Apprenticeships after A levels

Would you like to start a career immediately after finishing your A levels? 

'Hell yes!' one would assume. 

Perhaps you should consider doing an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship is an opportunity for you to work, get qualifications and earn a salary - all at the same time. Read on for our expert guide to apprenticeships after A levels. 

What is a post A level apprenticeship? 

Apprenticeships after A levels are schemes which combine working in industry with academic study. An apprentice is employed on a full-time basis, and studies towards qualifications on the side.

In the past, apprenticeships have been associated with trade industries, such as construction or plumbing. Modern apprenticeships have been designed to provide school leavers with a pathway to a much wider-range of industries. Did you know, there are apprenticeships on offer from some of the UK's biggest law, banking and IT companies?

Modern apprenticeships offer school leavers an alternative option to university. If you are interested in a career as an accountant, an engineer or a role in the finance industry, an apprenticeship is an option to seriously consider. A degree is not the only route to your first job, or your desired career.

Apprentices gain nationally certified qualifications, get valuable and extensive work experience in an industry, and are paid a salary for the duration of the programme. The kids on the street are calling it the 'dream situation'.

If you're interested in a detailed overview of how apprenticeships work, and how you can apply for a scheme, read our Guide to Apprenticeships.

How do apprenticeships after A levels work? 

An apprentice splits their time between working with their company, and studying in a college or training centre. Apprentices benefit from on-the-job training as well as theoretical preparation.

Apprentices spend the high majority of their time with their employer - apprenticeships are work-heavy schemes. If you were to do an apprenticeship, you would be working with experienced professionals. Your highly experienced colleagues will ensure you have the knowledge and practical skills you need to perform in their field. You would be doing real and relevant work for your company during an apprenticeship; apprentices do not make the tea for the person who makes the coffee.

The academic side of an apprenticeship is spent in a college or training centre, in which you will work towards qualifications. We will cover which qualifications you could receive in greater detail in a moment. Some companies use an external training provider, others might keep the training in-house if they have the facilities to do so.

The structure of your apprenticeship will depend on the company you are working for. There are some schemes in which you will work for your employer for a set number of weeks or months, and then be released for study periods to attend college. Other schemes combine work and study on a weekly basis. You might spend four days in a week at work, and one day at college. You will be paid a salary for work and study periods!

Apprenticeships after A levels

If you have finished your A levels, there are two types of apprenticeship which are available to you... higher apprenticeships (level 4/5) or a degree apprenticeship (level 6/7).

What is a higher apprenticeship?

Higher apprenticeships, also called level 4 or level 5 apprenticeships, are schemes designed for school leavers aged 18 or above. These schemes last between three to four years, in which an apprentice performs an important role in an industry-leading company.

Higher apprentices work towards a Level 4 Competence Qualification, and a knowledge based qualification, (most probably a foundation degree, undergraduate degree or higher national diploma) in the field they are working in.

Here is a short video about IBM’s higher apprenticeship scheme. The apprentices explain why they applied for the scheme, and share the thoughts about what it is like to be a higher apprentice with one of the UK’s top employers.

Entry requirements

The minimum entry requirements for higher apprenticeships are two A levels, or an advanced apprenticeship in a relevant discipline. Click on the button below to see our vacancies for higher apprenticeships.

If you are considering applying for a higher apprenticeship, check out our career options guide: Higher Apprenticeships. Our marvellous guide has advice, reviews and job vacancies for higher apprenticeship schemes.

What is a degree apprenticeship? 

If we told you that you could get a tuition-free degree, 3-5 years of work experience in an industry and earn a salary at the same time, you would probably lose your mind.

School leavers across the UK are losing their minds and going absolutely berserk when they hear about degree apprenticeships. Degree apprentices work on a full-time basis for an employer, and study towards a bachelor's degree or master's degree on the side. These schemes last between three to five years.

Degree apprenticeships have been established through a collaboration between universities and the Tech Partnership. Companies that are a part of the Tech Partnership, including the BBC, Microsoft and National Grid, are investing in apprentices to build their workforce for the future.

The Chartered Management Institute surveyed over 1000 parents of 16-21 year olds, to find out there thoughts and opinions on degree apprenticeships.

  • ​81% of parents thought a degree apprenticeship would provide a better chance of getting a job than a standalone university degree.
  • 83% said they would consider doing a degree apprenticeship if they were 18 again.
  • 70% of parents thought a degree apprenticeship was better value for money than a traditional university degree.

Entry requirements

The entry requirements for degree apprenticeships vary from scheme to scheme. The requirements will depend on the company which employs the apprentice, and the field the apprenticeship is in. There are some employers which look for applicants with two or more A levels; there are schemes in which applicants need between 104-120 UCAS points; and others that will accept applicants with advanced level, or higher level apprenticeships.

Check out our full overview of Degree Apprenticeships for advice about applying for a scheme, and tips on how to find the programme which is perfect for you.