Careers – Apprenticeships and Traineeships

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Apprenticeships and Traineeships

What is an apprenticeship? 

An apprenticeship is a paid job where the employee learns and gains valuable experiences. 

Alongside on-the-job training, apprentices spend at least 20% of their working hours completing classroom-based learning with a college, university or training provider which leads to a nationally recognised qualification.  

An apprenticeship includes:  

  • paid employment with holiday leave  
  • hands-on-experience in a sector/role of interest 
  • at least 20% on-the-job training  
  • formal assessment which leads to a nationally recognised qualification 

Who can apply? 

An apprenticeship is a great paid work opportunity for people over the age of 16 in England who are: 

  • early in their career  
  • looking to upskill in their current job
  • looking for a career-change
  • not in full-time education 

Apprenticeship levels 

Different apprenticeship levels equate to different qualification levels. 

An apprenticeship can start at any level, but some may require: 

  • previous qualifications such as English or Math’s GCSEs  
  • additional training in English or Math’s to ensure the apprentice is at the right level  

One of the following qualification levels will be achieved depending on the apprenticeship level: 

Off-the-job training 

In England, it is a statutory requirement for an apprentice to spend 20% of their paid time ‘off-the-job’. This involves essential training to help the apprentice gain the skills needed to complete their apprenticeship.

Off-the-job training is delivered by subject experts and can include:  

  • teaching theory (e.g. classroom lessons, lectures, and online learning)
  • practical training (e.g. shadowing, mentoring, industry visits)
  • learning support and time to write assignments  

The training can take place in or out of the work environment. Some employers will offer in-house training, others may work with colleges, universities, and training providers to deliver the training for them.  

The training must equate to 20% of the overall contracted hours for the duration of the apprenticeship. It can be delivered flexibly, for example, as part of each day, once a week, or as a block release. 

The employer and the training provider will decide on the most appropriate model.  

Apprenticeship benefits 

Apprenticeships are an exciting paid option for anyone wanting to gain experience, upskill or change career because they offer the chance to earn a wage whilst they work and study.   

There are many benefits to completing an apprenticeship, which include: 

  • experience and skills development
  • a nationally recognised qualification (with no tuition fees)
  • employee benefits and a wage 
  • exposure to industry professionals  

What is a traineeship? 

Traineeships are a great option for young people aged between 16 and 24, who do not have the skills or experience to take on a job or apprenticeship. Traineeships act as a skills development programme, where you complete an unpaid work placement alongside a training course. They can last from 6 weeks up to 1 year, although most last up to 6 months, and are designed to help prepare you for work or an apprenticeship. 

How traineeships work  

The core elements of a traineeship include: 

  • completion of a quality work placement of at least 70 hours with a local employer 
  • training to ensure the trainee is equipped with the skills needed to succeed in the placement 
  • English, maths and digital support (where required)  
  • CV and application support  
  • an exit interview at the end of the placement which provides written feedback about the trainees performance 

The training provider will arrange a work placement with an employer, usually a minimum of 70 hours. The employer and training provider then work together to create an individual plan for the trainee, providing additional work preparation prior to the placement.  

Who can apply  

You can apply for a traineeship if you are: 

  • eligible to work in England
  • have little or no work experience but are motivated to work
  • aged 16 to 24
  • qualified up to level 3 

Traineeship benefits 

Traineeships offer great opportunities for young people who have little or no work experience. They can enhance your employability by providing guidance, skills, and experience in your chosen area of interest.  

Trainees will also gain:  

  • techniques in writing a CV and job applications 
  • an understanding of what it is like to work for an employer  
  • transferable skills and knowledge from other employees working in their sector of interest
  • increased confidence and self-esteem
  • valuable work experience in a supportive environment  
  • opportunities to interview for a permanent role if a vacancy becomes available  
  • an understanding of what employers are looking for  
  • an opportunity to improve literacy, numeracy and digital skills
  • valuable exit interview feedback to prepare for future job applications 

Future prospects for trainees 

Traineeships have proved to bridge the gap between education and employment for many young people.  

Research shows that:  

  • 66% of trainees progressed to positive destinations within 6 months  
  • 75% of trainees started further learning, employment or an apprenticeship within 12 months of starting a traineeship  
  • 83% of trainees found the programme helped improve their chances for the future