12 July 2023

Cost of Living – 5 Reasons Why Now Is The Best Time To Do an Apprenticeship

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Times are tough. With living costs off the charts, everyone’s feeling the pinch. If you’re thinking about going to university and wondering how on earth you’re going to be paying your way through it, it’s good to know you have options.

Did you know that you can do an apprenticeship and get yourself a degree – for free?! Read on to learn five reasons why now is the perfect time to do an apprenticeship.



Avoid student debt

University gives you some of the best years of your life. You’ll taste independence, make lasting friendships and brush up on your multitasking skills too. That said, it’s expensive. An average student graduates with £50,000 debt nowadays. * Insert crying emoji *.

Which is why you should look into apprenticeships. Degree ones to be precise. 

Degree apprenticeships leave you with zero debt as the government and your employer will cover your tuition fees for you. To top that off, you’ll receive a Bachelor’s degree and a salary, so you won’t need to take out any student loans either. How dreamy is that?

Student Loans

It’s also worth noting that the student loan repayment threshold is about to fall under a new Plan 5 scheme from September 2023. So for those of you heading off to university, you’ll need to start repaying your student loans once you earn £25,000 a year instead of the current £27,295. 

And for 40 years as opposed to 30 – meaning less time to save. Yikes.

See why we love apprenticeships so much? Lifesavers they are. Quite literally.


Get paid to learn

Apprenticeships are great as they allow you to earn while you learn – which in a cost of living crisis is the bee’s knees. As an apprentice, you’ll receive the National Minimum Wage and a mentor who’ll support you through your entire programme. So you’ll never feel alone.

Switching from education to work can be a huge shift, physically, mentally and emotionally. But apprenticeships bridge this gap, letting you study and work, making the transition easier. Real-time work experience is often the best teacher. And apprenticeships give you just that.



You can do an apprenticeship in anything and everything these days. Have a look through our industry guides to find the right scheme for you.

Browse Our Industry Guides


Access student discounts

One of the perks of going to university is all the student discounts you’ll get. Remember those Nike Air Force trainers you really wanted? They’re well within reach now. 

The same goes for apprenticeships. Just because you work doesn’t mean you won’t have access to discounts. You will. And plenty of them too. 

Apprentice Oyster Photocard

Travel is expensive. Yet we can’t really avoid it if we have to get from one side of the city to the next. So now’s the time for some bargain hunting. 

If you’re 18 or over, live in London and in the first year of your apprenticeship, you can apply for the apprentice oyster photocard and get 30% off adult-rate travelcards and bus & tram pass season tickets. 

Note that your card expires after 12 months. So if you’re changing apprenticeships or starting a fresh one altogether, you’ll need a new photocard.

NUS Apprentice Extra Card

Once you’ve bagged your apprenticeship, make sure to sign up for an NUS Apprentice Extra Card. It’s the only UK discount card for apprentices and will give you tons of discounts on over 200 high street and online retailers including Amazon, Boohoo, ASOS, Apple and Superdrug.

Not to mention driving lessons and car insurance too. It’s Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory here! 

How to apply

The card itself costs £11 and is valid for one year. To apply, you’ll need your email address, a recent photograph and the name of your apprenticeship provider. After that, you’re in. 

By the way, NUS Apprentice Extra has teamed up with TOTUM now to become TOTUM Apprentice. So browse away and find some top deals today.



Gain employee benefits

Did you know that apprentices get the same benefits as other employees? That’s because apprenticeships are real jobs with real perks. And we’re living for them.

Here are some benefits to look out for once you begin your career as an apprentice:

  • Holiday allowance – at least 20 days of holiday a year (plus bank holidays)
  • Statutory sick pay £99.35 a week after four days absence in a row
  • National Minimum Wage £5.28 an hour (increases each year in April) 

Universal Credit

As an apprentice, you’ll be able to claim universal credit too. You just need:

  • To be 18 or over
  • Living in England, Scotland or Wales
  • Provide evidence of your apprenticeship
  • Prove that you work at least 16 hours a week and have low income

You can apply for universal credit online or over the phone. Either way, you’ll need to give evidence of your income, savings and any other benefits you’re receiving.


Want to know what apprenticeships are really like? Read over 40,000 student written reviews to find a scheme and company that’s best for you.


Kick-start your career

Apprenticeships are a brilliant way to kick-start your career and get a taste of working life. With competition for entry level roles hotting up, an apprenticeship will give you an edge over university graduates who are just starting out. And boost your chance of a perm job too.

Also, if you begin your apprenticeship at 16, by 21 you could be on a £30,000 salary. And starting your dream online business at 23. See? Apprenticeships really do make a difference.


We hope you feel more confident about the options available to you.  Not only will you be well-placed in the job market, an apprenticeship gives you space to test-drive your passion and see if it’s the right fit.

And in a cost of living crisis, it’s always nice to figure this out sooner rather than later!