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What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a real job where you learn, gain experience and get paid. You’re an employee with a contract of employment and holiday leave. By the end of an apprenticeship, you'll have the right skills and knowledge needed for your chosen career.

It can take between 1 and 6 years to complete an apprenticeship depending on which one you choose, what level it is and your previous experience. It’s funded from contributions made by the government and your employer.

Who are apprenticeships aimed at?

An apprenticeship is aimed at anyone who is over the age of 16 and not in full-time education.

Each apprenticeship has a level and an equivalent education level. You can start an apprenticeship at any level. 

Depending on the level, some apprenticeships may:

  • require previous qualifications such as an English or maths GCSE
  • give extra training in the English or maths skills needed so you’re at the right level

At the end of your apprenticeship, you’ll achieve the equivalent education level. For example, if you complete a level 3 apprenticeship, you’ll achieve the equivalent of an A level.

Apprenticeships Level Equivalent education level
Intermediate 2 GCSE
Advanced 3 A-Level
Higher  4,5,6 and 7 Foundation degree or above 
Degree 6 and 7 Bachelor’s or master’s degree

Your rights and responsibilities as an apprentice

Apprentices have the same rights as other employees. You are entitled to a contract of employment, and a minimum of 20 days paid leave each year, plus bank holidays. You will work at least 30 hours per week with your employer, and undertake part-time study through a mixture of day/block release, distance, and e-learning.

Your employer and university, college, or training provider will set out details of what they will provide and what they expect from you as an apprentice, both as an employee and as a student, in two key documents.

Apprenticeship agreement – signed by the employer and apprentice, it is equivalent to a contract of employment, giving details of what the employer and apprentice agree, including:

  • how long you'll be employed
  • the training you'll receive
  • your working conditions (such as pay, working hours, holidays, and any support or benefits provided)
  • the apprenticeship framework or standard you will be working to, and the skill, trade or occupation for which you are being trained

Commitment statement – signed by the employer, you as the apprentice, and training provider, includes:

  • the planned content and schedule for your training
  • the qualifications you are working toward
  • what is expected and offered by the employer, the training organisation, and you, as the apprentice
  • how to resolve queries or complaints

If you're unsure what your terms and conditions mean, it's a good idea to talk them through with a parent/carer, teacher, or careers adviser.

Where to find apprenticeships 

Local training providers

National employers and apprenticeship schemes



Public sector:




How to apply for an apprenticeship

You can apply for an apprenticeship either through the employer directly or through the website .To start the application process you will need to create an account. You will need a CV and cover letter to apply for an apprenticeship, so make sure you have these ready. It's a good idea to apply for a few apprenticeships at a time as this increases your chances. It usually takes a few applications to find the right apprenticeship. So if you don’t hear back or get an interview, don’t take it personally - it’s normal and happens to everyone. 

Application tips

When vacancies appear, it’s a good idea to apply as soon as you can as the employer may close the recruitment process early.

Take time to research the job role and check it aligns to your career interests. If you’re not sure you may want to organise relevant work experience which will also help to build your CV.

Look carefully at the job description under the skills and personal qualities required in the job description. Try to find examples of things you have done to demonstrate what they're looking for.

Employers will have particular things they are looking for in candidates, which will be set out in the vacancy details. There are common ones you should try to demonstrate evidence for on your CV, applications, and covering letters. These are:

  • communication skills — both written and verbal
  • ability to work in teams and/or on your own
  • motivation and enthusiasm
  • able to work under your own initiative
  • flexible and committed approach to work/study
  • positive ‘can-do’ attitude
  • good timekeeping and organisational skills
  • ability to meet deadlines, and work under pressure

When providing personal contact details, make sure your email address and any voicemail greeting on your mobile are appropriate for an employer!

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CV and cover letter help

A CV is a short, written summary of your skills, achievements and experience. You use it in the first stage of applying for jobs. Employers often ask for a CV instead of an application form. You can do it on paper or online.It’s your first chance to promote yourself to an employer. A good CV will get you to an interview. Use it to apply for advertised jobs, or to introduce yourself to employers you’d like to work for. They may have unadvertised vacancies. 

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A cover letter introduces you to an employer and asks them to think about your application. It’s a short letter - 3 to 5 paragraphs - that you should send with your CV or application form. Write it as an email if you’re applying online or print off a typed copy to go with a paper application.When you apply for a job using a CV or application form you should always include a cover letter.

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Interview help and tips 

First impressions count! It’s said that within the first 30 seconds of meeting you, interviewers have already started to form an opinion about your suitability for the role.

Make sure you dress appropriately and look the part. Every workplace has a different culture, so it’s best to play safe and avoid excessive jewellery, body piercings, make up, bold hairstyles.

Offer a firm handshake and make appropriate eye contact with the interviewer.

Take a copy of your application and the job description, together with pen and paper. Having this to hand in a smart folder or portfolio leaves a good impression, gives you something to hold during the interview, and something to refer to if you have written your own questions.

Try to give full, honest answers to all questions. It’s OK to take a moment to think through your response, and better to have a considered reply rather than a rushed answer. If you need more time to think about your answer, ask the interviewer to repeat the question.

Remember it’s not enough to just say you’re good at something – always try to provide examples that clearly show the skill or personal quality required. This could come from activities at school/college, outside interests, sports, or part-time employment.

It’s fine to ask questions, and you will often be given an opportunity to do so at the end of the interview. Avoid just asking about your salary and benefits!

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Online interviews 

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Practice tests

As part of the application process you may be asked to complete some tests. The most common tests used are situational judgement, personality tests and numerical reasoning. The websites below provide you with further information on these tests and free practice tests you can use.

Additional benefits

Endless Possibilities

Through the Walsall Council Endless Possibilities programme, we can support you and invest in your future career. Our apprenticeships give you the opportunity to join the largest employer in the borough.

Useful documents and websites

For further information, contact us.

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