Apprentices earn a wage while they learn skills and gain qualifications. Learning is provided by a learning provider, usually a college. The employer provides a full-time paid job in a workplace.
Apprenticeships are available at every level, from those which require few qualifications, to Advanced Apprenticeships which are like university courses.
Instant Expert: Read the government guide on how to Become an apprentice in the UK.
In Oxfordshire there are regular events to raise awareness of apprenticeships and an Apprenticeship Ambassador scheme to inspire young people to become apprentices.
Who can get an apprenticeship?
Apprentices must be aged 16+. You can apply earlier as long as you will be 16 by the time the apprenticeship starts.
Crucial: If you're not ready for an apprenticeship or need work experience, a traineeship may suit you better.
What about pay?
Apprentices receive at least a guaranteed minimum wage. But many apprenticeships pay much more. Wages rise after your first year and on completion of your apprenticeships.
Instant expert: Tell your parents all about apprenticeships with these resources for parents and guardians about apprenticeships and traineeships.
Can I change my job into an apprenticeship?
If you are aged under 18 and in work, it is best to also do training which leads to an accredited qualification. This is because learning is free for under 18s.
If your employer does not offer apprenticeships yet, they can get support to set them up. Your employer can contact Oxfordshire Apprenticeships, local Further Education Colleges or The National Apprenticeships Service.
Difficulties or disabilities
Support is available for employers and learning providers to help them make the best offer to young people.
If you have a learning difficulty or disability:
- The minimum requirements may be adjusted
- Your employer and/or provider may be able to get additional support
Many young people with difficulties and disabilities are ready for an apprenticeship, but for those not quite ready, Traineeships are a great option. Other opportunities such as supported internships may also be available.
Crucial: Your learning provider will always support you to achieve level 1 or 2 in Maths and English if you are capable of achieving this level.
If you are a young person who was previously in care (looked after) then your employer or provider may be able to get additional support. Make sure your Learning Provider knows if you are a Care Leaver.
When to apply
Apprenticeships start at any time of year, not just September. Apprenticeships are jobs, and many are only advertised for a few weeks. You need to check for vacancies often and apply quickly.
If you're planning on moving into an apprenticeship you can start early, and apply using predicted grades.
- Autumn Term - Research opportunities, sign up for alerts
- Spring Term - Some larger apprenticeship programmes are recruiting now
- Summer Term - Make applications for summer and September starts
Crucial: You cannot start your apprenticeship until you are 16!
The Apprenticeship Finder
Apprenticeships are advertised on the National Apprenticeship Finder. Register to apply for apprenticeships, get alerts for new jobs, and save your CV and application information.
There are also other ways to find apprenticeships. It is worth trying them all:
- Search for opportunities on Oxme
- Visit local job fairs and college open days
- Search for apprenticeships via your local FE college; many have dedicated apprenticeship portals, like Abingdon and Witney, Activate Apprenticeships and Bucks College Group
- Apply via local training providers - they provide the training and learning aspect of an apprenticeship, but also support young people to apply.
More support to apply
Sometimes it can take time to get your perfect apprenticeship. If you are making applications and not getting interviews, struggling to find opportunities, or need help to make applications, support is available from:
My Experience: "My aim has always been to work with animals. So when the opportunity to become a trainee dog groomer came along, I grabbed it with both hands. Judy has provided the practical skills training, and Haddon Training has delivered the theory training and assessment for the Advanced National Apprenticeship at Level 3, and doing the apprenticeship has helped me achieve my City & Guilds Level 3 Certificate in Dog Grooming really quickly.” - Lindsey
Higher and Degree Apprenticeships
After your first apprenticeship, or if you have other qualifications already, you can continue with higher and degree apprenticeships.
Instant expert: Find out all about Higher and Degree Apprenticeships in this guide from Which? University and the National Apprenticeship Service.
In this short video Apprenticeship Ambassador Ellie shares her top tips on finding and applying for Apprenticeships.