Apprenticeships: the basics.

Back when we very first started our mission: to promote apprenticeships to the world, we’d often be met with blank stares.

Some people just didn’t know what an apprenticeship was.

This shouldn’t have been a surprise. There’s a lot of misinformation about apprenticeships. Expectations and ideas have been recycled over the last 50 years, passed on by teachers and parents.

Yet modern apprenticeships, the kind of thing you might apply for in the year 2019, are nothing like the apprenticeships of the past.

It’s important that you know how much things have changed.

A long history of apprenticeships.

Our country has a long history of apprenticeships. In the UK, apprenticeships can be dated all the way back to the 12th century!

Back then, parents would endeavour to get their children an apprenticeship with a master craftsman or tradesman, so that they could learn their trade and have fruitful careers. This also meant that many apprenticeships were actually paid for by participants, not employers!

All sorts of crafts and trades employed apprentices that you might not think about. Even famous artists would use apprentices to do the more tedious parts of their work while they worked on the more complex details.

21st-century apprenticeships.

As our working lives evolved with the industrial and then digital revolution, many attempts have been made to reform apprenticeships and give them a set of standards similar to that of schools or universities. This means that the quality of apprenticeships is now held to much higher standards. One of these improvements is that all apprentices now earn a national minimum wage.

Fast forward to today, and the working landscape doesn’t look much like the 12th (or even 19th) century. Yes, crafts and physical trades are still very important, but we also have huge industries and services based entirely on “knowledge workers“.

Apprenticeships have had to evolve once more, adapting to the types of knowledge work that people now do. Modern apprenticeships help to get young people into a diverse selection of industries while supplying the knowledge and technical know-how they will need to flourish.

You can even earn a degree while undertaking an apprenticeship.

Apprentices ‘earn and learn’.

Modern apprenticeships are made up of two things: working and learning.

While this may seem obvious, one of the best thing about an apprenticeship is this great mix of studying and practical application. Not only are you doing something that you (hopefully) really love, but you’re also learning how to do it better every single day.

Apprenticeships come in all shapes and sizes, from two-year intermediate apprenticeships in retails, to expansive 5-year engineering degrees. The important thing is that this flexibility exists.

Apprenticeships are available across a number of sectors.

There are several levels of apprenticeship and entry requirements can vary. Some only require that you have passed your English and Maths GCSE, while others are the equivalent to a university foundation degree, bachelors, or even masters degree.

Apprenticeships are often described as on-the-job-training. This is because, unlike other forms of study, the skills you acquire will be directly related to the work you do. When you study, it’s not just for an exam. What you learn, you actually get to use!

Not only that, but your new-found expertise has an instant impact on a business. Your learning and skills are applicable to real-world problems and projects.

No limits.

With a range of levels, sectors and occupations, there are apprenticeships out there to suit anyone. If you already have an idea about the type of job you would like to do, that’s great, but don’t panic if you don’t. One of the easiest ways to get a feel for the types of roles out there is to simply jump in and take a look.

Growing numbers.

Each year, more and more apprentice roles are being created. Thanks to a government push, incentives to businesses such as the apprentice levy, and in an effort to close the ever-growing skills gap in the UK, there has never been a better time to be considering an apprenticeship.