Understanding The Apprenticeship Process

In the world of education and employment, apprenticeships are an interesting middle ground that provides the best parts of learning on the job with a structured educational backbone that ensures apprentices will have the wider skills needed for a long term future in a particular industry.

From April 2020 to March 2021, over 7,800 people started an apprenticeship with the Civil Service, and by the end of the 2020/21 financial year, over 30,000 apprentices were currently working within the Civil Service alone.

Because of this, apprenticeships, themselves based on a concept that dates back millennia, can be seen as a way to prepare for the future by bringing in young employees who are passionate, willing to learn and help them develop for a career in their chosen field.

Because of this encompassing goal, an apprenticeship works quite differently to either a work induction or an academic course, although most apprenticeship providers will offer certification at the end of the apprenticeship period.

Here are some frequently asked questions about apprenticeships that can help employers understand how the process works and if it is the right fit for their business.

What Is An Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a real job, either full or part-time, which is undertaken whilst studying for a formal qualification. This includes not only spending one day a week at a training centre or local college but also building up your experience around your qualification.

How this takes place can vary, but one important aspect that makes an apprenticeship differ from a standard CPD arrangement is that the study programme is agreed upon in advance as part of an approved programme, and the work undertaken will result in a qualification that is nationally recognised and can be used to further a career.

What Kinds Of Qualifications Are Available?

As there are so many types of higher education certification available, an apprenticeship course will be designed around an appropriate course that fits an apprentice’s desired career path.

Because of this, the qualifications are rather diverse and can include:

  • Functional Skills Qualifications – Often shorter courses that provide the equivalent of GCSE qualifications in English, Maths and IT.
  • National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) – One of the most popular vocational courses, these can range in complexity from Level 2 (the same as five GCSE passes) to Level 5 (around the level of a Master’s Degree).
  • Technical Certification – Specialist qualifications designed for particular industries, this can include City And Guild Progression Awards and BTECs.
  • Academic Qualifications – Nationally and internationally recognised qualifications which include Higher National Certificates (Level 4), Higher National Diplomas (Level 5), foundation (first-year University degree) and Bachelors degree equivalents.

How Long Does An Apprenticeship Take?

This depends largely on the complexity of the course. Typically there are four levels of apprenticeship:

  • Intermediate – The shortest qualification worth five GCSE passes.
  • Advanced – Worth two A-level passes
  • Higher – Worth the same as a foundation degree
  • Degree – An integrated university degree, which can be either to Bachelors or Masters level depending on the course itself.

Some apprenticeships can be as short as six months, or as long as six years, but this will depend on the employer themselves, and will feature regular assessment during this time.