Modern Apprenticeships

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There is a new craze. No, Pokemon cards have not made a revival. Neither has Peter Andre made his long awaited return to the UK pop scene. 

The British public are going mad for modern apprenticeships

​More and more young people in the UK are choosing to do apprenticeships as an alternative to doing A levels or going to university. 

'That's fascinating,' you say, 'tell us more...'


What are modern apprenticeships?

Students, teachers and parents alike are often confused by the term 'modern apprenticeships'. 

'What are they?

'I haven't got a clue Suzie.'

​Let us explain. 'Modern apprenticeships' is the official term given to apprenticeships in Scotland. If you happen to live in Aberdeen, and you have a job that involves work-based training, that scheme is called a modern apprenticeship.

In the rest of the UK, the term describes all types apprenticeship schemes that have been designed for 16-24 year olds. This includes programmes in a crazy range of industries, for young people at different educational levels. 

​Apprenticeships have been traditionally associated with electricians, plumbers and other trade industries.

​There are now apprenticeship schemes available in industries like banking, law and IT. Some of the UK's biggest companies - including Deloitte, IBM and Microsoft - are offering work-based, training schemes to school and college leavers.

Apprentices were considered to be young, unskilled workers, and not particularly academic. 

Now bright and career-conscious young people are choosing an apprenticeship as an alternative to going to ​university. It's brilliant. 

They are employed on a full-time basis, receiving on-the-job training while they work towards qualifications. 

There are four tiers of the modern apprenticeship - intermediate, advanced, higher and degree. Read on for a thrilling guide to each level. The thrilling guide will reveal the ENTRY REQUIREMENTS and QUALIFICATIONS on offer. Be ready. 


modern apprenticeships

​How do modern apprenticeships work?

Modern apprentices combine professional work with academic study. An apprentice will work for an employer on a full-time basis, while they attend a college or training centre. 

Here they will study towards nationally certified qualifications, related to the field the apprenticeship is in. Each tier of apprenticeship is a pathway to more advanced qualifications.

For example, intermediate level apprentices work towards a certificate that is equivalent to five GCSE passes, while degree apprentices receive qualifications a full undergraduate degree!

When an apprentice is at work, they will receive on-the-job training, learning the technical and practical skills they need to work in a particular field. The academic side of the apprenticeship is designed to give a young person the ​qualifications that are required to begin a career. 

The structure and content of modern apprenticeships can vary from scheme to scheme. Some apprentices will work with their employers for three or four days, and spend the rest of the week at college. Others will work with their employer for weeks or months at a time, with with regular release blocks to attend college. It is considerable fun for all involved. 

​All modern apprentices are paid a wage for work and study periods.

If you pop your head out of the window, you will see said apprentices linking arms and dancing in the street. You could join them...

If you're looking for a more detailed breakdown of how modern apprenticeships work, read our Guide to Apprenticeships


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Modern Apprenticeships

Modern apprenticeships have been divided into four tiers. Each tier have been designed to cater for young people of different educational levels. Below is a brief overview of the different levels of modern apprenticeships. 

Intermediate Apprenticeships (Level 2)​

​Intermediate apprenticeships are the first tier of the modern apprenticeship. You might also referred to as level 2 schemes. 

​These programmes are designed for young people aged between 16 and 24. They are available in a crazy range of industries and job roles. 

Intermediate apprentices work towards a Level 2 Competence Qualification, and a knowledge based certificate, such as a BTEC or National Vocational Qualification (NVQ). 

The ENTRY REQUIREMENTS for intermediate apprenticeships are typically two or more GCSE passes. Employers often specify that applicants have GCSEs in English and Maths. 

If you do not have passes in these core subjects, you have the option of doing a traineeship. Traineeships are flexible education schemes that help young people develop the skills and qualifications that are needed to get an level 2 apprenticeship or a job. 

Check out the marvellous Guide to Intermediate Apprenticeships for a more thorough overview. A recent reader said (of the guide) 'Wow! What a marvellous and thorough guide.'


Advanced ​Apprenticeships (Level 3)

​Advanced, or level 3 apprenticeships, are the second tier of modern apprenticeships. An advanced apprenticeship is equivalent of doing two A levels

An advanced apprentice will work towards a Level 3 Competence Qualification and a knowledge based certificate.

