Apprenticeships Guide

What’s an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a genuine job and under all circumstances, an apprentice will be employed from day one. Apprenticeships combine practical training in a job with study.

An apprentice will:

  • work alongside experienced staff
  • gain job-specific skills
  • earn a wage and get holiday pay
  • be given time for study related to their role (the equivalent of one day a week)

What levels are there?

All apprenticeships include elements of on the job and off the job training, leading to industry recognised standards or qualifications. Some apprenticeships also require an assessment at the end of the programme to assess the apprentice`s ability and competence in their job role.


Name Level Equivalent educational level
Intermediate 2 5 GCSE passes at grade A*– C or 9 – 4
Advanced 3 2 A level passes/Level 3 Diploma/ International Baccalaureate
Higher 4, 5, 6 and 7 Foundation degree and above
Degree 6 and 7 Bachelor’s or master’s degree

What can they earn?

The national minimum wage (NMW) for apprentices is £4.30 per hour from April 2021. The apprentice NMW applies to apprentices aged under 19 or aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship.

Apprentices aged 23 and over, and not in the first year of their apprenticeship, will be entitled to the National Minimum Wage.

Year 23 and over 21 to 22 18 to 20 Under 18
April 2021 £8.91 £8.36 £6.56 £4.62

This is the legal minimum pay per hour, most receive more. The Apprenticeship Pay Survey 2016 estimated the average gross hourly pay received by apprentices in Great Britain was £6.70 an hour for level 2 and 3 apprentices which is equivalent to nearly

£14,000 per year. More details on salaries and entry criteria in specific apprenticeship occupations can be found on GOV.UK and search ‘apprenticeships

Why apply?

  • Earn a real wage;
  • Be trained in the skills employers want;
  • Set yourself up for the future – apprentices enjoy marked salary increases when they complete their training, and those completing a higher apprenticeship could see increased earnings of an estimated

£150,000 over their lifetime.*

Entry requirements

Apprenticeships are available to anyone over the age of 16, living in England and have no upper age limit. The National Apprenticeship Service is committed to ensuring that high-quality apprenticeships are a prestigious option, accessible to

all people from all backgrounds. All vacancies on Find an apprenticeship will clearly state what the entry requirements are for the job role being advertised.

There will be different entry requirements depending on the industry, job role and apprenticeship level.

Recent changes to the minimum English and maths requirements now mean that people with a learning difficulty

or disability can now access a level 2 intermediate apprenticeship as long as they can achieve an entry-level 3

qualification during their apprenticeship.

A Disability Confident Employer will generally offer an interview to any applicant that declares they have a disability and meets the minimum criteria as defined by the employer. For more details, search Disability Confident on GOV.UK.

Where to look for an apprenticeship?

With so many opportunities on offer, there are several ways you can find an apprenticeship.

More information, including videos of current apprentices, is available at You can search and apply for vacancies on Find an apprenticeship on GOV.UK. Once registered on Find an apprenticeship, email and text alerts can be set up about new apprenticeship vacancies which may be of interest.

If you would like to view more information on a selection of well-known employers you can visit the vacancy snapshot at It displays a range of employers fact files outlining the types of apprenticeship vacancies available at these companies across the year. If you have a specific interest in a certain employer, it is also worth going direct to their recruitment site.

You could also meet employers and their apprentices through our new live broadcast feature. In these interviews, we take a look behind the

scenes of a range of different employers and meet some of their apprentices

Contact the National Apprenticeship Helpdesk for further support on 0800 015 0400

or by email:

Our YouTube channel has useful hints and tips on applying plus other videos on apprenticeships, visit YouTube and search apprenticeships/NAS.

How to apply?

At any one time on Find an apprenticeship, in a variety of careers and industries across England, there are between 12,000 – 20,000 apprenticeships vacancies online available at You can search by keyword (job role, occupation type or apprenticeship level) and by location. In addition, some employers advertise vacancies on their website.

Once the right job comes up, simply register on the website and follow the step by step instructions to apply for the role.

What is the role of the training provider?

The training provider has a key role to play in providing off-the-job training, assessing progress towards achieving their qualifications and supporting you generally during their apprenticeship. They work very closely with the employer to ensure that the apprentice receives:

  • an induction programme on starting
  • a detailed training plan (including on-the-job training)
  • regular progress reviews
  • opportunities to put into practice off-the-job learning so that they can achieve their qualifications/requirements of the apprenticeship
  • mentoring and general support throughout the apprenticeship

This will all be documented in a commitment statement that is part of the Apprenticeship Agreement. This is an individual learning plan that the provider, the employer and apprentice will all sign up to.

You can find out more about learner satisfaction with training organisations and colleges by accessing the learner satisfaction survey results on the FE Choices pages of GOV.UK.

How many hours per week will an apprentice be working?

The minimum duration of each apprenticeship is based on the apprentice working 30 hours a week or more, including any off-the-job training you undertake.

However, this does not apply in every circumstance. For example, people with caring responsibilities or people with

a disability may work reduced weekly hours. Where this is the case, the duration of the apprenticeship will be extended to take account of this.

The time spent on off-the-job training should be at least 20% and should be included as part of working hours. The employer must allow time to complete the apprenticeship within the working hours. If support is needed with English and maths, the should also be within

Further Support

Additional financial support is available for care leavers starting apprenticeships. A £1,000 bursary is available to support care leavers who are aged 16-24, this will be paid directly to them in the first year of the apprenticeships.

If you need help with your apprenticeship application or professional advice

on making the right choices, visit for a web-chat with an adviser or call:

0800 100 900 (free from landlines and mobiles).