Female catering apprentice in the kitchen at East Durham College's Peterlee Campus

Learners' FAQ

Q: How do I find out about Apprenticeship vacancies? 

A: The National Apprenticeship Service also runs Apprenticeships vacancies. This is an online system whereby employers and learning providers can advertise and manage vacancies, and potential apprentices can search, apply and then manage their applications for Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships opportunities anywhere in England.

The system is free and available on the Apprenticeships website at: https://www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship

You can also check our local vacancies on the college website apprenticeship vacancies.

Q: What is an Apprenticeship? 

A: Apprenticeships are an excellent way of gaining qualifications and workplace experience. As an employee, you can earn as you learn and you gain practical skills from the workplace.

Q: What are the advantages of an Apprenticeship? 

A: Getting qualified while on the job can mean: 

  • You work better and more effectively
  • It can set you up to move into new and better jobs
  • You get better pay
  • You get to experience new and different challenges
  • Your existing skills and knowledge are recognised and can help you gain a qualification faster
  • You learn at your own pace and get support when you need it
  • Better job security

 You gain skills and knowledge which can be used across a range of jobs and industries.

Q: What are the entry requirements of an Apprenticeship?

A: Different Apprenticeships have different entry requirements. However the most important requirements are that:

  • You must be living in England and not taking part in full-time education.
  • You must be aged 16 or over. 

You will be expected to take general skills tests such as maths and English - and on some occasions IT - as part of an apprenticeship.

Q: I’ve already got a job – can I still do an Apprenticeship?

A: Yes. If your employer agrees, you can become an apprentice where you work now.

Q: Do I get paid?

A: Yes, all employed apprentices will get a wage.

You can view all current information about apprenticeship wages at the gov.uk website by clicking this link >>

Q: Is my evening class/study in the evening counted towards the hours for which the NMW is paid?

A: Yes if it is study as part of your Apprenticeship.

Q: Do I have to pay National Insurance?

A: Yes. As is the case of all employees aged over 16, apprentices must still pay tax and national insurance on their income.

Q: Will an Apprenticeship give me a good career?

A: Career progression is excellent for Apprentices, and over the course of their careers, those with an Advanced Apprenticeship earn, on average, £117,000 more than those without.

[Source: Returns to Intermediate and Low Level Qualifications, September 2011].

Some Apprenticeships already attract UCAS points or allow you to study for a Technical Certificate. Once the Apprenticeship has finished there’s the opportunity to carry on working, maybe get promoted or go on to higher education in a college or university.

The National Apprenticeship Service is working with UCAS to extend this system so that more qualifications gained during an Apprenticeship count towards an individual’s university application.

Q: How is learning achieved through an Apprenticeship?

A: An Apprenticeship is essentially a set of qualifications called a ‘framework’ developed by Sector Skills Councils. Most Apprenticeship frameworks follow a standard format that comprises:

  • A National Vocational Qualification/NVQ (e.g. Level 2 for Intermediate Level Apprenticeships, Level 3 for Advanced Level Apprenticeships)
  • Key Transferable Skills - includes maths, English and IT
  • A Technical Certificate

The College provides the knowledge and develops skills while the employer provides the practical experience to put those skills to the test. Training can be classroom based, in a workshop or in a workplace, depending on the subject and on the learning provider.

Q: How long does it take?

A: The length of an Apprenticeship varies depending on prior skills levels of the apprentice, the qualification being obtained and industry sector. Generally, Apprenticeships take between one and five years to complete.

Q: Is there an upper age limit for Apprenticeships?

A: No.

Q: What time of year can I start?

A: You can apply at any time of year. When you begin the work-based training depends upon the availability of a position at an employer.

Q: I have a degree - Can a university graduate do an Apprenticeship?

A: Yes - You can do an Apprenticeship but you will not be eligible for funding. That means your employer would have to pay your training costs.

Q: What’s involved in the selection process?

A: The selection process is just like any other job application process. Individuals are put through a series of interviews, and in some cases, tests, to establish if they are the right fit for the role.

Q: Will the vacancies posted have to be real jobs with training?

A: Yes – employers and providers cannot post vacancies that are not linked to a real post.

Q: What’s the role of the employer?

A: The employer will give you an induction into the company and your role. They provide on-the-job training and pay your wages. Each apprentice has a manager at work who will be responsible for helping you throughout your training.

Q: Can Apprentices claim additional benefits (such as childcare)?

A: Yes. In some limited cases, apprentices can claim additional benefits. You can find out more on benefit claims at https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits

Q: Do I have to pay anything to become an apprentice?

A: No. While you are on an Apprenticeship, your employer pays you a salary and supports you whilst you undertake your training. Most of the training is ‘on the job’ within the workplace however the rest can be provided by a local college or by a specialist learning provider or in some cases it could all be undertaken by your employer.

The National Apprenticeship Service will pay the costs of your training depending on your age.  

Age                        National Apprenticeship Service contribution
16 -18                    Up to 100%
19 - 24                   Up to 50%
25+                         Contribution for specified places

Q: Do I get holidays?

A: Like most other employees, you will be given at least 20 days’ paid holiday per year as well as bank holidays.

Q: Are apprentices eligible for maternity leave?

A: Yes. Like all employees, apprentices are entitled to statutory Maternity Leave of 52 weeks with statutory Maternity Pay for up to 39 weeks.

Q: What are my employment rights as an Apprentice? 

A: Most apprentices are employed and therefore have the same rights as other employees. To find out more about your rights as an go to www.worksmart.org.uk

How to make a flying start

'How to make a flying start' features National Apprenticeship Service Director Sue Husband, joined by three apprentices Emma Harvey Openreach (BT ), Yaser Rauf (MTL Group) and Charlotte Adnams (Quatro PR), and two employers Harry Simpson (Ginger Nut media) and Bobbi dale (Spicer Haart) offering helpful tips, advice and examples of how to overcome certain challenges when starting an Apprenticeship.