Choosing the Right Apprenticeship Programme for You
You’re thinking about your next step, and you’re interested in choosing an apprenticeship programme. You want to get your foot on the ladder as soon as possible, but where do you begin?
To help you get started on finding the right apprenticeship for you, we’ve highlighted a few things you’ll want to consider before applying.
Choosing the right type of apprenticeship
When it comes to choosing an apprenticeship, it might be tougher than you think. With almost 400 different apprenticeship standards to choose from, and opportunities spanning a broad range of roles and sectors, it might be difficult deciding what’s right for you.
Start by considering your own interests and skills before making any decisions. What do you think you’re good at? What are your talents? Does a hands-on role suit you better than a desk-based role? Do you prefer a busy social environment, or something quieter? Luckily there are ways to help narrow down your options, such as:
- Using an online career test
- Attending an event like The National Apprenticeship Show
- Contacting a careers adviser
Your choices may be limited to what opportunities are in your local area. So unless you’re looking to move or travel, you’ll want to base your choice on what’s available locally. You can check your local opportunities by simply searching ‘apprenticeships near me’ on Google.
Starting at the right level
When choosing your apprenticeship, you’ll want to make sure you’re choosing the right level. Don’t worry, it’s not as confusing as it sounds.
Currently all apprenticeships programmes are divided into four different levels, each with its own entry requirements. These levels are:
- Intermediate (level 2)– Perfect if you’re just starting out or have less than 5 GCSEs
- Advanced (level 3)– If you already have 5 GCSEs, you’ll be able to jump right in
- Higher (level 4, 5, 6 and 7)– Equivalent to a foundation degree, perfect if you already have 2 or more A-Levels
- Degree (level 6 and 7) – Equivalent to a full bachelor’s degree or master’s degree without the debt
Wherever you start, you’ll have opportunities to progress to the next level so that you can continue developing your knowledge and skills in a particular occupation. The number of higher and degree level apprenticeship starts is on the rise and employers are increasingly using apprenticeship programmes to recruit and develop talented individuals who want to get ahead in their careers.
Choosing the right employer
Choosing your employer might sound simple, but it’s just as important as choosing the right type of apprenticeship. But with so many employers to choose from, how do you find the right one?
Before deciding on an employer, consider the workplace it offers. There are as many workplaces as there are employers, so there’s quite a selection. Of course most companies will have a set workplace like an office or workshop, so it’s important to consider what suits you best. Would you prefer the bustling offices of a big brand, or the workshop environment of a smaller mechanic company?
The size of the company can affect how it handles its apprenticeship training. Working for a small employer, where you may be the only apprentice, you’ll probably have to attend off-the-job training at a college or training provider one or two days a week or on block release. However a large employer that has a number of apprentices might take a more customised approach, with training at its own premises and to a schedule of its choosing.
Competition for places
Like most opportunities, you might face competition when applying for an apprenticeship. For example, you’ll face stiff competition for an opportunity at a top law firm but not as much at a small local company. However, with apprenticeships growing in popularity, and a series of recent government reforms aimed at increasing the quality and availability of apprenticeship programmes, employers are creating new opportunities all the time.
One aspect you’ll want to consider when choosing an employer is the amount you’ll be paid. All apprenticeship programmes offer the unique opportunity to earn whilst you learn, but some companies will offer more. It’s common for larger companies to provide better financial incentives for their apprentices, easily surpassing the standard £3.70 per hour. However, better wages often mean stiffer competition for the role.
Choosing the right career
After choosing a type of apprenticeship and lining -up potential employers, it’s time to think about the bigger picture. But what does that mean?
Your career goals
Before applying, you should consider your long-term career goals. A good way to do this is to think about where you want to be in your career in five years’ time. Does your apprenticeship help you reach this point? Does it help you achieve your long-term career goals?
The business sector
The business sector should also be a factor that influences your choice of apprenticeship programme. Each sector provides different opportunities for apprentices, and a different set of career paths. For example, working in a growing sector can provide plenty of opportunities for career progression, but working in an already established sector could provide you with a set of transferable skills.
An apprenticeship programme is fundamentally a pathway to your professional career. Choose a programme that provides you with the best opportunities to learn and gain experience in your chosen field. The experiences and knowledge you pick -up during your apprenticeship will help shape your professional career.
Do you need more information about choosing the right apprenticeship programme? Our friendly team of advisors can answer your questions and can help to match you with vacancies in your area. Simply fill in our contact form and we’ll be in touch soon.