What is an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are designed by sector skills councils and employers to ensure that they reflect the current market and industry needs, they offer a structured program that provides apprentices with the skills needed to do the job well. Apprentices will either attend college for day/block release or receive the practical training in your workplace; this depends on the course they are studying. They will work towards their apprenticeship framework by studying technical skills and carrying out practical assessments. 


Apprenticeship subjects

There are over 250 different apprenticeships available. For a comprehensive and up-to-date list of Apprenticeship frameworks available visit the following page from the NAS website.


Different levels of Apprenticeship


  • Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship
  • Level 3 Advanced
  • Level 4/5 Higher Apprenticeship

Components of an Apprenticeship

An Apprenticeship is essentially a set of qualifications called a ‘framework.’ Most Apprenticeship frameworks follow a standard format that’s made of a technical certificate, an NVQ and functional skills.

 The technical certificate focuses on the knowledge and understanding that underpins the NVQ and really concentrates on theory side. Generally obtaining the technical certificate involves commitment to a minimum number of hours in a classroom where usually the apprentice would attend college 1 day a week or for some frameworks this may also be delivered during block release.

The NVQ focuses on the practical skills required to do the ‘day to day’ job and also forms part of the qualification which demonstrates the ability at work and the ability to do the job. The NVQ itself is work based and this element of the framework is usually achieved through assessment and training where specific units are selected at the start of the Apprenticeship program.

Functional skills are those core elements of English, maths and ICT that provide individuals with the skills and abilities they need to operate confidently, effectively and independently at work. If the Apprentice doesn’t have the required GCSE grades C or above in these core subjects than the training provider would support them to achieve these.


Length of Apprenticeships

The length of an apprenticeship varies depending on prior skills levels of the apprentice, the qualification being obtained and industry sector. Generally, apprenticeships take between one and four years to complete. You can also start an apprenticeship at any time of year and they need to be for a minimum of 30 working hours per week


Apprentices Wages

The national minimum hourly rate of pay for apprentices is £2.73 per hour. As the host employer you are able to set the hourly rate of pay to what you feel is appropriate to the job role and functions, we recommend incentivising pay rises which are linked to the apprentice’s course as well as performance within the workplace. As the apprenticeship is a package of work and on and off the job training, It is right that apprentices are paid for all the time they are on the apprenticeship. That includes training time.



Under 18

18 to 20

21 and over






The entry requirements for an Apprenticeship

For a level 2 apprenticeship you may, though not always, need some GCSE subjects at grades A – C.

For a level 3 programme (called an Advanced Apprenticeship) you will normally need five GCSEs, often including English, Science and Mathematics, or have already completed a level 2. The entry qualifications are generally set by the employer.


The length of the Apprenticeship

This will vary according to the employer, the type of occupation you are   training for and the level of Apprenticeship, but Apprenticeships normally take between one and four years.

The length of time taken to complete your training will also depend on your own skills and ability.


Further Information about Apprenticeship

Visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk. This site has lots of detailed information about the different types of Apprenticeship available and you can also search for vacancies.


Where Apprenticeship leads

You may progress to a higher level Apprenticeship or continue into more highly skilled employment.

After an advanced Apprenticeship, depending on the qualifications gained, it may be possible to move into higher education.

Who can do an Apprenticeship

You can become an apprentice in England if you’re:

    • 16 or over
    • eligible to work in England
    • not in full-time education