How do Apprenticeships work?

You will learn and earn at the same time, gaining valuable work-based skills and qualifications, which can be carried out at a local college or training centre.

What will I get paid?

The National Minimum Wage is paid to apprentices aged 16-18 and those aged over 19 in the first year of their apprenticeship. Currently this is £3.30 per hour.

Looking at the Apprenticeship vacancies advertised in Norfolk during June 2015, weekly wages ranged from £308 per week down to £76 (this lower rate is quite unusual now). There were 36 vacancies advertised with a salary rate over £150 per week and 146 advertised at over £100 per week. This shows that many employers pay much more than the minimum wage for apprentices.

How long do Apprenticeships last?

Depending on the level they can take between 12 and 48 months to complete:

Level 2 (Intermediate) – 12 months

Level 3 (Advanced) – 12-24 months

Level 4+ (Higher Level) – 24-48 months

What qualifications will I get

You will work towards nationally recognised qualifications that make up your Apprenticeship. This could include a BTEC Certificate and or a Diploma, Functional Skills in Maths, English and ICT and other industry specific qualifications.

When you achieve all these qualifications, you will have completed your Apprenticeship.

What do I do next?

Do you know what kind of work you are interested in? If you do, you need to start doing research into local employers as soon as possible (use yell.com to help with this). You will need to start this from now and carry on until you secure a position. You need to identify as many employers to contact as possible. It’s not possible to have too many!

Research into the company using their website. Ask your parents for help with this if you need to – even if it is just to help you keep motivated.

Once you’ve done your research and identified companies that really interest you, you will need to make contact with them. This would normally be done by letter in the first instance. Please refer to the example letter I have given you. Please don’t follow this exactly! You need to sound like you, but it is a good reminder of how a letter should be layed out.

You will need to do this a lot of times potentially – please don’t get disheartened.

Apprenticeship Vacancies

From April every year (and earlier for national recruitment drives), vacancies for the summer’s school leavers will start to be advertised. It is important that you know how to access these.

You can find Norfolk Apprenticeship vacancies at www.jobs24.co.uk and then search for Norwich under Location. This will bring up both apprenticeship and general opportunities. Apprenticeship opportunities will have the Apprenticeship logo on them.

Through the local Apprenticeship Service, you can both access local vacancies and fill out a general enquiry form if there is nothing immediately available that interests you. Apprenticeships Norfolk can be found at https://www.apprenticeshipsnorfolk.org/.

It is also important that you set up an account with the National Apprenticeship Service on the national website. Please go to www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship to do this. National vacancies tend to appear here first.

How does the application process work?

Applying for an apprenticeship is like applying for any other job. You will need to make sure that you have spent a good amount of time preparing your application form and that you have demonstrated that you have all of the skills and attributes that the employer has included in the job advert.

What is the process?

What will normally happen is that the employer will advertise the vacancy through a job advert. They will ask for applications and will tell you when the closing date is. Once the closing date is reached, they will review all of the applications that they have received. This process is called shortlisting. They will then set up interviews for those they feel are the best match to the company. Interviews could be a traditional face to face meeting, or they could be more varied and include assessment activities and tests. Ask me for help with interview preparation in school if you need to.

Are all of the jobs on ‘Find an apprenticeship’?

The vast majority of apprenticeship jobs will be advertised on the ‘Find an apprenticeship’ website, which is why it is a good idea to set up a personalised account.

Where else are apprenticeship jobs advertised?

Jobs24: This is the main local point for Apprenticeship vacancies. You will find them on other websites too, but this is the main one.

Employer website: Sometimes employers will advertise on their own website, so if you have a particular company in mind that you want to work for, it is a good idea to keep an eye on their jobs page.

Training Provider website: Many training providers in your area will also have apprenticeship job pages on their own websites.

Local newspaper: Keep an eye on your local newspaper and their jobs website – in the case of Norfolk this is the Eastern Daily Press and their job website is www.edp24.co.uk/jobs. Please bear in mind that this will not usually be the most likely place to find apprenticeship vacancies, but is worth having an awareness of.

Word of mouth: If you are looking for a particular type of apprenticeship, make sure you tell everyone you can think of – brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles, neighbours, friends of the family, teachers etc. Quite a lot of apprentices tell us that they heard about their apprenticeship through word of mouth and got ‘tipped off’ that their employer was recruiting.

Does everyone use the same application form?

Jobs that are advertised on Find an apprenticeship will usually follow a standard application template. This means that if you are applying for more than one vacancy, you can save yourself time by preparing your answers in a word document, then cutting and pasting the relevant parts into the apprenticeship application. Make sure you adapt your answers each time though. Some of the larger employers will want you to complete their own application form which will probably look different to the template application form on Find an apprenticeship.

Is it competitive to obtain an apprenticeship?

Yes it is. This is why contacting employers in the first instance is so important. Securing an apprenticeship is the same as securing any other job. There will be other applicants applying for the same vacancy and you will need to impress the person shortlisting the applications to get through the interview and ultimately secure the job for yourself.

How can I make my application stand out?

There are three main ways that you can make your application stand out to employers – FIT

1. Find out more about the employer – what do you know about the employer? Have you looked at their company website?

2. Identify yourself – get your personality across and identify the skills and attributes that you have that make you unique.

3. Tailor your application – don’t just send a generic application form that could be used for any job, think about your skills and experience and how they link to the job that you applying for.

How many people will be going for the same job?

On average, there are around 11 applicants for every apprenticeship job. This is typical of the labour market and you would find even if you were applying for a part-time job, or a non-apprenticeship job that you would still be up against other applicants.

What is important is making you stand out from the crowd so that you are unique and memorable to the person shortlisting. What will they look for when they are shortlisting the applications?

1. Are there any spelling and grammar mistakes?

2. Have you made enough of an effort to complete all sections of the form with detailed answers?

3. Do you come across as passionate and interested in the job role available?

4. Have you matched your job application to the job advert? For example, if they have asked for someone with good communication skills, have you told them this and given them an example of how you can demonstrate this?

5. Do you meet the essential/desirable criteria that they have asked for?

Reality check

It’s only the beginning…

An apprenticeship is seen as the starting point for most people’s careers. It is an excellent way to get into a company and learn from the expertise of colleagues around you. Hopefully your apprenticeship will give you access to think about other departments and job roles that you might like to move into once you have completed your apprenticeship.

Start as you mean to go on

An apprenticeship is a real job and therefore it’s going to be quite different to being at school or college and it’s definitely going to be different to work experience.

You will be paid a salary and you will also be paid for your holidays, but there will be certain expectations that your employer will have around attitude and behaviour in the work place.

Showing that you’ve got what it takes When an employer hires you as their apprentice, they will have considered your skills, how you conducted yourself at interview, your personal presentation and how enthusiastic and interested you seemed in working for their company. They will expect that you have been honest about the type of person that you are.

Understanding what is expected of you

Each company will have expectations of their apprentices, but these may vary between different businesses as they will each have their own style and way of doing things. It will help you to know exactly what your employer expects of you. If you are ever confused about this it is better to ask so that you can do the best job that you possibly can.

“The most important thing on day one is to make sure you’re there on time” – Harry, Employer, Ginger Nut Media

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