Getting an Apprenticeship

30th March 2020 by Richard Allnutt

What are Apprenticeships?

  • Apprenticeships are real jobs with a recognised qualification.
  • Employers pay an apprenticeship salary- companies are free to pay what they want above the apprenticeship minimum wage (see here).
  • Employers usually advertise vacancies to create a competition for the job.
  • You compete for the job against other applicants.
  • Apprenticeships are available at different levels; Intermediate (Level 2), