Apprenticeships for 16 year olds

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If you are 16 years old and you have finished, or you are still finishing your GCSEs, this is quite possibly the most important blog you will ever read.

Why, you ask?

More and more young people are taking the apprenticeship route after they leave school. In fact, over 509,000 school leavers chose to do an apprenticeship last year. We are here to explain why so many of your chums are taking this path.

This is our expert guide to apprenticeships for 16 year olds. Read on to find out which apprenticeships are available to you, how they work, and why you simply have to apply.

We'll even show you how to write a CV and cover letter for apprenticeship applications!

This truly is the most important blog you will ever read.

What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are school leaver schemes which are designed for career-ready young people aged 16 or above. These schemes combine real-work with academic study. Apprentices receive substantial on-the-job training, and work towards nationally certified qualifications.

Modern apprenticeships offer an alternative route for school leavers to get into work or higher education. While the majority of 16 year olds choose the sixth form/college and university route after their GCSEs, not all careers require A-levels and a degree.

Apprenticeships used to be associated with trade industries, hard hats and hi-viz jackets. No more.

There are now apprenticeships on offer in a wide-range of industries, in locations across the UK. Did you know, there are apprenticeships available in law, engineering and banking?

An apprenticeship is an opportunity for you to enter the world of work, to earn a salary and get great qualifications. What's not to love?

If you're interested in a more in-depth overview of apprenticeship schemes, check out our Guide to Apprenticeships

How do apprenticeships for 16 year olds work?

Apprentices split their time between the workplace, and a training centre or college.

In the workplace, an apprentice will work and learn from experienced professionals from an industry. It is here that an apprentice will develop the practical skills and knowledge required to perform a particular role within a company.

The theoretical aspects of an apprenticeship are covered at a college or training centre. Some employers use internal training facilities; if the apprenticeship is with a smaller company, the employer is likely to use an external training provider.

The organisation of an apprenticeship will also depend on the employer. Some programmes are structured so that an apprentice will spend four days in a week at work, and one day at college. Other employers will retain an apprentice for weeks or months at a time, and then send them to college for an extended study period.

However an apprenticeship is structured, it is important to note, an apprentice spends the majority of their time in the workplace. An apprenticeship is very much like a full-time job. Apprentices are expected to work for at least thirty hours a week. They are treated like a permanent employee, receiving a salary, holidays and other benefits.

If you are ready to take the next step after your GCSEs, an apprenticeship is an option to seriously consider. An apprenticeship is an opportunity to earn and learn at the same. If you want to continue with your education, an apprenticeship will give you the opportunity to gain widely-respected qualifications, and get valuable work experience too!

apprenticeships for 16 year olds


Before we specify which schemes are available to 16 year olds, it is time to allay some fears, and address some preconceptions about apprenticeships and the school-leaver job market...


Apprenticeships are for tradespeople. 


Modern apprenticeships have been revolutionised in recent years. 


You can now do apprenticeships in an exciting range of industries, from accounting and finance, to pharmaceuticals and engineering. As apprenticeships have increased in popularity, other programmes like sponsored degrees and degree apprenticeships have developed. 

Do you know how to write a CV for an apprenticeship application? Check out our splendid blog, A Guide to Writing an Apprenticeship CV, you are but seven steps away from writing a CV that screams 'employ me!'


Those who go to university are always better off than those who don't.


Many apprenticeships fast-track your career, so you qualify more quickly than a graduate. 


For careers in many different industries, university isn't always the fastest route in. Some programmes for school leavers will fast-track your career, meaning you would qualify faster than a graduate. In fact, a study by the Sutton Trust suggests that higher apprentices can expect to earn more during their careers than most graduates. 


University degrees are needed for most jobs. 


59% of graduates are in non-graduate level roles.  


Not long ago, if you headed to university, you were considered to be at an advantage to those who had not. No more. The UK now has more graduates than it has graduate jobs. Inevitably, this leaves many graduates in non-graduate level jobs. For school leavers not going doing their A-levels and eventually going to university, there are programmes that have been designed to train them for highly-skilled professions.

Apprenticeships for 16 year olds

There are two types of apprenticeships which are available to 16 year olds, intermediate apprenticeships and advanced apprenticeships. Below is a short overview of both of these types of apprenticeship, including information about the entry requirements and the qualifications involved. Before that, we will reveal which industries you can do an apprenticeship in.

RateMyApprenticeship has vacancies for apprenticeships with some of the UK's top employers, in the following core industries:

  • Accountancy & Finance
  • Banking
  • Business
  • Engineering
  • Events
  • FMCG & Retail
  • Health, Science and Pharmaceuticals
  • IT, Technology and Telecommunications
  • Legal and Law
  • Leisure, Tourism and Hospitality
  • Social Care

At this very moment, there are apprenticeship frameworks for 1,500 roles, in more than 170 different industries. Whatever field you are keen to work in, and wherever you are located in the UK, there is certain to be an apprenticeship available near you.

Intermediate Apprenticeships

Intermediate apprenticeships, also called level two apprenticeships, are the first level of the modern apprenticeship. Level two apprenticeships are the most popular type of apprenticeship, in 2015/16, there were 291,330 intermediate apprenticeship starts.

These schemes can last anywhere between 12-18 months, and combine working in industry with studying towards qualifications.

