What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a three-way arrangement between an employer, an apprentice and a training provider that combines on-the-job training and formal study to develop skills, experience and qualifications. It provides the chance to 'earn while you learn' in jobs and sectors as diverse as accounting, construction, engineering and floristry (visit the GOV.UK website for detailed information on the wide range of apprenticeships available).

To be eligible to apply for an apprenticeship, you need to be aged 16-24 and not in full-time education.

Apprenticeships take from one to five years to complete, depending on the level. There are currently three apprenticeship schemes: the Intermediate Level Apprenticeship (NVQ or SVQ Level 2), the Advanced Level Apprenticeship (Level 3), and the Higher and Degree Level Apprenticeship (Level 4 or above).

As well as a vocational qualification, apprentices gain Key Skills qualifications and, in most cases, a technical certificate such as a BTEC or City & Guilds.

If you have been unsuccessful when applying for an apprenticeship due to a lack of skills and experience, you might be eligible for a traineeship. 

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.