UK Apprenticeships Explained

Everything you might want to know about apprenticeships in the UK

The Basics of Apprenticeships

An apprenticeship is a way of training for a profession that combines paid, on-the-job training with some accompanying study. Typically an apprentice might work 4 days a week with their employer and then have 1 day’s study with a training provider. An apprenticeship is a genuine job from day 1. It is a good way for the apprentice to earn while they learn and to be certain they are building skills that will be valuable in the “real world”. For organisations, taking on an apprentice is a chance to train employees from day one in the skills most useful to that profession, with support from the government.

In the UK apprenticeships have a history that stretches all the way back to the 12th Century and were historically restricted to certain trades. Modern apprenticeships can take place in all kinds of professions: plumbing, engineering, sport coaching, and hundreds more. Every apprenticeship leads to an industry-recognised standard or qualification.

There are strict rules set by the government that cover many aspects of apprenticeships, including minimum rates of pay, what level qualifications will be achieved as well as employment rights to protect the apprentice and the employer. The government also offer financial support to the employer to encourage the recruitment of apprentices.

Entry Requirements

Apprenticeships are available to anyone over the age of 16, and have no upper age limit. There will be different entry requirements depending on the industry, job role and apprenticeship level. Most require at least an English and maths GCSE, but if you do not have these it is still possible to start an apprenticeship – you will just need to reach that level by the end of the apprenticeship.

How Long Apprenticeships Last

An apprenticeship lasts 1 to 5 years, depending on the level. The minimum duration of each apprenticeship is based on the apprentice working 30 hours a week, including off-the-job learning. However, people with caring responsibilities or a disability may work reduced weekly hours and the length of the apprenticeship will be extended.

The Different Levels of UK Apprenticeships

In the UK there are 6 different levels of apprenticeships, which can be broken down into 4 stages:

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

How Much Apprenticeships Pay

How much an apprenticeship pays depends on a few different factors. The current minimum wage rate for an apprentice is £6.40 per hour.  This rate applies to apprentices under 19 and those aged 19 or over who are in their first year. Apprentices aged 19 or over who have completed their first year must be at least the national minimum wage rate for their age (which ranges from £8.60 to £11.44 per hour).

This is the legal minimum pay but most receive more. The Apprenticeship Pay Survey in 2019 estimated the average hourly pay received by apprentices was £7.56 an hour for level 2 and 3 apprentices.

Apprentices will be paid for their normal working hours and the training that forms the education part of their apprenticeship (usually one day a week).

Apprentices must be put on a contract with their employers that gives them the same rights and responsibilities as any other employee. This means apprentices will get a minimum of 20 days paid holiday per year, plus bank holidays. The employer is obliged to offer apprentices the same benefit package as other employees.

The Training Provider

The training provider delivers the off-the-job learning to the apprentice and will be continually monitoring the apprentices progress towards achieving their qualifications. They work closely with the employer to ensure the apprentice has all the support they need to complete the apprenticeship. Together with the employer they ensure the apprentice receives:

  • An induction programme
  • A training plan that covers both on- and off-the-job learning
  • Regular progress reviews
  • Opportunities to put into practice what they are learning in their off-the-job training
  • Mentoring and support

In England, government funding will cover the majority of the cost of this training and any assessments that take place as part of the apprenticeship

The Coach Core Apprenticeship

Coach Core is not an employer or a training provider. Instead we bring together a local network of employers together with our training provider partner to create a cohort of 16 to 20 apprentices who will go through the journey together. This network creates locally focused support system that can provide the apprentices many more opportunities than they would receive otherwise. Coach Core also supports employers with a grant towards the costs of bringing on an apprentice.

The Coach Core apprenticeship is a Community Activator Coach, which is a Level 2 designed to deliver fun, inclusive and engaging activities that help whole communities to adopt and keep to a physically active lifestyle. We believe that this apprenticeship can have a positive impact not just on the apprentices and employers, but also the communities in which they live and work.

Learn More

Find an Apprenticeship

You can contact the National Apprenticeship Helpdesk 0800 015 0400 or by email.