers can help at school, but they might want to jump online themselves. If they get bored reading about a certain sector, chances are that’s an indication the sector isn’t for them.

If there aren't any apprenticeships in the industry that most appeals to them, they can consider other sectors if the content of their apprenticeship is transferable. For example, a buildings manager needs to work in the construction industry, but an office manager can train in any sector, gain the skills necessary, then swap sectors later on.

Will the apprenticeship help them get the career they want?

There’s no need to be too specific about the job or role they ultimately want, but it’s important that they can see a correlation between their apprenticeship, the areas of study, the experience it will give them, and where they want to be in the future (say five years’ time).

One of the great things about apprenticeships is that they offer the opportunity to develop lots of transferrable skills through first-hand work placements. Many of these skills are relevant in different industries, so if your teen starts an apprenticeship in one sector and later decides it's not for them, they'll still have worthwhile skills when applying for roles elsewhere. However, if they've chosen an industry that they still enjoy after the apprenticeship, very often they'll be offered a role within the company where they've been an apprentice.

The Parents' Guide to Apprenticeships

Find out more

The Parents’ Guide to Apprenticeships gives a full overview of apprenticeships, both after GCSE and sixth form, including:

  • Types of apprenticeship – the qualifications needed at each entry stage, what further qualifications are on offer and how long each apprenticeship lasts

  • The pros and cons – why apprenticeships are ideal for some teens but not for others

  • Degree apprenticeships – how they differ from full-time university degrees

  • How to research an apprenticeship

  • Top ten apprenticeship providers

  • The application process and how it works

  • Helping to prepare teens for interview enabling them to make the best impression


We always love to hear from you, so do let us know if there are any subjects you’d like us to chat to you about. Stay safe and keep happy, Vanessa and Darius -


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