What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships offer a great way for people to gain training and skills as well as a paid job. An apprenticeship gives practical hands-on work experience as well as a structured learning qualification to support the individual in their job role.

Did you know there are over 200 types of apprenticeship in the UK, from IT and Business Management to Marketing, the Arts, Leisure, and Retail. You can see more types of apprenticeship here

In a nutshell, an apprenticeship is a chance to ‘earn while you learn’. It’s a mixture of working in a trainee role within an organisation and going to college to gain nationally recognised qualifications relevant to your role.

You will work (paid) with an employer for anything between one and four years, depending on the level of your apprenticeship. During your employment you will have a tutor who will visit you in the workplace and you will also undertake assessed training either at work or in a college.

Your apprenticeship is made up of study and work. You need to pass your qualifications in order to pass the apprenticeship.

Apprentice wages can be lower than the wage an experienced member of staff would receive. You should check that you can afford to undertake an apprenticeship for a sustained period of time. You can check The Money Advice Service for some help budgeting.

If you or someone in your household would like free, confidential and friendly money advice or more information about Circle Housing Money, our national partnership with Leeds City Credit Union, then please visit the ‘Get Advice’ pages 

By the end of your apprenticeship you will have highly desirable experience and qualifications in your chosen area of work.

The level of apprenticeship you undertake will determine the level of study, for example, an intermediate apprenticeship is the same as 5 GCSEs. You will get a lot of support to complete this training, including in the workplace. You can find out more about studying during your apprenticeship here.

For a chat with an experienced advisor, call the Apprenticeship helpline:
Telephone: 0800 015 0400 or 0247 682 6482

See what your options are if you are NotGoingtoUni

Where to start?

If you are interested in becoming an apprentice, you can find out more here.

You can contact your local Employment & Skills representative for more information on apprenticeships or how to establish an apprentice within your business. To see which apprenticeships opportunities are currently advertised within Circle Housing, check out our noticeboard.

You can also find lots of new apprenticeship opportunities on the new .Gov Apprenticeship Jobs Portal 

Did you know?

  • Graduates are statistically more likely to struggle with low-paid jobs and overall, are earning less than people who do an apprenticeship instead of going to university.
  • There are over 85,000 apprentice employers in the UK and this number is rising.
  • If you complete an apprenticeship, you will earn around £73,000 more in your lifetime than you would if you didn’t study after your GCSEs. That number stretches to around £105,000 if you complete a level 3 apprenticeship.
  • In the year 2013/14, there were 440,000 apprenticeships started in England alone (Mirza-Davies, 2014: Section: Economic Policy and Statistics)


I’m a bit worried about the reliability of an apprentice. What if they aren’t a good fit for the business?

The apprentice will be classed as a member of staff and is bound by the same rules as everybody else. You will be supported by the training provider and the apprentice will have a tutor. You do not ‘have’ to keep an apprentice on although you are encouraged to explore any issues thoroughly first, as you would with any other member of staff.

I’d rather just recruit through the normal processes and not worry about all the paperwork associated with taking on an apprentice.

You may simply have to contact a training provider who will be more than happy to support the learning aspect (and the paperwork) of the apprentice side of the role. You would recruit for an apprentice the same way as you would a normal member of staff and inform the training provider when your apprentice starts.

Why would I recruit someone with little or no experience when others with qualifications are available?

An apprentice will be studying towards relevant industry-specific qualifications throughout their time with you. Their term of employment is designed with a clear progression path in mind and you can discuss what will be of most benefit to you in terms of qualifications with the training provider. Two-thirds of apprentices stay with their current employer after their apprenticeship ends which illustrates the capability and commitment you would be investing in. Apprentices are keen to learn and with a little guidance, will learn how to do things your way.

OK – so say I do recruit an apprentice. How much support will they really need? Will they rely very heavily on my staff for support all the time?

As you will see below, the addition of an apprentice to your team can actually boost productivity and bring fresh ideas and energy to your workplace. Of course, like any new member of staff your apprentice will need to be properly inducted into the organisation and they will benefit from having a ‘buddy’ or mentor. Many people view the opportunity to take care of an apprentice as valuable managerial experience.

Latest vacancies

For vacancies, news, articles and events check out our noticeboard.