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Everything You Need To Know About Apprenticeships

Work while you study – an apprenticeship is a way to gain the skills, knowledge and experience you need to get into many careers. They combine work, training, and study, letting you 'earn while you learn'.

There are many different apprenticeships available across a wide range of industries, and for a wide variety of job roles. As a paid employee, each apprentice works alongside their studies. There are no student fees – your training costs are funded by the government and your employer.

It’s an ideal option if you have a clear idea of the career path you want to follow, providing you with practical, on-the-job training, and classroom-based instruction.

Who Apprenticeships Are For

Apprenticeships are ideal if you have a clear idea of the career you’d like to pursue, and you’re willing to commit to work and study. Unlike in school, at college or on a traditional degree course, the majority of your learning will be through on-the-job training in your place of work.

To be considered for an apprenticeship programme, you need to be:

  • aged 16 or over

  • living in England

  • not in full-time education

Students on a Break

Who Would Suit An Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships aren’t the ‘easy’ option. Holding down a full-time job and studying takes commitment and hard work, and it won’t be right for everyone.  You will need to prove yourself in the workplace, while getting to grips with studying for a higher level qualification. You will be expected to achieve academically and at work, managing your time whilst adjusting to longer hours, with fewer holidays than at school, college, or university.

An Apprentice:

  • has a clear idea of the type of career they wish to pursue

  • is willing to commit to work and study, but would prefer a more practical and work-related approach to learning

  • is ready to start work with an employer, and be based in the workplace most of the time

  • is well organised and able to cope with the competing demands of work and academic study at the same time

  • is ready to be assessed through a mix of assignments, practical and written work, including essays, reports, practical exercises, end tests, and exams

Advantages & Disadvantages Of An Apprenticeship


Professor & Students
  • Apprenticeships offer a direct alternative to full-time higher education for those who would prefer to start employment.

  • You can earn a wage while completing a higher education qualification, and you won't have to pay tuition or course fees.

  • You will gain real knowledge, skills, and experience required for specific careers, and possibly professional accreditation.

  • Your investment in high level training and study can provide a long term career path and increase your earning potential.

  • Your work experience, transferable skills, and high level qualifications may leave you well placed to obtain employment in a number of related careers.


  • It can be difficult to balance academic study with work commitments — you need to be well organised!

  • Although you will study a higher education qualification, your experience of student life will be limited compared to those attending full-time courses at university or college.

  • You need to have a clear idea of the type of career you wish to pursue, as this is a vocational qualification.

  • The initial apprenticeship wage you start on may be quite low compared to other employment, and you'll need to cover your day-to-day living costs, rent, travel costs, equipment and materials.

  • Tax and National Insurance contributions will come out of your salary.

College Students

 Apprentice Assessment And Certification

You will be assessed at some stage during your apprenticeship to ensure you have achieved the knowledge, skills and behaviours required. Increasingly, many apprenticeships now include an end-point assessment which will test you at the end of the apprenticeship to make sure you are fully competent in your apprenticeship occupation. 

Your employer and training provider should give you plenty of guidance as to expectations and when your assessment will happen.

End-Point-Assessment Information

   What Is An End Point Assessment

The employer and training provider decide together when the employee is ready to be assessed. This will be at the end of the training programme, hence the name end point assessment.

This end point assessment is carried out by an independent assessment organisation registered with the Education and Skills Funding Agency as an End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO).

The EPAO has to prove the occupational competence of their assessors in the subjects that they want to assess and provide evidence to support the ongoing currency of that competence.

It is the job of the EPAO to ensure that everything is carried out fairly, objectively and with transparency.

Good To Know

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