What will I study as an apprentice?
A set of separate qualifications called a ‘framework’ make up the Apprenticeship, as this is not a qualification in its own right. Frameworks usually consist of three components – an NVQ, Functional Skills, and a Technical Certificate, and are set by standard setting bodies that represent employers’ needs, called Sector Skills Councils. As an apprentice you will take tests for technical knowledge and be assessed by an occupational competent assessor in your workplace.
New Apprenticeship Standards are currently being developed and are slowly replacing the current frameworks. The new Standards will have rigorous end point assessments (EPA) that are independently administered to verify the competence of the apprentice.
What qualifications do I need to become an apprentice?
The ability to complete the programme and determination to succeed are the most important attributes for a potential apprentice. General ability in English, Maths and ICT will be assessed by New College Stamford. For example, for an Automotive Apprenticeship you will need to pass the SelectorAhead assessments before commencing your programme.
However, as a general guide, the following qualifications are required as a minimum:
- Intermediate (Level 2) Apprenticeship: 2 GCSEs A to D Grade or equivalent e.g. NVQ Level 1.
- Advanced (Level 3) Apprenticeship: 5 GCSEs A to C Grade or equivalent e.g. NVQ Level 2.
What can I expect to be paid as an apprentice?
From 1st October 2016 the Government’s minimum wage rate for apprentices is £3.40 per hour. The new rate will apply to:
- Apprentices under 19.
- Apprentices aged 19 and over but in the first year of their Apprenticeship.
However, this is only a minimum hourly rate. Employers are encouraged to pay more where possible.
Further information can be found at GOV. UK here
What are the advantages and disadvantages of Apprenticeships?
Apprenticeships have many advantages, here are just some.
- They get paid, which means that they will be earning and learning.
- The learning is delivered by a combination of attending college and learning at work – a good mix for those that do not want to remain in the classroom all day.
- They will receive recognised qualifications including NVQs, Functional Skills (or GCSE) and a Technical Certificate.
- They will be trained to do a job – and learn skills they can apply to real situations which they can use in the future to ‘hit the ground running’. They will also have a reference from their original employer that will support any future job applications.
- Employers will often support their staff to study for higher qualifications such as HNC, HND, and Foundation Degrees so the apprentice can continue to study and work at the same time. This will help them avoid the costs that Full-Time undergraduates can face. However, there are some disadvantages to Apprenticeships – Studying at a higher level can take longer with some Apprenticeships – but this should be offset against the debts incurred with Full-Time study.
- Some young people would prefer to learn in an academic environment not the workplace. Not every occupation can support Apprenticeships and they may have to take the academic route instead.
How can I apply and gain an Apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships should not be considered an easy option, and there is competition to gain one. You will need the following:
- The right qualifications and job opportunity (particularly for an Advanced Level 3 Apprenticeship).
- To be aged between 16-23 years ideally – although older students can apply and be accepted for an Apprenticeship. At level 3, the 19+ Advanced Learning Loan may be a better option for more mature students.
- An employer that is willing to take you on – although we can offer help with this in some instances.
- A willingness to learn and succeed, and a flair for the area that you are applying for.
To search and apply for an apprenticeship, click here.
Age 16 to 18 are fully funded by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA). No employer contribution required.
Age 19 and over are only part funded by the SFA. An employer contribution towards training and support costs may be required.