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What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships allow you to combine work and study by mixing on-the-job training with classroom learning. You'll be employed to do a real job while studying for a formal qualification, usually for one day a week either at a college or a training centre or in the work place. By the end of your apprenticeship, you'll hopefully have gained the skills and knowledge needed to either succeed in your chosen career or progress onto the next apprenticeship level.

What qualifications will I gain?

What you'll learn depends on the role that you're training for. However, apprentices in every role follow an approved study programme, which means you'll gain a nationally-recognised qualification at the end of your apprenticeship.

These qualifications can include:

Functional skills - GCSE level qualifications in English, maths and IT.

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) - from level 2 (comparable to five GCSEs) up to level 7 (similar to a postgraduate degree).

Technical certificates - such as BTEC, City and Guild Progression Award etc.

Academic qualifications - including a Higher National Certificate (HNC), Higher National Diploma (HND) foundation degree or the equivalent of a full Bachelors degree.

You'll also be constantly developing your transferable skills, otherwise known as soft skills, which are highly valued by employers. These include communication, teamwork and problem solving, as well as knowledge of IT and the application of numbers. 

What are the different levels of apprenticeships?

There are four different levels of apprenticeship:

Intermediate - equivalent to five good GCSE passes.

Advanced - equivalent to two A-level passes.

Higher - equivalent to the first stages of higher education, such as a foundation degree.

Degree - comparable to a Bachelors or Masters degree.

What is the length of an apprenticeship?

The length of your apprenticeship will depend on a number of factors, such as the level of the apprenticeship, your chosen sector, employer requirements and your individual ability.

That being said, apprenticeships will usually last between one and six years. Their length follows a basic framework:

Intermediate apprenticeships typically last between one year and 18 months

Advanced apprenticeships are usually studied over two years

Higher and degree apprenticeships take three-to-six years to complete.

It's worth checking directly with your chosen employer before applying to check how long your course will last, as some won't follow this structure

To find out more about apprenticeships at the different levels go to our Apprenticeship pages.

What are the entry requirements for apprenticeships?

As each type of apprenticeship offers a different-level qualification their entry requirements will vary. Generally speaking, they are as follows:

  • To apply for an intermediate apprenticeship, you'll just need to be over 16 years old and no longer in full-time education. 
  • For an advanced apprenticeship, you're likely to be asked for prior work experience and at least three A*-C or 9-4 grade GCSEs or equivalent - such as an intermediate apprenticeship qualification.
  • As higher apprenticeships are the equivalent of a foundation degree, HNC or first year of a Bachelors, you'll usually need at least five A*-C or 9-4 grade GCSEs, as well as some Level 3 qualifications in relevant subjects, to apply. Your Level 3 qualifications could be AS-levels, a BTEC National or a level 3 NVQ.
  • Degree apprenticeships will have the tightest entry requirements. These may include three A-levels in a specified grade range or a higher apprenticeship qualification, on top of at least five A*-C or 9-4 GCSE grades. It's likely you'll be required to have prior work experience.

You can apply for apprenticeships at any time of the year - it all depends when an employer has a vacancy. You'll be able to check the specific entry requirements of your chosen apprenticeship once the position opens. 

What is the pay and working hours for apprenticeships?

If you're either aged under 19 and an apprentice, or 19 or over and still in your first year as an apprentice, you'll be entitled to the apprenticeship wage of £3.90 (from April 2019). Apprentices aged 19 or over and who've completed their first year will be able to claim the National Minimum Wage, which currently stands at £6.15 per hour (for those aged 18-20) or £7.70 (21-24).

However, this pay rate is stated as a guideline - some, infact most, employers will pay you a higher wage. You'll also be entitled to sick pay, any additional benefits your employer offers to its other employees, such as healthcare plans and childcare vouchers, and at least 20 days of paid holiday per year.

Your working hours will vary depending on your employer, but you won't be able to work more than 40 hours per week or any fewer than 30. Typically, you'll work between 35 and 37.5 hours per week. The sector you're entering will determine the nature of your daily working hours - while most apprentices can expect to work a 9am-5.30pm day with an hour's break for lunch, those in hospitality or healthcare roles, for instance, should expect to work different shifts.

How do I apply for an apprenticeship

It's as easy as 1,2,3...

  1. Start searching through Hertfordshire's apprenticeship vacancies on our Opportunities page.
  2. Apply for vacancies that take your interest. Always apply for more than one and remember to tailor your application to each position that you are applying for. HOP into our CV: Step by Step Guide or our Essential Guide to Application forms for more help and advice. 
  3. Ask for help – to talk to someone in Hertfordshire email [email protected] or alternatively the team at the National Apprenticeship Service helpdesk will be happy to answer any questions you have, whether you’re a parent, student, teacher - anyone -[email protected] or telephone: 0800 015 0400


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