The Parents' Guide to National Apprenticeship Week 2023
It’s National Apprenticeship Week from 6th – 12th of February 2023, an annual, week-long celebration of apprenticeships and anyone involved with them. The week brings together businesses and apprentices across the country to shine a light on the positive impact that apprenticeships make to individuals, businesses and the wider economy.
The theme for this year is ‘Skills for Life’, reflecting on how apprenticeships can help individuals to develop the skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career.
Introducing apprenticeships: a great pathway to career success
Apprenticeships are a fantastic choice for many students, either straight after GCSE or after sixth form. It is a type of job-based training program that allows young people to gain the skills and experience needed to succeed in a specific occupation or industry. Apprenticeships typically involve a combination of on-the-job training and classroom instruction, and can lead to recognized qualifications and career advancement opportunities. Apprenticeships are available in a wide range of industries, from construction and engineering to healthcare and finance.
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Apprenticeships offer students versatility. Depending on their age, experience and qualifications already achieved, there are different entry levels for apprenticeships. The four levels of apprenticeships are:
Intermediate Level Apprenticeships: These are designed for those who have completed GCSEs but have achieved few qualifications. They are intended to provide a basic introduction to a particular occupation or industry. They typically take 12-18 months to complete and lead to a Level 2 vocational qualification.
Advanced Level Apprenticeships: These are designed for those who have completed their GCSEs with five GCSE passes or equivalent, and are intended to provide more advanced training in a particular occupation or industry. They typically take 12-24 months to complete and lead to a Level 3 vocational qualification.
Higher Apprenticeships: These are designed for those who have completed their education at sixth form, college or equivalent and achieved at least 2 A levels (or similar). They are intended to provide higher-level training in a particular occupation or industry. They typically take 3-5 years to complete and lead to a Level 4 or 5 vocational qualification.
Degree Apprenticeships: These are designed for those who have completed their education at sixth form, college or equivalent and achieved at least 2 A levels (or similar). These are designed for those who want to work towards a full bachelor's or master's degree while also gaining practical, on-the-job experience. They typically take between 3-7 years to complete, and lead to a full bachelor’s or master’s degree.
It is important to note that the level of apprenticeship will depend on the occupation or industry, and the specific requirements of the employer. Some apprenticeships may involve a mix of levels, or may offer the opportunity to progress to a higher level of apprenticeship as the individual gains more experience and skills.
Apprenticeships used to be associated with trade industries (such as electricians, mechanics or plumbers). Nowadays, apprenticeships can be taken in a wide range of industry sectors and provide entry to all types of careers, including accounting, banking, IT, law, management and television.
Length of study
Apprenticeships can last for just one year or as long as seven (or more) depending on the final qualification. If your teen isn’t comfortable with committing to several years of further study, they can take one- or two-year options and still gain recognised, valuable qualifications. Better still, if they change their mind later on and decide they wish to extend the apprenticeship to gain higher level qualifications, this is often possible. This means they don’t have to make decisions about long-term commitment when they are young or unsure of their future direction, but needn’t miss out on getting higher level qualifications if they decide later that’s what they want to do.
Work and study
As well as doing the job itself, apprentices will get dedicated time during the working week to study the education element of the apprenticeship. This usually takes place at a college, university or other education centre. However, it may also be necessary to spend personal time completing projects and keeping on top of studies, so just like being in full-time education, there may be “homework” during evenings and weekends.
Tuition fees for apprenticeships are paid by the government/employer. Apprentices are also paid a wage for their time, so they will usually complete their apprenticeship debt free. However, there will be costs for education materials, travel to and from work and possibly living expenses (if they are not based at home).
After the apprenticeship
Many apprentices are offered full-time roles with the company where they have served their apprenticeship. However, if your teen wants to try a different company, or even a different industry, they’ll have first-hand experience in the workplace. This can provide a significant edge over those that have obtained qualifications through full time education, when applying for other jobs elsewhere.
The benefits of an apprenticeship
On-the-job training: Apprenticeships provide individuals with the opportunity to gain practical, on-the-job experience in a specific occupation or industry. This type of training allows individuals to apply the skills they are learning in a real-world setting, which can lead to a deeper understanding of the occupation or industry.
Recognized qualifications: Apprenticeships lead to recognized qualifications, which can help individuals to advance in their chosen career. These qualifications are often equivalent to those gained through traditional education routes and are recognized by employers and professional bodies.
Earn while you learn: Apprentices are typically paid a salary while they are training, which can help to cover the costs of living expenses and support the individual during the apprenticeship.
Career advancement opportunities: Apprenticeships can open doors to career advancement opportunities, as many employers use apprenticeships as a way to identify and train future leaders within the organization.
Tailored to individual needs: Apprenticeships can be tailored to the individual's needs and skills, which can help to ensure that the individual is learning the skills that are most relevant to their career aspirations.
Industry connections: Apprenticeships provide the opportunity to build connections within the industry, which can be valuable when seeking future job opportunities.
Cost-effective: Apprenticeships can be a cost-effective way to gain skills and qualifications, as the individual earns a salary while they are training and often the employer covers the cost of training .
Flexibility: Apprenticeships offer flexibility, as they can be full-time, part-time, or even distance learning, which allows individuals to continue working while they gain new skills and qualifications.
Taking an apprenticeship is not an easy option and competition can be fierce. It takes organisation and dedication to balance work, where your child will be expected to contribute to the same standards as everyone else, and study. Holidays are far fewer than at college or university. However, if they learn more easily through practical application, the work based nature of apprenticeships will suit them well and they will obtain valuable experience which will strengthen opportunities in finding rewarding work when the apprenticeship is over.
Want to learn more? Download The Parents' Guide to National Apprenticeship Week 2023