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What is an Apprenticeship?

Advice for parents

What is an Apprenticeship?

Is your child considering becoming an Apprentice as their next step? Or perhaps as a parent or carer you think an Apprenticeship is the right route for your child’s future. Apprenticeships combines the practical and hands-on qualities of training on-the-job with the educational reinforcement of studying towards a qualification and enables your child to earn a wage at the same time.  Working alongside an employer to gain valuable skills and first-hand experience, can be a great way for your child to reach their career goals. 

What are the options?

Staying in full-time education isn’t the right option for everyone and an Apprenticeship can be the ideal next step post-16. In England, until the age of 18, your child must stay in full-time education, start an Apprenticeship or traineeship, or spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training.

There are many choices for your child to make when it comes to applying for an Apprenticeship, in order for them to find the opportunity that’s right for them. From different levels of learning to the choice of industry, an Apprenticeship should reflect your child’s interests and existing skills.

It takes between one and four years to complete an Apprenticeship and there are several levels to choose from to suit your child’s educational stage, not to mention over 1,500 roles across multiple industries: from engineering and education to administration and agriculture.

Take a look at the finer details of Apprenticeship choices: levels, jobs and sectors, and wages. 

Level 2 

Equivalent to: 5 GCSE passes at grade A* to C

Intermediate Apprenticeships are the first level of Apprenticeship designed to equip you with the skills you need for the working world.

As with all Apprenticeships you will be learning on-the-job, earning a wage as you study towards a qualification.

Intermediate Apprenticeships are available across a wide range of industries, once complete you might go on to do an advanced Apprenticeship.

Level 3 

Equivalent to: 2 A level passes

An advanced Apprenticeship is a step above an intermediate Apprenticeship and an opportunity for you to develop your skills whilst working and earning a wage.

To complete an Apprenticeship at this level, applicants should ideally have five GCSEs at grade C or above or have completed an intermediate Apprenticeship.

Levels 4, 5, 6, 7 

Equivalent to: Foundation degree 

A Higher Apprenticeship is the same as any other Apprenticeship in the sense that you will gain a qualification whilst working and earning a wage, however a higher apprenticeship is a larger qualification and those completing this level of apprenticeship are usually 18 and over.

To complete an Apprenticeship at this level you must have either completed an Intermediate Apprenticeship or have a certain number of GCSEs

They are designed to develop your skills to the highest standard and can offer a unique route to gaining a university qualification.

On completion, Apprentices can progress to higher education, including university degrees.

Jobs and sectors

With apprenticeships encompassing over 25 sectors, there are hundreds of opportunities to be explored, including business, management and media, construction and building, engineering and manufacturing, logistics and warehousing. It is a myth that apprenticeships only cover ‘hands on’, practical trades in construction, such as building and plumbing – those days are long gone. 


One of the key benefits of being an apprentice is the advantage to earn and learn. Unlike juggling a part-time job with a separate qualification, your child will receive a wage to work 30+ hours a week while working towards a qualification. The wage they receive depends on their age and current apprentices minimum wage values.  A breakdown of current national minimum wages can be found on the governmnet website.  


Not only is an apprenticeship a great opportunity for your child to earn while they learn, but there is a whole host of benefits that come with gaining a qualification in this way including:

  • Nationally recognised qualifications.
  • Evidence of hard work and commitment. 
  • Apprentcices gain job-specific skills first-hand.
  • Great progression opportunities
  • Earn whilst learning

Could an Apprenticeship be the right option for your child?

Perhaps you’re thinking that this all sounds great for your child and it’s the next step for them, but are they eligible to complete an Apprenticeship?

Your child is suitable to undertake an Apprenticeship if they:

  • Are 16 and over
  • Don’t have a degree-level qualification
  • Are living in England
  • Are not in full-time education
  • Entry requirements vary: they may need up to five GCSEs at A* to C

An Apprenticeship may appeal to those who are interested in a particular industry or who feel that the school or college setting is no longer for them. If an Apprenticeship is what you and your child think is their next step, they need to show they have the ability and willingness to complete the programme, both in terms of the requirements and attitude. As an Apprenticeship is a real job, there is an element of competition against other applicants to secure the role, so your child needs to be prepared for this.

Case studies

Hear what our apprentices have to say.