Getting the ball rolling
While it used to be hard to know where to begin, finding the right apprenticeship in 2024 couldn’t be easier. That’s because the UK government has joined up with UCAS to add an ever-expanding list of apprenticeships to their hub page – putting all of your options in one place.
There are thousands of apprenticeships to choose from on the UCAS hub, so you’re bound to find something that sparks your interest. Options include engineering, legal studies, education, hair and beauty, digital and IT, animal care, architecture, catering… the list goes on.
You’ll find apprenticeships on new and emerging technologies such as AI and machine learning. Data science and cloud computing are areas of high demand, and, as of September this year, the first-ever NHS doctor apprenticeships will go live. There’s even an apprenticeship on space systems engineering launching this year, perfect for would-be rocket designers.
So, who can do an apprenticeship? The short answer is: just about everyone. As long as you’re 16 and above and not in full-time education, you’re eligible. And if you didn’t pass English and maths at GCSE, don’t worry – you’ll have another chance to get the grades you need later on.
There are four levels of apprenticeship: intermediate, advanced, higher, and degree. For intermediate, some employers require no formal qualifications, while others ask for two GCSEs at grades 9-4. To meet advanced requirements, you’ll usually need five GCSE at grades 9-4, and for higher, you’ll either have two A levels or an advanced apprenticeship under your belt. Degree apprenticeships vary, but often require three A levels at grades 9-4.
You can even do an apprenticeship if you’re in full-time employment. This is a growing trend, as employers seek to upskill their workers, especially in areas of data science, digital marketing, and cyber security. Seen as a win-win, this type of training means that employees gain a new skill to add to their CV, while businesses save money on recruitment.
What are the benefits?
A major benefit of doing an apprenticeship is that you earn while you learn. Starting in April 2004, the hourly rate for 16–17 year-olds will rise 20% to £6.40, while for 18-20 year-olds, a 15% rise will put the hourly rate at £8.60. For those 21 and over, a 10% rise puts learners in line with the National Living Wage – £11.44. These are the minimum rates an employer must pay, although in reality, apprentices can earn much more, particular in areas such as finance, hospitality, engineering, and IT.
Apart from keeping you out of debt (the average debt for a university student is £40,000), an apprenticeship prepares you for the world of work. You’ll get used to organising your time, learn how to interact with colleagues, and gain that all-important work experience for your CV.
An apprenticeship can also provide a stepping stone to a higher-level course. If you’re not qualified for an advanced apprenticeship, for example, completing an intermediate apprenticeship will give you the experience you need. If you decide to look for a full-time job straight away, an apprenticeship will help you stand out in the job market – you’ve proven that you can commit, learn, and progress.
But if nothing else, doing an apprenticeship will give you skills for life. You’ll come away with valuable skills that few people possess, whether that’s the ability to fix your own car, mend a hole in your roof, or save someone’s life. You’ll know how to problem solve, work as a team to get a job done on time, and be ready to take on life’s many challenges.
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