What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a workbased training programme for those aged 16 and over.

Apprentices get the opportunity to earn a salary and work in their chosen sector while studying towards a nationally recognised qualification. Apprenticeships start at level two, the equivalent of five GCSE passes at grades A* to C, and go up to level seven, the equivalent of a master’s degree.

Depending on the level, apprenticeships can take between one and four years to complete.

How to find an apprenticeship?

Many large and small companies in Cumbria offer apprenticeships. Your college or training provider will be able to advise you on how to choose the right training programme to match your skills, interests and ambitions.

What is the apprenticeship levy?

The apprenticeship levy is a tax introduced by the Government to encourage more businesses in the UK to employ apprentices.

As of April 6, 2017, all employers operating in the UK with a pay bill over £3 million each year have been required to invest in apprenticeships.

These employers need to spend 0.5 per cent of their total pay bill on the apprenticeship levy.

Once they have paid the levy, they can access funding for apprenticeships to enhance their existing workforce.

How to take on an apprentice?

All businesses can take on an apprentice, regardless of whether they pay the apprenticeship levy.

To employ an apprentice, businesses must find a relevant apprenticeship training programme, find an approved training organisation, check whether they are eligible for a government grant and then apply.

Once the application is successful, the chosen training organisation will help to advertise the apprenticeship.

Once an applicant has been chosen, employers must make an apprenticeship agreement with them to agree on how long the apprenticeship will last, the training provided, working conditions and the qualification they can expect to gain.

Is an apprenticeship classed as full-time education?

As the majority of an apprenticeship takes place in the workplace, it is not classed as full-time education.

Apprentices learn a majority of their skills through on-the-job training from experienced colleagues and tutors and usually spend a day a week studying at college or with a training provider.

Andrew Wren, principal and chief executive of Furness College, says: “We treat college like a workplace so when our apprentices move full time into a working environment, they’re prepared.

"They’ve got broad, work-ready skills.”

How to apply for an apprenticeship

To apply for an apprenticeships, applicants must create an account with the Skills Funding Agency at www.findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk/register and register their details.

Once the applicant has chosen an apprenticeship to apply for, they must complete a form with information on their education, qualifications, work experience, and answer three questions about themselves.

Applicants may also have to answer two additional questions if employers have asked for further information.

After the application is submitted it will go through a shortlisting process, with successful applicants then being invited to an interview or assessment centre with their chosen employer or training provider.

How do apprenticeships work?

Apprenticeships provide apprentices with valuable experience in their chosen field and classroom-based learning towards a vocational qualification.

Apprentices gain practical on-the-job training with an employer and study, typically once a week, at college or with a training provider. Apprentices can then apply this theory and knowledge in their day-to-day work and develop their skills further.

Apprenticeships teach a range of valuable transferrable skills as well as knowledge specific to a chosen career, and can be used by employers to upskill existing staff members, as well as introducing new students to their business.

Apprenticeships benefit employers as well as apprentices by increasing innovation and productivity and introducing the most up-to-date technology and thinking.

What apprenticeships are there?

Under the Government’s reforms, there are currently 156 apprenticeship standards approved for delivery by the Skills Funding Agency, with hundreds more currently eing developed by employer groups known as ‘trailblazers’.

There are apprenticeships in a range of sectors, including business administration, engineering and manufacturing, education, digital, agriculture, and legal, finance and accounting.

These apprenticeships range from level two to level seven qualifications.

How much does an apprentice earn?

Apprentices earn a minimum of £3.40 per hour, but many employers pay more than this, depending on the sector and apprenticeship level.

Some higher apprenticeships can pay as much as £300-£500 per week.

It’s estimated that completing a level four higher apprenticeship could result in increased lifetime earnings of around £150,000.

How to prepare for an apprenticeship interview

Before attending an apprenticeship interview, thoroughly research the chosen job and company and prepare examples to demonstrate how you have used skills relevant to the apprenticeship.

An apprenticeship interview is also an opportunity to ask the employer or training provider any questions you have about the apprenticeship or the company.

Gary Gibson, Skill Centre Supervisor at Kimberly-Clark, which has a factory in Barrow, says: “My biggest piece of advice is for applicants to demonstrate their passion for their chosen apprenticeship.

“At Kimberly-Clark, it’s fantastic when someone comes in and talks very openly and passionately about engineering and brings in examples of projects they’ve done.”