5 September 2023

Apprenticeships for 16 Year Olds

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

You may be considering your options now and wondering whether to remain in education or take the plunge and do something completely different. But if you prefer to learn hands-on and are ready to enter the workforce, apprenticeships could be the perfect path for you.

This is your one-stop guide to apprenticeships for 16 year olds, where we bust apprenticeship myths and break down the different types of apprenticeships available to you…

Can a 16 year old get an apprenticeship?

Of course – you can get an apprenticeship at 16! In fact, apprenticeships are school leaver programmes specifically designed for career-ready people aged 16 and above.

These schemes combine real work with academic study. As an apprentice, you’ll receive substantial on-the-job training and work towards nationally certified qualifications.

Apprenticeships offer an alternative route into work or higher education. While loads of 16 year olds choose the sixth form/college and university route after GCSEs, not all careers require A-Levels and a degree.

Are apprenticeships only available in trade?

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.

You can do an apprenticeship in everything from law to engineering and banking. The choice is immense. On top of that, apprentices earn a real wage. That’s right. Cash monies, every month, direct into your bank account. More on that later.

“I’ve learnt so many new skills since starting my apprenticeship, from basic skills such as using Excel to being able to manage social media content that increases consumer engagement. I’ve also learnt how to manage my calendar more effectively, which I’ll be able to take into any role in the future.”

Level 3 Apprentice & Beauty Marketing Associate at Unilever

Read our guide to Apprenticeship Schemes for more insider info.

How do apprenticeships for 16 year olds work?

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


You’ll work and learn from experienced professionals in an industry, developing the practical skills and knowledge required to perform a particular role within a company.

Training centre/college

The academic 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.

How is your time split?

This depends on the employer.

Some programmes are structured so that an apprentice spends four days 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.

Meet some of Amazon’s current apprentices and find out what it’s like to work for the world’s largest eCommerce group.

Are you a parent? Head over to our ParentsHub, a dedicated space full of comprehensive resources to support your child.

What are the best apprenticeships for 16 year olds?

With apprenticeships available in everything from construction to production, whether you are hoping to become the next Richard Branson or invent mind-blowing tech gadgets, the options are limitless.

Some industries where you can do an apprenticeship include…

In all of these industries, there are TWO types of apprenticeships available for 16 year old school leavers…

Level 2 Apprenticeships (Intermediate)

Level 2 apprenticeships are the first step on the apprenticeship ladder. They are the perfect option for any 16 year old who has either two GCSEs graded at 9 to 4 (A* to C), a traineeship or recent work experience and wants to kick start their career.

All Level 2 apprentices work towards qualifications equivalent to five GCSEs. As a Level 2 apprentice, you will also get paid a full-time wage for the duration of the programme, so you can begin saving up for your first car or holiday with your friends!

What if you don’t have the grades?

If you don’t have the grades or experience needed for a Level 2 apprenticeship, you still have options. Find out more about getting an apprenticeship without GCSEs.

How long do level 2 apprenticeships take?

Level 2 apprenticeships typically take 12-24 months to complete and allow you to continue on to a Level 3 apprenticeship, a BTEC or even full-time employment.

Here’s an example of an intermediate apprenticeship…

Contact Centre Apprenticeship

Scheme length: 18 months

Salary: £20,205

Level 3 Apprenticeships (Advanced)

Level 3 apprenticeships are a step up from Level 2 apprenticeships and are designed for those who already have a Level 2 apprenticeship under their belt or five GCSEs graded at 9 to 4 (A* to C).

Level 3 apprentices work towards qualifications equivalent to two A-Levels. You will also earn a wage throughout the programme and be eligible for full-time employment or to continue on to a Level 4 Apprenticeship.

Here’s an example of an advanced apprenticeship…

Commercial Support Apprenticeship

Scheme length: 18 months

Salary: £20,500

Highest paid apprenticeships

How many hours can a 16 year old work on an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a real job, so apprentices normally work for a minimum of 30 hours per week. Sometimes these hours can be reduced depending on the scheme and if the apprenticeship is extended for any reason.

Apprenticeships are full-time. However, you can do a part-time apprenticeship if you have other commitments. This can include…

  • If you’re a carer
  • If you have a disability
  • If you’re a young person leaving the care system.

If you do become a part-time apprentice, you’ll be working for a minimum of 16 hours per week.

How much does a 16 year old apprentice get paid in the UK?

All apprenticeships for 16 year olds pay a salary for the duration of the scheme.

The current National Minimum Wage for an earning 16 year old is £5.28 an hour.

But you’ll be pleased to know that lots of employers pay much more. Salaries for level 2 apprenticeships can range between £12,000 and £21,000 a year.

And a level 3 apprentice can earn between £12,000 and £25,000. So there are plenty of opportunities to save for that really cool thingamajig you wanted.

How much you earn depends on the role and company, so it pays (literally) to do your research. Don’t be completely led by money, though.

Myth-busting the apprenticeship

There are so many preconceptions about apprenticeships that you may or may not have heard. We don’t do rumours, so let’s dispel some myths.

Those who go to university are always better off than those who don’t.University degrees are needed for most jobs.Apprenticeships are for tradespeople.

Many apprenticeships fast-track your career, so you qualify more quickly than a graduate. Apprenticeships also give you the qualifications to apply for university or even a degree apprenticeship, which allows you to earn a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree for free!

The UK now has more graduates than graduate jobs, so doing an apprenticeship will give you a step up on the career ladder and help you beat the competition.

Apprenticeships have been revolutionised in recent years, and you can now find schemes in an exciting range of industries; from accounting and finance to pharmaceuticals, nursing and engineering.

Heard some more rumours? Read more about how wrong they are.