Apprenticeships as an alternative to university

University isn't the only option open to young people after school. They could get a firm foot on the career ladder - and paid, practical learning - through an apprenticeship

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What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are paid training schemes that combine practical work experience with study. They are available in a range of industries, from business and technology to the arts and traditional trades such as plumbing and construction. Students can apply for them at 16, and there is potential to train right up to Level 6 or 7 - equivalent to a Bachelor's or Master's degree.

How can you find a suitable apprenticeship?

Don't underestimate the importance of talking to friends and relatives - whether they have children who've had to make similar decisions or are in a field which may be of interest to your own child. Most people are only too happy to help, and finding out about others' experiences of apprenticeships or traineeships in your local area can be invaluable.

If your child has an idea of the area they would like to go into, get them to research companies with a prominent presence in that field. Explore which companies offer apprenticeships, register interest with prospective employers and get your teen to assess how they might be able to impress them. 

Discovering a sense of direction, in a certain field or specifically somewhere they would like to work, can help inspire young people, and this often helps them to maintain a sense of purpose while they are completing exams or applications.

Who offers apprenticeships?

From April 2017, all large employers (with a pay bill of more than £3 million per year) will be required to pay a compulsory levy tax, which will automatically be placed into a pot which they will only be able to access through funding apprenticeships. This will open up a plethora of new opportunities for eager young people who don't feel university is the right choice for them. Essentially, there's an apprenticeship to fit almost every interest, and companies such as PWC and Goldman Sachs will be taking part in the scheme. 

In addition to the levy, the NHS and other civil services will have to ensure that their workforce is made up of a minimum of 2.25% apprentices. 

How much do apprenticeships pay?

Minimum wage for an apprentice aged 16-19 (or in their first year of an apprenticeship) is £3.30. If they are 19+ and/or have completed the first year of their apprenticeship, they are entitled to the minimum wage for their age.


The applications process

The process for applying for apprenticeships differs between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. If your child does not feel ready for an apprenticeship, they might consider a traineeship designed to give them preliminary experience.

This content was provided by Angela Middleton, Founder and CEO of MiddletonMurray and author of How To Get Your First Job...And Build the Career You Want.

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Last updated: 5 months ago