Young man in a blue boiler suit working a workshop

An apprenticeship is a “learn and earn” programme. Apprenticeships allows you to work alongside experienced staff and study, as well as earn wages. An apprenticeship usually lasts for 1-4 years depending upon the field.

Many people confuse apprenticeships with internship programmes. An internship is a temporary work experience whereas apprenticeship is a formal employment programme. While both focus on shaping your career, there are differences between them.

As the price of a degree continues to rise, the apprenticeship is becoming a popular alternative, and are a good way to help school leavers prepare for their future career. For more information on the apprenticeship levels, please see our apprenticeship qualifications page.

The idea may seem appealing but it is important to know the benefits of the program before enrolling on one.

  • It pays to learn: Apprenticeships will pay for you while you learn. It's also likely that you'll also benefit from incremental wage increases as the programme proceeds.
  • It pays off: The salary of an apprentice is much higher in comparison to school leavers without this qualification.
  • Plenty of options: There are plenty of apprenticeships available in many different sectors and industries. 
  • Time: Apprenticeships can take as little as one year, and as you are being paid to learn they are far less of a burden than attending university. 

Some of the top trending apprenticeships currently on offer include:

1. Finance

There is no doubt that the financial sector of any firm is huge, so the abundance of financial apprentices is no surprise. You can consider the apprenticeships in investment banking, fund managing, auditing or as a manager or research analyst if you are better with numbers. You can even opt for accountancy, consulting, etc to gain skills and earn. PwC and M&G Investments offer the great apprenticeship program for school leavers to become fully-qualified chartered accountant.

2. Engineering

Engineering apprenticeships are among the highest paying. Engineering is a widespread field and you can chose from civil, mechanical, automobile, electrical, etc. Rolls Royce and BAE Systems are running a successful apprenticeship programme. They work with elite technical apprenticeships which means that their programmes are 4-6 years long. The IT sector have the maximum number of apprenticeship programmes, while apprentices in these sectors must have strong problem solving ability and can progress to leadership.

3. Electricians

Being an electrician is the ticket to skilled trade industry, and an apprenticeship lasts four to five years. There are different options like VDV installer technician, residential wireman, etc. On an initial level, an electrical apprenticeship will include helping others work, holding tools, cleaning your work station or basic tasks but this responsibility will increase over time. SPARKS offers a great apprentice programme for students.

4. Team Leadership and Management

There are a number of different industries providing apprenticeships in roles such as team leader, floor manager or supervisor. The skills gained while working in these fields are transferable in nature i.e. they could be used in both the public and private sectors. The key responsibilities in these role are managing employees, monitoring budgets, and dealing with any conflicts. 

People in lab coats holding up a sign saying Higher Level Apprenticeships

Image credit: Northern Ireland Executive/ flickr

5. Art and design

While learning in college can give you a theoretical knowledge, practical work is different. Working in a gallery or fashion designing firm can enhance your knowledge practically.

6. Digital marketing

Marketing is the growing industry, and as a result there are increases in job opportunities. Social media and marketing companies offer great schemes for students to develop themselves into management and marketing employees. The creative CV with work experience in marketing is looked at positively.

7. Legal

The government is supporting school-leavers by launching different apprenticeship schemes within law. One such scheme is to be a qualified solicitor without a university degree. Gordons and Fieldfisher have a training programme with the Chartered institute of Legal Executives, qualifying people as chartered legal executives. Many have partnership apprentice program with universities, for example Co-operative Legal Services is partnered with Manchester Metropolitan University.

8. Energy

Energy is the fastest growing apprenticeship programme which offers a range of scheme for school leavers. You'll have a chance to work as a renewable energy engineer, hydrologist, or geologist, etc. There are number of energy-related programmes in environmental and agricultural fields which gives you a chance to work as ecologist, or an environmental scientist. The National Grid provides a large apprenticeship programme offering engineer training programmes like gas operations and power system design.

9. Customer service

This apprenticeship may seem vague, but it is one of the most growing industries if you have good interpersonal and communication skills. In this programme you will work to understand customer complaints and handle them efficiently. Customer services are mostly used by retailers and financial services where you will work in a store or call centre. Boots is offering the apprenticeship program with two different schemes.

10. Sport and fitness

Nowadays everyone is very conscious about fitness and sport. JCA, Kingswood and PGL offer different schemes and apprenticeships include adventure activity jobs, elite athlete and various outdoor activity vacancies. If you have any idea about sport or activities, then these programmes can have the positive effect on your CV and enhance your future growth.

There are many other programmes which may not be so on-trend but can still be considered as an option. These include: 

  • Business
  • Administration
  • Animal care
  • Armed forces
  • Childcare
  • Construction
  • Beauty and hairdressing
  • Healthcare
  • Film and TV
  • Transport

An apprenticeship is popular, so not all applicants are considered. Every industry has set its own standards and requirements. Selection for the programme depends on your proficiency, and your ability to solve problem and handle complex tasks.

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