Entry Requirements

For intermediate apprenticeships, employers look for applicants with two or more GCSEs (9-4), preferably with passes in English and Maths. There are some employers who accept applicants without the sufficient grades, if they have relevant work experience, or if they have shown a passion for the scheme.

In addition, there is a second pathway for school leavers who do not have the grades to qualify for an intermediate apprenticeship - a traineeship! Traineeships are flexible education programmes, designed for students who leave school without the skills for an apprenticeship. Traineeships can last up to 6 months, and focus on improving literacy and numeracy skills.

Click here to read our guide to traineeships.

What qualifications will I receive?

If you complete an intermediate apprenticeship, you will be awarded with...

  • a knowledge based qualification (such as a BTEC or National Vocational Qualification)
  • and a Level 2 Competence Qualification

These qualifications are equivalent to 5 GCSE passes, and will qualify you for an advanced apprenticeship (if you wish to continue up the apprenticeship ladder). 

For a more detailed overview of intermediate apprenticeships , check out our dramatic Guide to Intermediate Apprenticeships

apprenticeships for 16 year olds

Advanced Apprenticeships

Advanced apprenticeships, also called level three apprenticeships, are the step above intermediate apprenticeships. They are the second type of apprenticeships available to 16 year olds. In 2015/16, there were 190,870 school leavers who started an advanced apprenticeship.

Similar to level two apprenticeships, advanced apprenticeships last between 12-18 months, in which the apprentice will split their time between full-time work and attending a college/training centre.

Entry Requirements

The entry requirements for advanced apprenticeships can vary from company to company, but employers generally look for applicants with...

  • 5 GCSEs (9-4)
  • or an intermediate apprenticeship

What qualifications will I receive?

As well as great work experience and a marvellous salary, advanced apprentices are awarded with:

  • Level 3 Competence Qualification
  • knowledge based qualification

These qualifications equate to two A level passes, and will qualify you for a higher apprenticeship. It's a dream.

If you are interested in a more in-depth overview of advanced apprenticeships, read our thrilling Guide to Advanced Apprenticeships

Apprenticeship Salaries

All apprenticeships for 16 year olds pay a salary for the duration of the scheme. Salaries differ from company to company, so it's best to check the information listed in job vacancies for specific figures.

You will often find an apprenticeship salary described as 'competitive'. A competitive salary means that an employer will pay you at the market rate for a scheme. To put it another way, you will be paid the rate of a similar apprenticeship.

Check the salary information for previous apprenticeships offered by the company you are applying to, and similar apprenticeships offered by their competitors. RateMyApprenticeship's reviews are a great resource for comparing what different companies pay their apprentices.

Reviews of apprenticeships for 16 year olds

RateMyApprenticeship has over 15,000 reviews of school leaver schemes and apprenticeships for 16 year olds. It's what we do... rate apprenticeships. Or, to be more precise, we give you a platform to rate, to give your opinion and your advice about the apprenticeships and companies you work for.

Each review is written by a fully qualified apprentice, or an apprentice who is yet to finish their scheme. The reviews are unedited, to ensure that each entry is an honest and insightful representation of an apprentice's experience. If you are considering applying for an apprenticeship in a certain industry, or company, our reviews are a must-read!

The reviews delve into the structure and content of an apprenticeship, the support received from the employer, salary, benefits and the opportunities available outside of work.

Go mad, and read all 15,000 of our reviews of school leaver schemes. Click here to begin.

Why should I do an apprenticeship?

So it's finally dawned on you - apprenticeships are the best thing to happen to 16 year olds since the release of Toy Story 3. Here is why...

GREAT QUALIFICATIONS   If you do an intermediate or an advanced apprenticeship, you will be awarded with qualifications which are nationally certified and widely respected. These qualifications are gained through a combination of theoretical and practical training, so that apprentices are equipped with all the skills required for work.

WORKING WITH EXPERIENCED PROFESSIONALS   Apprentices have the opportunity to learn from, and work with experienced professionals in a wide-range of fields. Almost all apprentices are given a mentor at the beginning of the scheme. A mentor will be an experienced member of staff, who is charged with guiding you through your apprenticeship. On top of this, the colleagues you meet during an apprenticeship could be valuable contacts to have for your future career.

ARRAY OF SCHEMES   There is a fantastic range of apprenticeships for 16 year olds on offer. Schemes are available in an array of fields, in locations across the UK.

PATHWAY TO HIGHER EDUCATION   Apprenticeships for 16 year olds are a pathway to higher education. If you complete an advanced level apprenticeship, you will qualify for a higher apprenticeship, and eventually, a university degree or degree apprenticeship.

SMASHING SALARY!   All apprentices are paid a smashing salary for the duration of their scheme. Apprenticeships for 16 year olds are an opportunity to earn and learn at the same time! Moreover, there are no fees to pay for apprentices under the age of 19.

JOB OFFER AT THE END   71% of apprentices continue to work for their employer after their apprenticeship has ended. If you choose to do an apprenticeship after you finish your GCSEs, you will be getting onto the career ladder immediately. There is a great chance you will be offered a permanent position by your employer.

READY FOR WORK   Even if you are not offered a permanent position at the end of your apprenticeship, you will be work-ready. Apprentices are highly employable; the practical skills and qualifications an apprenticeship will provide you with will make you ready for work before you've hit 21! Furthermore, employers design apprenticeships to impart job-specific skills. Apprentices have a fantastic chance of securing a permanent job, or starting a career, because they have been specifically trained to fill a role, or a position within a company.