Apprentices earn a wage while they learn skills and gain qualifications. Learning is provided by a college or other learning providers, and an employer provides a full-time paid job in a real workplace.
Take action: Already know you want an apprenticeship? You can search for apprenticeships in Oxfordshire here on oxme, and also look for apprenticeships on the Government apprenticeship portal. Local FE Colleges also place apprentices, so contacting their apprenticeship teams is another way to find local apprenticeships.
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.
Who can get an apprenticeship?
Apprentices must be aged 16+. Some learning providers or companies will let you apply earlier, as long as you will be 16 by the time the apprenticeship starts. Anyone living in England, over 16 and not in full-time education can do an apprenticeship.
The training you receive as part of your apprenticeship is usually fully funded for younger applicants and those with fewer qualifications.
Apprenticeships can take between one and four years to complete, depending on the level of apprenticeship.
Crucial: If you're not ready for an apprenticeship, need work experience, or want to polish your skills, a traineeship can help you through the process - and support you to apply to an apprenticeship.
What about pay?
Apprentices receive a guaranteed minimum wage, but this rises after your first year, and many apprentices earn much more than that.
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 from Oxfordshire Apprenticeships, local Further Education Colleges and The National Apprenticeships Service.
Difficulties or disabilities
Helping young people with learning difficulties and disabilities access the benefits of an apprenticeship is a big priority for the government. There is support available for employers and learning providers to enable them to make the best offer to young people. If you have a learning difficulty or disability:
- The minimum requirements for English and Maths 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. If you are not sure what level you are at, local colleges and other organisations have programmes which can help check your skills and build your confidence to work.
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.
Find your apprenticeship
Apprenticeships can 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
Apprenticeships are available throughout the year, so it's possible to apply after your National Citizen Service programme, after you get your results, or even later. Plenty of apprenticeship programmes run throughout the year, and there are always opportunities available.
Crucial: You cannot start your apprenticeship until you are 16!
The Apprenticeship Finder
All apprenticeships should be advertised on the National Apprenticeship Finder. If you want to apply for a job you will need to register. After you register you can sign up for 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. But if you are making applications and not getting interviews, struggling to find opportunities, or need help to make applications, support is available:
- Get support from an adviser at your local Job Centre Plus.
- Get help from an EET Case worker (if you are aged 16-18 and NEET)
- Go to a young person's job club
- Do a traineeship
You can also find out how to apply for an apprenticeship using the National Apprenticeship Finder, and hear tips for success from other young people.
My Experience: "My aim has always been to work with animals and I decided to study Animal Management at Abingdon & Witney College. The animal care industry is difficult to get into, 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
Higher and degree apprenticeships combine work with study and may include a work-based, academic or combined qualification or a professional qualification relevant to the industry. Higher apprenticeships go from level 4 to 7 and are equivalent to a foundation degree and as well as providing a professional qualification. Degree apprenticeships are available at levels 6 and 7 and are equivalent to a bachelors or masters degree.
Instant expert: Find out all about Higher and Degree Apprenticeships in this guide from Which? University and the National Apprenticeship Service