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What is an apprenticeship? How can one help you change careers?

You can start an apprenticeship at any age: we answer the common question, 'what is an apprenticeship?', and look at how one can help you change careers, upskill, or return to work after a career break.

By Rebecca Roberts | Last updated Feb 17, 2023

Lloyds Banking Group university vs apprenticeships

Unbeknown to some, apprenticeships are not limited to school, college or university leavers. They are open to anyone, at any age, and can be instrumental in helping people change careers in their adult life.

In fact over the last decade or so, figures of individuals taking up ‘adult apprenticeships’ have rapidly increased and a whopping 45.5% of apprentices in the academic year 2021/22 were aged 25 and over.

No matter your age or circumstances, changing your career isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly and carefully planning your next move can be very rewarding. A combination of learning on the job and studying means apprenticeships are great for people wishing to retrain, but without giving up their income.

Whether you’d like to pursue a passion, revive a missed career opportunity, or return to work after a career break, choosing an apprenticeship is a great path to provide you with the tools you need. You will gain specialist training in your chosen field, helping you to excel in a specific role.

These days, apprenticeships are offered by hundreds of different companies across various industries. For example, Lloyds Banking Group have been offering apprenticeships for the past ten years and have seen people at all different stages in their career and life benefit from completing a programme.

They offer a wide range of apprenticeships from Level 2, which is the equivalent to GCSEs, all the way up to Level 7, the equivalent to a master’s degree. Apprentices join Lloyds Banking Group straight from school or college but also at different stages of their life – after university, to change careers or to return to work after a career break. All benefit from completing an award winning programme with support from a dedicated coach and line manager.

What is an apprenticeship, and how do they work?

Apprenticeships are a type of work placement that combines practical training alongside ongoing, industry-related studies. Unlike work experience or full time university courses, an apprenticeship is a legitimate job that requires a legal contract of employment, a salary, and annual leave.

There are different levels of apprenticeships available, and depending on your current qualifications, you can choose from any of the following:

Intermediate apprenticeships

These are Level 2 qualifications, and equivalent to GCSEs. They combine on-the-job training with classroom study - mainly key skills in English, Maths, and ICT. Intermediate courses last around 12 months.

Advanced apprenticeships

These are Level 3 qualifications, and equivalent to A levels. They are the second level of apprenticeships and can last up to 24 months.

Higher apprenticeships

These offer Level 4, 5, 6 and 7 qualifications, and apprentices upon completion of their role may receive the equivalent of a Higher National Certificate (HNC), a Higher National Diploma (HND), a Bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree.

Degree apprenticeships

Launched in 2015, this latest model of apprenticeship is becoming increasingly popular. These roles offer an alternative route to gaining a Bachelor’s or master’s degree, and allow individuals to gain a paid-for degree while getting industry experience and earning a salary at the same time.

Lloyds Banking Group university vs apprenticeships

How an apprenticeship could help you land your dream job

If you’re looking to return to work after a career break, or wanting to retrain in something new entirely, we take a look at exactly how and why an apprenticeship could be the best route for you, with the help of Lloyds Banking Group.

1. Well-placed in the job market

By completing an apprenticeship, you will learn skills that are directly relevant to your chosen career. Through your role, you will gain work experience alongside specialist skills, placing you at an advantage above individuals seeking to join your field following university, for example.

For example, if you complete a degree apprenticeship, your qualification will be the same as a degree earned through traditional routes - except you will have gained extra knowledge, skills and experience that can be applied to your role.

As Tasmia, an apprentice with Lloyds Banking Group says: "Doing an apprenticeship has allowed me to gain real world live scenarios experience, working in a team and gaining valuable experience which would have not been possible by going just to university doing a standard degree. I have been able to gain the same qualification alongside years of practical experience ranging from technical to business management."

2. Industry-recognised qualifications

Completing your apprenticeship, no matter your level, will leave you with a nationally recognised qualification that is accepted by employers. Along with the qualification, an apprenticeship will build up skills that help you succeed in that chosen career but also help you switch into something new in the future.

