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How apprenticeships work
On an apprenticeship, you're employed to do a real job while studying for a formal qualification, usually for one day a week either at a college or training centre. By the end of your apprenticeship, you'll hopefully have gained the skills and knowledge needed to either succeed in your chosen career or progress onto the next apprenticeship level.
What you'll learn depends on the role that you're training for. However, apprentices in every role follow an approved study programme, which means you'll gain a nationally-recognised qualification at the end of your apprenticeship.
You'll also be constantly developing your transferable skills, otherwise known as soft skills, which are highly valued by employers. These include communication, teamwork and problem solving, as well as knowledge of IT and the application of numbers.
Types of apprenticeships
Most job sectors offer apprenticeship opportunities in the UK, with a wide range of specific roles on offer within each. These include:
- Accounting in areas such as bills and expenses, payroll and taxes, plus banking
- Business in roles such as business administration and development, consultancy and leadership
- Construction in roles such as building, plumbing and quantity surveying
- Engineering in roles such as civil, mechanical and electrical engineering
- Healthcare such as dental and nursing
- IT in roles such as information security and software development
- Law offered at paralegal, legal executive or solicitor level
- Marketing in roles such as digital marketing, social media and public relations (PR)
- Media in areas such as TV, radio and film production
You'll be able to enter your chosen sector at an apprenticeship level that reflects your previous qualifications and the demands of the role.
The difference between an apprenticeship and an internship
The terms 'apprenticeship' and 'internship' are sometimes mistakenly used interchangeably. To ensure you're applying for the right positions, it's important to understand the differences between these opportunities.
- formal employment programmes and as such you'll sign a contract with your employer
- long-term and take between one to four years to complete
- more suited to those with a clear idea of what sector they'd like to work in and what career path they'd like to follow
- commonly undertaken by school leavers
- designed to provide specific work-based training. Apprentices learn by actually doing the job
- a way for apprentices to gain formal qualifications such as NVQs, foundation degrees and technical certificates
- paid, as at the very least you'll receive the National Minimum Wage
- a direct route to employment, with the majority of apprentices guaranteed a job on completion of their programme.
- informal arrangements as more often than not no employment contracts are signed
- short-term, limited periods lasting between one week and 12 months
- geared towards providing an insight to those who may be unsure of what career direction to take
- typically undertaken by students and graduates
- work-based learning opportunities, which focus more on supplying interns with transferrable skills and experience for their CV rather than job-specific skills or formal qualifications
- temporary, with no guarantee of employment on completion