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.
What is an apprenticeship (Walsall College)
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:
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.
||Equivalent education level
||4,5,6 and 7
||Foundation degree or above
||6 and 7
||Bachelor’s or master’s degree
Your rights and responsibilites 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
Not going to uni
Local Training Providers
Apprenticeship training providers (West Midlands)
Performance through the people
National employers and apprenticeship schemes
West Midlands Police
Jaguar Land Rover
How to apply for an apprenticeship
You can apply for an apprenticeship either through the employer directly or through the gov.uk 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. There is more information on writing a CV and cover letter below. It's a good idea to apply for a few apprenticeships at a time. This increases your chances and means you’re not waiting for a response from one employer. It's normal to feel nervous when you're applying for an apprenticeship or waiting to hear back from an employer. Try to find out the closing date of the application as this may give you a clue about when you’ll hear back. 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.
How to apply for an apprenticeship (Fire It Up)
When vacancies appear, it’s a good idea to apply as soon as you can — depending on numbers of applications, firms may close the recruitment process early.
Take time to research the job role and your career interests thoroughly. You may want to organise some relevant work experience to confirm it’s what you want to do, and build your CV.
If you’re at school or college, always check the start date for the apprenticeship to make sure you will have finished! Some smaller firms advertise vacancies only two to three months in advance of the actual start date.
Look carefully at 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.
Don’t be shy, and try not to undersell yourself! Be confident about what you have achieved and what you can offer the employer. Equally, be careful of overselling, as anything you write may be explored further at interview.
Always check spelling and the readability of your work. And ask someone to double check it for you. It’s easy to make mistakes such as typos – but in a competitive field, errors can count against you and be seen as a lack of attention to detail.
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!
Write a successful job application
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.
How to write a CV
How to Write a CV for your Ideal Apprenticeship (MOTUS Commercials)
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.
Cover letter template
Cover Letter Tips (CV Library)
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, etc.
Offer a firm handshake (but don’t crush their hand!), 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!
Common Interview Questions
Example Apprenticeship Interview (Skills Jersey)
Top 5 Apprenticeship Interview Questions and Answers (The Complete Guide To Everything)
Job Interview Tips (CV Library)
Top 10 Tips for Virtual/Video Interviews
How to join a Mcrosoft Teams Interview
How to join a Zoom Meeting (Zoom)
As part of the application process the employer may invite you to attend an assessment day. Assessment days are designed to help the employer understand what you would be like to work with and put you in situations that call for teamwork and good communication.
Assessment day guide
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 Numrical reasoning. The websites below provide you with further information on these tests and free practice tests you can use.
Job Test Prep
Practice Aptitude Tests
Walsall College Open Day - 23 June 2021
City of Wolverhampton College Open Day - 14-17 June 2021
Worldskills Live - 19-21 November 2021
The Inspire My Future - Apprenticeship and School Leaver Event - 1 October
50% off bus travel in the West Midlands
NUS apprentice extra card
Useful documents and websites
A guide to higher degree apprenticeships
Browse for Apprenticeships
National Careers Service
Walsall Works YouTube