What are apprenticeships?
Apprenticeships are open to any age group, and can help both younger and older people into employment. The government fully funds apprenticeship training costs for 16 to 18-year-olds and match funds’ training costs for 19 to 24-year-olds. It also contributes to training costs for people aged 25 years and over who meet certain criteria.
The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) was launched in 2009 and has overarching responsibility for Apprenticeships in England. The NAS, through their website, runs Apprenticeship Vacancies, a web-based system that matches apprentices with prospective employers.
Apprenticeships combine real work-based experience, often with a structured learning programme designed to develop technical knowledge. Apprentices generally take 1 year to complete but some can take up to 4 years to complete, depending on the level of Apprenticeship (see below), the apprentices’ ability and the industry sector.
Key benefits for the Apprentice are that they:
· earn a salary
· get paid holidays
· receive training
· gain qualifications
· learn job-specific skills.
All Apprenticeships include key skills training in literacy, numeracy, IT, problem solving, team working and personal development and most will also include a technical certificate.
Apprenticeship and training pay
Guidance from HM Revenues & Custom states that:
· apprentices under age 19 will not qualify for the national minimum wage
· apprentices over age 19 and in the first 12 months of their apprenticeship will not qualify for the national minimum wage.
There are three levels of minimum wage, and the rates from 1st October 2015 are:
· £6.70 per hour for workers aged 21 years and older
· £5.30 per hour for workers aged 18-20 inclusive
· £3.87 per hour for all workers under the age of 18, who are no longer of compulsory school age
Sometimes there are other agreed rates for stages of an apprenticeship and they may be given an increase when they have a birthday, achieve a qualification or reach a certain standard.
Levels of Apprenticeship
There are three levels of Apprenticeship available for those aged 16 and over:
Apprenticeships (equivalent to five good GCSE passes)
Apprentices at this level will work towards work-based learning qualifications such as an NVQ Level 2, Key Skills and, in some cases, a relevant knowledge-based qualification such as a BTEC.
These provide the skills an apprentice needs for their chosen career and allows entry to an Advanced Apprenticeship.
Advanced Apprenticeships (equivalent to two A-level passes)
Apprentices at this level will work towards work-based learning qualifications such as NVQ Level 3, Key Skills and, in most cases, a relevant knowledge based certificate such as a BTEC.
To start this programme, they should ideally have five GCSEs (grade C or above) or have completed a level 2 Apprenticeship.
Higher Apprenticeships work towards work-based learning qualifications such as NVQ Level 4 and, in some cases, a knowledge-based qualification such as a Foundation degree.