3. Benefit from support systems and learning aids

Most companies will assign a workplace mentor or coach to an apprentice to aid their learning. Separate to a line manager, a mentor will provide a support system for the apprentice, helping them to resolve issues quickly, settling into their role, and ultimately thrive in the workplace.

"I’ve learned so much about myself as an individual and what I want to achieve.”

A mentor may also share their knowledge and experiences, provide advice, offer encouragement, identify development opportunities, set goals and support personal wellbeing.

As Tina, an apprentice with Lloyds Banking Group says, “I would be lying if I said the journey has been without challenges, but with the support of an engaged line manager – and a coach who provided more encouragement than I could ever ask for – I’ve enjoyed every minute of being an apprentice. From meeting challenging assessment deadlines, to learning how to do Harvard referencing in my written assignments, my knowledge and skills have grown enormously. But more importantly, I’ve learned so much about myself as an individual and what I want to achieve.”

4. No tuition fees holding you back

Unlike traditional routes of education, choosing an apprenticeship means you’ll have no expensive tuition fees that you need to pay back. Instead, apprenticeships are paid for by your employer - after all, from an employer’s perspective, they are investing in training an individual to their standards.

For this reason, completing an apprenticeship to help you start a new career is a great option if you don’t want to rack up a load of debt or spend your life's savings so far.

Since an apprenticeship is an educational role, you’ll have access to student discounts, too! More savings!

5. Earn while you learn

With money in mind, it’s worth mentioning that apprenticeships are a great option for career changers wishing to maintain their income. Having a regular, monthly salary can make a huge difference at home, helping to alleviate any financial worries you may have if you were to seek full time education, for example.

As Aiman, an apprentice with Lloyds Banking Group says, "I believe there is so much value in completing a degree apprenticeship instead of going to university. You are able to gain hands-on experience, learn whilst you earn and have no student debt! What's more, you have around 3+ years of valuable experience which a fresh graduate would not have, making career prospects stronger at an early stage in your career."

6. Widen progression opportunities

Individuals considering a career change may hesitate - starting at the beginning again of a brand new industry or role can be quite daunting. But choosing an apprenticeship with companies like Lloyds Banking Group means you have the opportunity to explore your interests, discover new ones, and quickly widen your progression opportunities in your field.

With a Lloyds Banking Group apprenticeship, you’ll have development support from day one. Helping you to build your career, you’ll learn how to network across a national organisation, use different technologies to help millions of customers, and join volunteering initiatives. You’ll also learn from experienced business leaders who’ll inspire your professional development.

Lloyds Banking Group university vs apprenticeships

7. Fit around other commitments

If the last few years has taught us anything, it’s that remote, flexible working is hugely beneficial to both an employee’s wellbeing and their productivity. While there are of course industries that require apprentices to be physically present, there are a number of apprenticeships that offer hybrid working which could be helpful for adults and parents.

It’s also worth mentioning that unlike academic courses that begin at set times of the year, apprentices can be recruited all year round by companies.

8. Freedom to pursue what’s important to you

As an adult wishing to change careers, choosing an apprenticeship can help open several doors to you, and some that may not have been available to you when you were a teenager yourself.

In fact these days, more and more industries are offering apprenticeships in fields that may have previously been difficult to enter. There are apprenticeships in growing industries like cyber security where there is great demand for new skills.

9. Positive impact on your physical and mental health

Finding fulfilling work can have a hugely positive impact on your overall health, your relationships, your self-esteem and over time, your bank balance. If you’re considering a career change, choosing an apprenticeship will be beneficial and a great way to pursue your passion. After all, the average person spends a third of their life at work and if you’re miserable in your job, it matters.

As Luke, an apprentice with Lloyds Banking Group says, "I have nothing but positive things to say about my time as an apprentice with LBG. The group put a substantial emphasis on wellbeing and support, as well as investing in your professional development to enrich your future career prospects."