As a parent, you'll want your child to get the best possible start in their career.
There are many options available to young people after they leave school, which can be very confusing, so we've answered some common questions parents have about apprenticeships.
What is an Apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship is a genuine job, with training, meaning your child can earn while they learn!
Traditionally apprenticeships were thought of as the trades and hands-on skilled industries, but there is a growing portfolio of programmes available which can take a candidate through to degree level.
At Shrewsbury Colleges Group, we cover a diverse range of industries so whether it’s construction, hair and beauty, engineering or professional business services - there is something for everyone.
If your son/daughter is looking for a specialist apprenticeship, then the Institute for Apprenticeships gives details of all the apprenticeship programmes, known as Standards, on their website.
How does the school leaving age effect being an apprentice?
The Government has stated that all young people must stay in some form of education or training until at least their 18th birthday. This does not necessarily mean staying in school as young people have a choice about how they continue in education or training post 16, which includes becoming an apprentice.
What are the entry requirements for an apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships are available to anyone over the age of 16, living in England. Entry requirements depend on the sector and job and details of these will be included in the factsheets for each apprenticeship.
Please note that some apprenticeships we deliver at Shrewsbury Colleges Group only start at Level 3 and gaining GCSE English and maths at grade 4/C or above is an essential entry requirement.
What are the benefits of your child doing an apprenticeship?
There are many benefits to doing an apprenticeship, aside from the formal training your son/daughter will receive. They will also gain experience in the world of work and build their skills and knowledge which are invaluable steppingstones to permanent employment and promotions. It can provide routes for personal development and higher education as well.
They will be in a real work environment and gaining first-hand experience of customers, colleagues, and the expectations of being a team member.
They will learn practical skills such as learning how we earn money, the routine of getting up every morning, earning their time off and building workplace relationships which are all part of the apprenticeship.
We will all remember our first jobs, part-time or otherwise, and how the people we met and worked with were helping hands in the life lessons we learned in our initial step on the career ladder. Apprenticeships offer the same experiences.
An apprenticeship is a real job – all apprentices receive a contract of employment; staff pay and all the associated benefits including:
- Earning a salary
- Paid annual leave
- Excellent progression opportunities, whether looking to study further or climb the ranks within the workplace
- Increased future earning potential – apprentices enjoy marked salary increases on finishing their training and those completing a higher apprenticeship could see increased earnings of an estimated £150,000 over their lifetime.*
Is there any other financial support available for apprentices?
What an apprentice is paid by their employer is their only income. Some apprentices have a second part-time job at the weekend, as many full-time college students do, but their apprenticeship must take priority over any other paid work. All apprentices are classed as being in full-time education and are students – so these benefits are worth exploring with them:
- An NUS Apprentice Extra Card which costs £11 per year but provides apprentices with massive discounts with high street and online retailers
- A variety of travel discounts
- Apprentices aged 16-25 can apply for a railcard saving up to a third on train fees.
What does an Apprentice get paid?
• The minimum wage for apprentices is £4.30 per hour, but many employers pay more than this. This is dependent on the sector, location, and apprenticeship level
• More details on salaries and entry criteria in specific apprenticeship occupations can be accessed by looking at the vacancies on ‘Find an apprenticeship’.
What kind of apprenticeships are available at Shrewsbury Colleges Group?
What levels of apprenticeships are available and what do they mean?
There are various levels of apprenticeships to apply for, depending on the candidate’s current skills and qualifications. Some industries require all new candidates to start at Level 2 regardless of how high a qualification they have previously attained.
For example, Hairdressing. Other industries only start straight in at Level 3 so would have entry requirements based on previous qualifications or experience.
Apprenticeships have equivalent educational attainment levels, as well as equivalent workplace behaviours and responsibilities:
Equivalent educational level
Associated Workplace behaviours or responsibilities
5 GCSE passes at Grades A*– C or 9 – 4
Team member – works under direction, and is supervised in all their work. Responsibility for their own workload.
2 A level passes
Team member – often encouraged to contribute ideas, work using own initiative and hit the ground running with more basic tasks.
4, 5, 6 and 7
Foundation degree and above
Team Leader/ first line manager role – if no personnel responsibility, there would often be responsibility for an area of resource within the business e.g. Finance or Marketing
6 and 7
Bachelor’s or master’s degree
Manager – Senior Manager – Company owner, with responsibility for staff and areas of resource, financial budgets.
How are apprenticeships delivered?
