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Enrolment in apprenticeships has been dwindling lately and policymakers, as well as employers, are feeling the increasing pressure to help mitigate low productivity and deal with the changing employment landscape since the triggering of Article 50. It was discovered that 87% of employers have cited that they have been struggling to find suitable candidates for apprenticeships.

However, apprenticeships are a great way to get work-based skills and experience while getting remunerated. There is also a growing demand for skilled tradespeople, and an apprenticeship is one of the best ways to enter the trades and integrate key skills.

However, apprenticeships aren’t for everyone, and in order to truly benefit from all that apprenticeships have to offer, you have to evaluate whether an apprenticeship would be a good choice for you and pick one that fits your interests and aptitudes. Here are 3 easy questions that will help you determine if an apprenticeship is for you.

Guy working at warehouse

What Do I Want to Do?

Apprenticeships can be identified by the level of apprenticeship, the type of apprenticeship and the type of employer. Do you want to go into business, construction or engineering? Do you want to be a drafter, a skilled technician, a nursing assistant, electrician, plumber, welder or something else? If you like science and nature, do you want to work as a lab technician or horticulturalist? For some jobs, training isn’t required, while others require a degree or apprenticeship.

There are currently 3 levels of apprenticeships and employers will usually make it very clear for which type you’re enrolling. Intermediate apprenticeships are equal to 5 GCSE passes. The apprentice can obtain work-based qualifications and knowledge-based qualification.

Advanced apprenticeships, on the other hand, are the equivalent of 2 A-level passes. Apprentices can obtain work-based qualifications, like an NVQ level 3 qualification, plus key skills.

Apprentices who enrol for higher apprenticeships will obtain level 4 work-based qualifications. In some cases, they will also obtain a knowledge-based qualification, like a Foundation degree for instance. These apprentices can also progress to a university course if they wish.

Entry requirements at any level will vary, and you might need up to 5 GCSEs ranging from A to C — including Maths and English. So, your academic abilities and interests may mean employers don’t consider you a fit with their programme. This is why you should consider a variety of apprenticeships instead of setting your heart on one.

Where Do I Want to Work?

The type of work environment will affect the type of apprenticeship you want to apply for. For example, if you like architecture but not being on the construction site, you might want to consider training as a drafter or in interior design. If you like fashion and beauty, you could inquire about working in costume design or an apprenticeship in hair styling. If you like music, you could apply for an apprenticeship in publicity or music marketing as well as learn how to set up sound studio equipment or equipment for live events.

If you want to work for a particular company, then you need to look at the types of apprenticeships that company offers. A quarter of small to medium-sized businesses offer apprenticeships, and a similar percentage are considering offering one. Research the companies before you apply for an apprenticeship.

There’s a requirement that apprentices spend 20% of their apprenticeship on off-the-job learning. That could be one day a week at a college/training provider but doesn’t need to be. It’s highly unlikely it’ll be more than one day a week.

An option you may want to consider is the rigorous apprenticeship standards by City & Guilds as they ensure that apprentices complete a vocational education that prepares them for a successful career. This improves the chances that apprentices will be able to find jobs elsewhere, as well as being able to move on to higher levels of study or more advanced apprenticeships.

What Are the Rules?

Apprenticeships are often subject to a number of rules. You need to know the rules for each apprenticeship before applying, and you’ll need to know what will work for you. For example, some apprenticeships require you to finish secondary school while others let you start at age 16. When does the apprenticeship start? Few let you start at any time. What will the time commitment to classes and/or work be? You need to know that you can handle the workload. If training is a mix of on-site and in the classroom, you may need to plan for travel between multiple locations. How long is the training programme? How often are assessments held, and what happens if you aren’t up to standard?

The best way to determine if an apprenticeship is right for you is to imagine what you want to do, including the type of work and environment you want to work in. You will also need to consider the rules regarding apprenticeships so that you pick the right programme for you.

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