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Apprenticeships Explained

Regardless of whether you’re just leaving school and looking for your first job, or already working and want to try something new, an apprenticeship is a great way to gain a nationally recognised qualification whilst also earning.

You will be working alongside existing experienced staff and learn your skills ‘on the job’ in addition to being assessed by industry professionals, many of whom have enjoyed successful careers in the sectors they now teach.

How do I become an apprentice?

You will need to be employed within the industry for at least 30 hours a week and have a genuine interest in the work that you do. Anyone can be an apprentice, as long as you are over 16 years old, a UK resident and not taking part in full-time education. Although previous qualifications such as GCSEs are desirable, they are not essential.

There is no set rate of pay for apprentices, with wages varying according to the employer, but this wage will not be below the national minimum wage guidelines. You will also benefit from at least 20 days of paid holiday per year, plus bank holidays. Research shows that apprentices earn, on average, around £77,000 more over their lifetime than other employees, and this figure rises to £117,000 for those who have completed an Advanced Level apprenticeship – you’ll also be more employable than those who leave education without these qualifications.

Apprenticeships are designed with the help of industry. This means they offer a structured programme which is relevant to the job you’re doing and will give you the skills you need to do it well. Most of your learning will be ‘on the job’ with an assessor from the College coming to visit your place of work to check the practical skills you have learnt. There may be a requirement to visit West Kent College from time to time for specific elements, but this will be kept to a minimum.

Your apprenticeship will also include:
  • The main qualification
  • Personal learning and thinking skills
  • Functional skills (English and Maths)
  • First aid at work
  • Employee Rights and Responsibilities workbook

Apprenticeships offer a lot of choices in your career and, because they give you the skills which employers want, they can also be incredibly rewarding. Successful completion of an intermediate and advanced apprenticeship will give you valuable credits which can be used against future HNC, foundation degree or honours degree programmes.