A Parent / Carer's Guide To Apprenticeships

Now more than ever, apprenticeships offer a real opportunity for young people to progress their careers by not only getting nationally and industry recognised qualifications, but also by getting real experience of working in a business environment and a foot in the door. As an apprentice, your child will be working for a local business, earning a real wage, gaining practical skills and completing nationally recognised qualifications. Apprenticeships typically take at least one year to complete, but some can take up to four years, depending on the sector and the number of hours worked. An average apprentice’s salary is £170 a week.

What is an Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is first and foremost a job. It involves a number of separately certified qualifications and courses making up a framework. Apprenticeships combine practical and theoretical skills, designed to help employees reach a high level of competency and performance, and give them transferable skills for the future.

Apprenticeships can be offered to both new and existing staff. There are over 250 different types of apprenticeships available offering 1,200 job roles, ranging from Accountancy to Textiles, Engineering to Veterinary Nurse, Business Administration to Construction.

As apprenticeships are training programmes, most of the training is ‘on the job’ at the employer's premises, working with a mentor to learn the job-specific skills in the workplace. The remainder can be provided by a local college or by a learning provider, through a day or block release facility or at premises away from their working environment.

Why do an Apprenticeship?

There are many benefits to the apprenticeship programme:

  • Nationally-recognised qualifications
  • Workplace experience
  • Practical skills and knowledge
  • A real wage
  • Salary - Research shows that apprentices earn, on average, over £100,000 more throughout their lifetime than other employees.
  • Prospects - Because apprentices are trained in the skills employers want, it gives enhanced career and progression opportunities.
  • Career - Apprenticeships provide an opportunity to work for some great businesses and highlight skills and talents to help kick start their career.

Entry requirements

Apprenticeships are available to anyone over the age of 16. There are different entry requirements depending on the sector and job. Apprentices need to be committed, motivated, enthusiastic and reliable and a grade A-C in Maths and English at GCSE are an advantage.

Apprenticeship opportunities are advertised on the National Apprenticeship website. Here is how you can search for vacancies:

  1. Go to https://www.findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsearch
  2. You will need to click on Sign in / Create account to register for an account in order to apply
  3. You will receive a confirmation email and link to click on to activate your account
  4. Your account is ready to search for vacancies and there is a reusable application form to use.
    Tip: You can set up email alerts for when new vacancies come up.


The length of an Apprenticeship varies depending on prior skills levels of the Apprentice, the qualification being obtained and industry sector. Generally, Apprenticeships take between one and four years to complete.

Myth busting

There are many misconceptions about apprenticeships…let’s sort them out!

Apprenticeships are an easy option...FALSE!
Many young people are now opting for the Apprenticeship route after school, sixth-form or college where they can get real experience and a real wage as an alternative classroom based study. There are many young people who have worked with local businesses and have continued training beyond their Apprenticeship to attain Degree and Postgraduate qualifications whilst still working and earning.

Apprenticeships are a thing of the past...FALSE!
Apprenticeships have been around for a long time, and years ago they were more popular in technical trades such as Construction, but not any more!
There are over 250 different types of Apprenticeships across a wide range of industries and at different levels.

Apprentices are just school leavers brought into organisations for an extra pair of hands...FALSE!
An Apprentice is a paid employee of the company that they are working for. They’re also respected alongside experienced staff who will train them on the job. More and more employers are taking on Apprentices as a means of investment for the future of their company. Apprentices can be any age as long as they are 16 or over.

Apprentices get paid really low wages...FALSE!
The national average wage for an Apprentice is £170 per week, which is likely to rise as they progress through their qualifications. As an employee, they may also be entitled to bonus schemes operated by the company. Minimum wage advice can be found at www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates

When the apprenticeship is completed, they will have to look for another job...FALSE!
Many employers keep their apprentices as full time paid employees after they have completed their apprenticeship. After all, why would they invest their time and effort into training someone up, for them to leave and benefit someone else’s business?

If you have any further questions then please call the Apprenticeship Team on (01793) 498208 or email apprenticeships@swindon.ac.uk.


case study icon

Laura Berry

Level 3 | Sport

I would definitely recommend the college to other people because there is more freedom, you still have to do assignments by a deadline but you can work towards them at your own pace. The on-site gym is well equipped and facilities are good.
case study icon

Debbie Hooper

Level 3 | Early Years Apprenticeship

‘From standing still, I have climbed a mountain and it has been a challenge but worth the climb!’