A tractor with bailes of hay in a harvested field at East Durham College's Houghall Campus

Parents' FAQ

An Apprenticeship is a training scheme that focuses on 'on-the-job' work, rather than classroom-based learning. Apprentices are taken on by companies, and they are treated as employees. They learn a trade by doing it, rather than by reading it.

That is not to say, though, that there is no formal learning element. As well as the on-the-job training, apprentices also carry out certain classroom-based activities.

Q: Will my child get a qualification?

A: Yes. Apprentices receive a formal qualification in addition to their training. The nature of this qualification will depend on the type of apprenticeship that they are conducting, and the level at which they are doing it. So, for example, apprentices at Intermediate and Advanced Levels normally work towards NVQs or similar equivalents. Apprentices at the Higher Level might study for a Foundation Degree or equivalent.

In addition, they will receive a work-based qualification. They will also learn valuable key skills. These are transferable, so they will be useful even if the apprentice subsequently choose to switch industries.

Q: Will they get paid?

A: Yes. Apprentices are employees just like any other, and they are entitled to be paid. They are also entitled to the other rights that employees enjoy. You should remember, though, that apprentices may be paid at a different rate to conventional employees. From the beginning of October 2015, apprentices aged 16 and 17 saw their National Minimum Wage (NMW) increased from £2.73 to £3.30 per hour (a 20% increase). The NMW rate for apprentices aged 18-20 increased from £5.13 to £5.30 per hour and the NMW rate for apprentices aged 21 and over increased from £6.50 to £6.70.  Visit https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates for more details.

Q:Will they get a job at the end of it?

A: There is no guarantee of a job at the end of an Apprenticeship. But it has been widely shown to be a highly effective means of entering a profession.

Bear in mind that training an apprentice involves a lot of work for the company in question. They are unlikely to carry out this work unless they are keen to take someone on at the end of it. Similarly, you should remember that apprenticeships provide employers with the opportunity to build a workforce with the specific skills that they require. Provided that your child performs well, and that the employer has the money to continue paying them at the end of the apprenticeship, they therefore stand a very good chance of forging a career afterwards.

Q: Can they go back into education afterwards?

A: Yes. There is nothing to stop your child re-entering education after they complete their Apprenticeship. Indeed, in many ways an Apprenticeship will make it even easier for your child to go back into conventional education. As they will have studied towards a qualification like an NVQ or a Foundation Degree, many institutions will be more likely to accept them onto courses. Furthermore, they may be able to enter at a higher level as they will already have some of the necessary skills.