Becoming an apprentice – FAQs

What's an apprenticeship?

As an apprentice, you’ll combine practical training in a job with study, plus you’ll be earning a salary throughout. An apprenticeship is a genuine job and so you’ll be employed from day one.

The benefits for you:

  • Working alongside experienced staff, developing key industry knowledge and experience
  • Gaining job-specific skills and industry recognised standards or qualifications
  • Receiving employee benefits – earning a wage, holiday entitlement and employee’s rights
  • Study time related to your role – the equivalent of one day a week
  • The possibility of a permanent role with your apprenticeship employer once you’ve finished
Are there any age limits?

The only requirement is for you to be 16 when you start the apprenticeship, with no upper age limit.

How many hours will I work a week?

The minimum duration of each apprenticeship is based you working 30 hours a week or more, including any off-the-job training you undertake. There are exemptions to this, for example if you have caring responsibilities for someone or you have a disability and work a reduced number of weekly hours. In these types of situations, the length of the apprenticeship will be increased to take this into account.

Time spent on off-the-job training should be at least 20% of your working hours. Your employer must allow time for you to complete the apprenticeship within your working hours, including any support needed with English and maths.

Will I be paid?

Yes, you will. The minimum rate of pay you must be paid is determined by the government and updated every April. Although this is the minimum legal amount you’ll be paid, some employers may pay you more.

  • Apprentice rate: If you’re aged under 19 or aged 19 or over and in the first year of your apprenticeship, you’ll be paid the national minimum rate for apprentices
  • National minimum wage: If you’re aged 19 or over and have completed the first year of your apprenticeship, you’ll receive the national minimum wage for your age
  • National living wage: If you’re aged 23 and over and have completed the first year of your apprenticeship, you’ll be entitled to the national living wage
Apprentice 18 to 20 21 to 22 23 and over
April 2021 (current rate per hour) £4.30 £6.56 £8.36 £8.91

 

To check the latest minimum wages and rates, click here.

How long does an apprenticeship take?

The minimum length of time for an apprenticeship is 12 months. For higher level programmes where highly specialist skills are required, an apprenticeship can take up to 4 years.

Can I start an apprenticeship with my current employer?

Absolutely. An apprenticeship gives you a great opportunity to gain a recognised qualification in your role. The first step is to speak to your employer and we can help you both with any questions you have.

Do I need specific experience or qualifications?

Not always. There will be different entry requirements depending on the industry, job role and apprenticeship level. When looking for an apprenticeship opportunity on the government apprenticeship website, it will list what the entry requirements are for the job role being advertised.

There are minimum English and maths requirements for all apprenticeship levels. If you have a learning difficulty or disability, you can access a level 2 intermediate apprenticeship as long as you achieve an entry level 3 qualification during their apprenticeship.

Will I be able to take holidays?

Of course. As a paid employee, you’ll receive holiday entitlements and holiday pay. The number of holiday days you’re entitled to will be specific to your employer.

Do I need to pay tax?

As you’ll be an employee and aged over 16, you must pay income tax if you meet the tax threshold. This will automatically be deducted by your employer from your salary. If you’re under 25, you don’t need to pay the Class 2 National Insurance contribution.

How can I find an apprenticeship?

You can search and apply for vacancies on the government link ‘Find an apprenticeship’. Search by keyword (job role, occupation type or apprenticeship level) and by location. When you see a job you’re interested in, register on the website and follow the step by step instructions to apply for the role. You can also set up email and text alerts about new vacancies you may be interested in. More information, including videos of current apprentices, is available at apprenticeships.gov.uk

We can also help. Thanks to our association with MITSkills, you can call the apprenticeship team on 0845 430 9009 and they’ll help you to find an apprenticeship opportunity and guide you through the application process.

How will the training provider support me?

They play an important role in providing you with off-the-job training, assessing your progress towards achieving your qualification and supporting you generally during your apprenticeship. They’ll also work very closely with your employer to ensure you receive:

  • An induction programme on starting
  • A detailed training plan (including on-the-job training)
  • Regular progress reviews
  • Opportunities to put into practice off-the-job learning so that you can achieve your qualifications/requirements of the apprenticeship
  • Mentoring and general support throughout your apprenticeship

This will all be documented in a commitment statement that’s part of the Apprenticeship Agreement. This is an individual learning plan that you, your training provider and employer all sign up to.