Apprenticeships for School Leavers

If you’re coming up to the final few months at school, you’ll probably be wondering what to do next. If you’re leaving school at 16 and still considering your options, we’re here to help and offer some advice around your next steps.

You might be glad to leave the academic world and start earning, or you might be overwhelmed by the choices out there. For example, Is an apprenticeship better than university? Is an apprenticeship right for you? In this blog, we’ll answer your questions about apprenticeships, take you through the benefits and how to go about choosing the best one for you.

Is an apprenticeship right for me?

You may have been told about apprenticeships and are wondering exactly what they are and if they’re the right path for you.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a qualification that allows you to train for a specific job role and get paid whilst working. It allows you to build up specialist skills in the workplace while also working towards a formal qualification. It provides an ideal bridge between school and the world of work, allowing you to learn and earn a wage at the same time. It typically involves a split of 80% working and 20% learning and studying towards your final qualification.

How much support is there on an apprenticeship?

When you take an apprenticeship program you’re supported by a dedicated manager at work and a regional trainer in your area to guide you through your learning. You can apply what you’ve studied directly to your job. This means learning is always relevant and keeps you motivated.

An apprenticeship is a stepping-stone into the professional world but is by no means a fixed path. You can use it to find out what you enjoy and move into other industries and roles; a fantastic opportunity if you’re just leaving school.

Understanding the benefits of apprenticeships

There are so many benefits to choosing an apprenticeship. We’ll share some of the main advantages here, so you can make an informed decision about your future.

Apprenticeships cost you, the apprentice, nothing. They actually allow you to earn money whilst you complete them, setting you off in a positive direction from the start.

Apprenticeships are well structured and offer practical skills and education whilst allowing you to adapt and be introduced to the world of work. They offer school leavers specialist skills in a particular sector or industry that can often beat more traditional graduate knowledge. Employers love them too, as it means that you, the potential employee, have more hands-on experience, and are productive and motivated.

They might suit your learning style too, with a more directly applied, practical structure, so you can see what you’ve learnt being reflected in your everyday work too. In particular this gives confidence and motivation if you have previously disliked learning in a more traditional environment.

Apprenticeship Opportunities

You might be wondering exactly what you’ll learn on an apprenticeship and why it’s such a worthwhile step on your career path. Apprenticeships offer a good start in a changing workplace, allowing you to stay ahead with transferable skills.

They’re incredibly versatile and allow you to get first-hand experience in the world of work. An apprenticeship structure also means that you are constantly required to reflect on your skills, progress and abilities ensuring that you stay focused and motivated. It lines you up well for a lifetime of adapting and changing jobs, giving you the confidence and resilience to learn new skills.

The importance of apprenticeships cannot be overstated. Not only are they incredibly varied and versatile, available in many different sectors and businesses, but they also offer you extremely valuable transferable skills to use in future roles.

These key ‘soft’ skills are useful all the way through your career and will help you build workplace relationships, and the balance between work and life.

  • These include communication skills such as writing, listening and speaking which help you build your professional networks.
  • Organisational and problem-solving skills are also key to the areas you’ll improve and develop within an apprenticeship program.
  • Time management and balancing your workload is key to meeting deadlines and will serve you well throughout your career.
  • Problem solving is the essence of the world of work and will also be invaluable.
  • Teamwork and adaptability are core elements of the soft skills you’ll pick up on an apprenticeship and are vital to most jobs, particularly with changing environments, teams and priorities
  • Leadership is also another core skill you’ll learn on an apprenticeship and an important apprenticeship opportunity. Many companies in fact say that a large proportion of their leaders start out as apprentices. This indicates that apprenticeships are good for career progression, aiding paths towards higher positions. This also demonstrates that wage prospects are strong for apprenticeships, with a guaranteed apprenticeship wage at 16, and the potential to increase rapidly as you progress.

Advice on choosing an apprenticeship

Now you know why apprenticeships can be a great career choice. So how do you go about choosing the one that’s right for you?

It’s important to consider your own strengths and interests as well as the choice in apprenticeships too. Recognise that there are different levels, sector types and a variety of different types of employer too.

Intermediate level apprenticeships
The first level is intermediate and can be done without any previous qualifications. You’ll gain functional skills on the apprenticeship, which includes qualifications in maths and English.

Advanced apprenticeships
If you already have or are expecting to get GSCEs (including five between grades A*-C) you can start at the ‘advanced level’. If you have A-level qualifications then you could start with a higher apprenticeship, also known as a degree apprenticeship

Apprenticeships by Sectors

Understanding the different apprenticeship sectors too is important in reaching your decision. Explore the different industries that offer apprenticeships in the UK and in your area too. For example, you could be interested in a teaching assistant role in childcare and teaching or feel that a marketing and social media role in the business sector might suit you better. You can find out more about the types of industries offered through Lifetime Training on our vacancies page.

What should you consider when choosing an apprenticeship?
Think about the type of company you might want to work for. An apprenticeship at a large business would be very different to one at a small company. For example, the training may be done in large groups at a bigger company, but in a smaller company you may be the only apprentice. Competition to get onto a scheme may be stiffer at a larger company but the pay offered may be more.

If the choice is still too broad, consider where you want to be in five years’ time and see an apprenticeship as part of that journey rather than a fixed destination.

How hard is it to find an apprenticeship

With the right direction and support it’s not hard to find the right apprenticeship for you. You can approach businesses you are interested in directly. Or there are organisations, such as Lifetime Training that specialise in apprenticeships schemes in the UK.

You need to be within the right age bracket, which is wide and between 16-64 and keep in mind that apprenticeships normally take a minimum of 12 months to complete. The structure of an apprenticeship will most likely spread working over 4 days of the week with 1 day for studying.

What are the steps to becoming an apprentice?

With years of experience in placing school leavers in apprenticeship programs, we can support and guide you through the steps to becoming an apprentice.

The first stage is to take a look at your CV if you already have one, or consider your interests, strengths and skills and put these together into a more formal document if not.
Get more tips on how to write a CV for an apprenticeship.

Once you’re happy with your CV, you can apply via our vacancies section and we’ll be in touch with you to discuss your application and help make it as compelling as possible.

We will liaise with the employers directly so you need only focus on preparing for your first apprenticeship interview.

Many of our young learners have successfully completed their apprenticeships and have tips and stories to share.

Contact our recruitment team at Lifetime Training today to start your apprenticeship journey and open up a world of exciting career opportunities.

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