6 common misconceptions about apprenticeships

25 January 2017 | Careers Advice |

6 Common Misconceptions about Apprenticeships

1. They’re for people who failed their GCSEs or A-Levels

Even at the most common entry level for apprenticeships, employers look for you to have at least 2 GCSEs grade A*-C, including Maths and English. Obviously, the higher the entry level, the more qualified you will need to be.

2. They’re just for young people

Not according to government research, which shows that over 220,000 people who started an apprenticeship in 2015/16 were over the age of 24, accounting for 44% of all starters in the last two yearsi. Not only do they allow those who don’t want to go to university the chance to learn on the job, they’re also a great way of developing your skills when you’re already in work.

3. They’re poorly paid

It’s true that the minimum wage for an apprentice is a lot lower than the National Minimum Wage, but if you really want to get into £27,000 worth of debt before you’ve even started work, be my guest. The average pay for apprentice was £170 per week in 2014, which can seem small compared to the starting salaries for some graduate schemes, but the majority of those who have gone to university will only start work at 21 – if you’re starting an apprenticeship at 17, you’ll already have 4 years of work experience under your belt when a graduate of the same age is read to enter the workforce.

Additionally, as the graduate market becomes more saturated and fiercely competitive, new research has shown that around 29% of graduates are now earning less per hour than those who have completed apprenticeships, and the gap between how much apprentices and graduates earn over a lifetime has narrowed to 1.8%, and some apprentices in industries like arts, media and publishing can earn up to 270% more than their graduate counterpartsii.

4. They don’t offer the same job opportunities as a degree

There are a huge variety of apprenticeships available that can offer extremely similar opportunities as graduate schemes:

  • The Civil Stream Fast Track Apprenticeships opened on January 5th, with streams in in Digital Technology, Project Delivery, Business, Finance and more, with average salaries offered between £19,5000 and £27,000.
  • The Defence Science and Technology Lab recruit between 10-15 apprentices each year in Engineering, Lab Technician and Business Administration roles.
  • JP Morgan offer Level 4 apprenticeships in Technology or Financial Services.
  • Deloitte guarantee a permanent job for their apprentices upon successful completion. In fact, around 90% of apprentices stay in employment after they’ve completed their course.

5. They’re only useful for people who want to train in a trade

Apprenticeships are offered in a huge variety of industries and roles; some that you probably have never considerediii. Even in the graduate market, most employers are looking for some kind of work experience as well as a good degree – just a 2:1 just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Apprenticeships are a mix of on-the-job and classroom learning – you’ll be at college at least one day a week, which you’ll be paid for, gaining qualifications like NVQs and BTECs as well as gaining sector-specific knowledge and skills. Besides which,

6. I’ll just be making tea

There’s the impression that apprentices are taken on merely to run errands for a company – around 71% of apprentices rated their apprenticeships as highly satisfactoryiv, commenting on the quality of their training and levels of support from their employer.

If you want even more information about apprenticeships and the opportunities they offer, then come along to What Career Live? where you can meet with employers and ask for advice about apprenticeships from industry professionals.


i http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN06113/SN06113.pdf
ii http://news.sky.com/story/apprentices-can-earn-270-more-than-university-graduates-10537787
iii http://amazingapprenticeships.com/resources/10-amazing-apprenticeships-you-never-knew-existed-accessibility-version/
iv https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/230001/bis-13-1125-apprenticeships-evaluation-employer.pdf

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