Earning and learning

Earning and learning

Apprenticeships are a great option for getting on the job ladder and earning a wage while you train, writes Keith Smith, director of apprenticeships at the Education and Skills Funding Agency

Over recent years, apprenticeships have changed to better meet the needs of apprentices and employers alike. Apprenticeships work for employers. They were involved in the design of new high-quality apprenticeships and the changes to how apprenticeships are funded—resulting in the system providing long term, sustainable opportunities for all. For apprentices, apprenticeships now last longer, are of higher quality and mean more off-the-job training than ever before.

An apprenticeship is a real job, with hands-on experience, a salary and the chance to train while in work and earning. Becoming an apprentice is an opportunity to fulfil career ambitions in a real work environment, developing competence in a specific occupation and enabling everyone in that role to work at a consistent high standard.

Apprentices are treated just like all the other employees they work alongside, with a contract of employment and paid holiday leave.

Keith Smith, Apprenticeship Group

Keith Smith, director of the apprenticeships group at the Education and Skills Funding Agency

Anyone aged 16 or over can become an apprentice. There is no upper age limit, so we are seeing more and more individuals start their career, change career, or return to the workplace as an apprentice. New apprenticeship standards are available all the time, in a broad range of occupations, including manufacturing engineer, clinical practitioner and architect, and ranging from a level 3 live event technician to a degree level 7 chartered town planner. There really is an apprenticeship for everybody and the variety and richness of apprenticeships on offer means they are becoming a more appealing option for individuals and employers alike.

There are lots of benefits to being an apprentice, from earning a wage and training at the same time, with at least 20% of your time spent in ‘off the job’ training—often at a college, university or with a training provider. Apprentices benefit from receiving the training, needed by industry, whilst being on the career path of choice. The future potential for apprentices looks good too—with 90% of apprentices staying on in their place of work after completing their apprenticeship.

An apprenticeship can take between one and six years to complete, depending on the apprenticeship of choice, the level of apprenticeship and any previous experience an apprentice brings. There are many, many different apprenticeships available all over England, at companies large and small, in a wide range of industries, from local organisations to large national brands.

Completing an apprenticeship not only means apprentices have earned and learned, but apprenticeships are a great option for getting on the job ladder and progressing into management and senior positions. Apprenticeships have a real return for the apprentice, including increased earning potential. We know from research that an apprentice on a higher level apprenticeship can earn £150,000 more on average over their lifetime compared with those with a level 3 vocational qualification.

For those individuals considering an apprenticeship, it is important to remember that apprentices give employers the skills they need and they impact significantly on their return on investment. We know through research that adult apprentices, working at level 3, deliver £28 of economic benefits respectively for each pound of investment.

To realise the potential apprenticeships bring, our national campaign ‘Fire It Up’, launched in January 2019 and showcases real apprentices in exciting roles. These apprentices have been celebrated on TV, in the media and across social channels, and are true examples of the opportunities brought by apprenticeships. From Hosanna, working in technical theatre, Alim working in social media and Ella working in operations, they all have their own story to tell. But what they do have in common is using an apprenticeship to fire up their careers and to take them on the road to future success.

Every year we host the National Apprenticeship Awards. The awards see apprentices, apprentice employers and those who champion apprenticeships across England get the recognition they deserve. Award-winning apprentices show the impact of a good quality apprenticeship and the difference it can make to the lives of individuals, employers and the wider community.

Apprenticeships are the way for individuals to reach their potential.