All apprenticeships include elements of on-the-job and off-the-job training. In fact, 20% of your son/daughter’s working week should be off-the-job training. For most apprentices, this will mean a day at college, plus a mix of shadowing, workplace training, distance learning, reading and research.
All apprentices are paid for any time they are in training or at college, so with this in mind, college attendance is equally as important as attending work. College attendance reports are shared with all employers.
There will be short blocks of attendance for English and maths for those without grade 4 at GCSE.
How is the apprenticeship assessed?
An apprentice is assigned a named assessor who will set targets for achieving the apprenticeship and schedule reviews to check on progress. Throughout the programme, apprentices will progress by completing:
- A variety of practical assessments and observations in the workplace
- Discussions that confirm knowledge has been gained
- Exams in some subject areas
All apprenticeships involve an independent End Point Assessment (EPA). College staff prepare the apprentices for this assessment, where an external examiner will mark their knowledge skills and behaviours, to assess the apprentice`s ability and competence in their job role, demonstrating everything learnt. These are graded with a Pass, Merit or Distinction.
Do all Apprenticeships start in September at Shrewsbury Colleges Group?
No, employers are looking for apprentices all year round although summer is a busy time for recruitment. A lot of our programmes do run to term time though, so it's important that your son/daughter gets on a full-time course if they don’t have an employer lined up for September. This way they don’t miss out on any work and can transfer to an apprenticeship later in the term without any catch-up.
What happens at the end of the apprenticeship?
In some areas, there are opportunities to progress to the next level with the same or different employer or get a permanent contract as most of our apprentices do.
How long does it take to achieve an apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship takes anything from 12 months to four years. Each apprenticeship has an agreed length of study and completion. This will depend on the level as well as previous experience and qualifications.
What will an apprenticeship cost?
Training is funded for an apprentice by the Government and their employer; however, travel costs need to be paid to attend both college and work.
How do you apply for an apprenticeship?
There are between 12,000 – 20,000 apprenticeship vacancies available online in a variety of careers and industries across England. Visit the Government’s apprenticeship webpage where you can search by keyword (job role, occupation type or apprenticeship level) and by location.
Once the right job comes up, your son/daughter can simply register on the website and follow the step-by-step instructions to apply for the role.
Visit our YouTube channel for useful hints and tips on applying, plus other videos on apprenticeships.
How can I best help my son/daughter in finding an apprenticeship?
Applying for apprenticeships can be time-consuming and disheartening, so help your young person with this process. Encourage them to get you to proofread their applications and CVs, practice interview-style questions and help them feel confident in answering these in full about themselves.
We all want the best, and sometimes the temptation is for you to make calls or send emails on their behalf – and as much as we are here to support you too – it is much easier to place candidates in the right environment when they communicate with us directly.
Another learning curve is your son/daughter getting used to answering unknown numbers calling their mobiles, which could be us or their new employers. Checking voicemails, emails and answering their mobiles is a very important skill to learn as they transition into the adult world of work.
How can I tell what is a good apprenticeship?
Look out for a job role that is varied, has staff benefits, extra training opportunities as well as progression opportunities. All of these show the employer is looking to invest in the apprentice to develop them personally and professionally.
What happens if my son/daughter hasn’t got an employer?
Firstly, the applicant should still complete the application form online and we will process the application, inviting them to attend an interview for a full-time course in that subject area.
Many employers prefer to work with students recommended by the college and it’s easy to transfer from a course to an apprenticeship once an employer has been found. This can be done at any point in the year.
Secondly, get your son/daughter to talk to people they know about what they would like to achieve. Lots of opportunities are not advertised and it isn’t uncommon for friends' parents, uncles, teachers, and family friends to have heard of opportunities that they can connect your son/daughter with. There is also a lot to be said for putting together a good CV and making contact directly with businesses. It demonstrates initiative and shows that students are keen.
What can I do if my son/daughter has an issue in the workplace?
All apprentices will receive the contact details of our safeguarding team, so any emergency issues should be reported to them. Any day-to-day issues should be raised immediately with their assessor or us at the business support team.
We always encourage the employer and the apprentice to try and resolve any issues between themselves at first, but we are here for support and advice too in case we need to get involved.
What if my son/daughter has an EHCP?
Recent legislation has come into effect which changes the minimum English and maths requirements needed to complete an apprenticeship for people with a learning difficulty or disability. The changes will lower the English and maths requirements for these apprentices to a level that is suitable for their abilities.
A Disability Confident Employer will generally offer an interview to any applicant that declares they have a disability and meets the minimum criteria as defined by the employer.