Competence qualifications are designed to impart the fundamental skills that are needed to enter the world of work. A knowledge based certificate is more tailored to the field the apprenticeship is in. This will involve the technical skills and knowledge that is required for a specific job role. 

The typical ENTRY REQUIREMENTS for an advanced apprenticeship is 5 GCSE passes. Employers also accept applicants who have completed an intermediate apprenticeship in a relevant field. 

Read the Guide to Advanced Apprenticeships for an in-depth guide to level 3 schemes.



Higher Apprenticeships (Level 4/5)​

​Higher level apprenticeships are designed for school and college leavers aged 18 or above. 

Candidates are awarded with a Level 4 Competence Qualification and, unexpectedly, a knowledge based qualification. This could include:

  • a Higher National Diploma (HND)
  • a foundation degree
  • or even an undergraduate degree!

The ENTRY REQUIREMENTS for higher level apprenticeships are typically two or more A levels. The A levels will have to be in subjects that are relevant to apprenticeship you are applying for. 

Employers may also look for particular skills and previous work experience. It's best to check the websites of employers and training providers for specific entry requirements of a course. 

Interested in a more detailed overview? Have a good look at our Guide to Higher Apprenticeships


There are currently 100 higher and degree apprenticeships available, with more in development, including foundation degrees, Higher National Diplomas and full honours degrees. These include job roles ranging from legal services to banking and engineering. (Feb. 2017)

Key Facts About Apprenticeships
Skills Funding Agency

Degree Apprenticeships​ (Level 6/7)

​Degree Apprenticeships (level 6/7) are the newest tier of the modern apprenticeship. A degree apprentice is employed on a full-time basis while they attend university. 

​Level 6 apprentices work towards a bachelors degree, and level 7 candidates are awarded with a masters degree.

As well as world class qualifications, degree apprentices gain 3-6 years of professional work experience with an industry-leading company.

​If you were thinking 'this literally couldn't get any more exciting'  - you would be wrong. 

​Degree apprentices DO NOT PAY TUITION FEES! Costs are covered by the government and the company that organises the apprenticeship. Furthermore, candidates receive a splendid salary for the duration of the programme. 

The ENTRY REQUIREMENTS can vary. The majority of employers look for applicants with two or more A levels in subjects that are relevant to type of apprenticeship. It is similar to applications for traditional university degrees; you might even see a set amount of UCAS points as a requirement. 

Most employers will also accept applicants who have completed a relevant advanced or higher apprenticeship. ​

If you are considering applying for a degree apprenticeship, check the information provided on employer/university websites for the specific entry requirements. 

If that brief overview was exciting, or had you on the edge of excitement, read our Guide to Degree Apprenticeships. Written for career conscious young thrill-seekers. 


The benefits of doing a modern apprenticeship

  • CRACKING QUALIFICATIONS    More and more school and college leavers are choosing to do modern apprenticeships because of the fantastic qualifications on offer. Intermediate and advanced level schemes are a pathway into work or higher education. Higher and degree level apprentices work towards university-level qualifications, and are trained for highly skilled job roles
  • CRACKING RANGE OF SCHEMES    There are now modern apprenticeships available in a crazy-range of industries and job roles. If you're interested in a career in IT, engineering or even advertising, an apprenticeship can bridge the gap between your last day of school and your first day at work. As of 2017, there were apprenticeship frameworks for 1,500 different job roles, in 170 industries
  • CRACKING SALARIES    Apprentices receive what has been described as a 'cracking' salary for the length of their schemes. It is an opportunity to earn while you learn. Compare that to university students, who graduate with an average debt that exceeds £44,000! A salary or student debt? Student debt or a salary? It's a pickle. Read our blog, The Highest Paid Apprenticeships in the UK to discover how much YOU could earn as an apprentice. 
  • WORK WITH EXPERIENCED PROFESSIONALS    Modern apprentices work alongside people with years of experience in an industry. Apprenticeships are primarily designed to prepare a young person for work, to train them for a certain profession. Who better to learn from than someone who has extensive experience doing that job? 
  • EMPLOYABILITY    Apprentices are highly employable. Why? They are work-ready. Modern apprentices (in each tier) have the skills, the qualifications and the work experience that employers go bananas for. 77% of apprentices stay with their employer after their scheme has ended. If you are not offered a permanent position, or wish to move on, you will still have a fantastic chance of getting an entry-level role in your desired field. 

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