Apprenticeships are a great way to get into a career and work your way up by working and learning at the same time.  Apprentices study for vocational qualifications (NVQs and other qualifications related to the type of work) one day a week or in blocks at college or a training centre, and develop their specialist skills and get an in-depth understanding of the workplace the rest of the time while they are working with an employer on their placement.  As an employed apprentice, you receive a training allowance.  Higher and degree apprenticeships are now being offered, which combine study at level 4 upwards with work, as an employee of an organisation.  Apprenticeships are offered at 4 different levels:

Intermediate (level 2) leads to qualification equivalent to 5 x GCSE grades 4/C

Advanced (level 2/3) leads to qualification equivalent to A level, or level 3 diploma

Higher (level 4 upwards) leads to qualifications equivalent to a higher national diploma/certificate and above

Degree (level 6 upwards) leads to qualifications equivalent to a degree or higher degree.

Many apprentices who start at intermediate level go on to get higher qualifications while they are working and go to university later on to do a degree.

For certain careers, apprenticeships are the main route in, as it is essential to learn on the job and gain the specialist skills, while you work.  These careers include hairdressing, motor mechanics and body work, construction trades such as plumbing, carpentry and joinery, painting and decorating, brickwork, plastering, electrical installation and many more in the construction sector, and many engineering craft trades.

To do an apprenticeship you  need:-

  • an employer who will take you on for your placement, and give you the work experience you need to develop specialist skills, and
  • a training provider who will organise the training for the qualification and make sure you are covering all the areas needed for the apprenticeship

To find an apprenticeship placement:-

  • look on the Apprenticeships website .  Employers in your area advertise their apprenticeships on this site.  If you want to apply for a vacancy you will need to register and create an account on line.
  • ask around local employers who are in the line of work you are interested in, to see if they could give you a placement.  You might want to go back to the company where you did work experience, or where you have a Saturday job to see if they can help.  Once you have found a placement, you then need to approach a training provider to organise the training and qualification.  
  • apply directly to a training provider. Many training providers ask you to find your own placement, though some will be able to help you find one.

To be successful applying for an apprenticeship, remember:-

  • employers are looking for young people who are ‘job ready’ and have good communication skills, are good team workers and can follow instructions, can show initiative, and can get to work on time every day.
  • GCSEs in English and Maths at C/4 or above are often required
  • experience of work helps.  This doesn’t have to be full time.  Perhaps you have worked in the holidays, have a Saturday job, volunteer, or did work experience from school
  • you will need an uptodate CV setting out your personal details, education and qualifications, experience of work, and the names of a couple of people who can give you a reference.

Information about apprenticeships and trainee positions with Sheffield City Council

Apprenticeships with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Apprenticeships with Sheffield Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Apprenticeships in health and social care with Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust

Degree Apprenticeships, and Higher Apprenticeships are increasingly popular, offered by employers in partnership with universities to attract bright motivated young people into industries and professions where there is a high demand for skilled entrants.  Degree apprenticeships include tuition fees paid by the employer, and, often, paid internships during the course of the degree with a job at the end.  They are not advertised on UCAS, and applicants will find details on individual university websites.

Information on the UCAS site explains how to find and apply for degree apprenticeships

  • how higher and degree apprenticeships work
  • which sectors offer higher and degree apprenticeships
  • which universities are offering degree apprenticeships
  • which companies are sponsoring higher and degree apprenticeships

For example, Sheffield Hallam University shows details of degree apprenticeships on here.

Websites for apprenticeships, traineeships, internships and placements

The Apprenticeships site remains the most comprehensive and up to date.

Some sites are geared towards students with A levels or level 3 vocational qualifications who have decided not to go to university, but would rather start working and learning through an advanced apprenticeship.  For example, NotGoingtoUni

Some sites focus on a sector of the labour market, such as law where internships and training contracts are an essential step up the career ladder.

Tips on applying for jobs and apprenticeships

When you apply for a job or an apprenticeship, it is important to spend time on it, and put yourself in the position of the person who will be reading your CV, or asking you questions at the interview.  Employers are prepared to invest time and money training you up to work in their company, and they need to know that you have thought about the job/apprenticeship and can explain your reasons for applying.  Follow the tips and hints on the Amazing Apprenticeships site

 to ensure your job/apprenticeship search is as effective as possible.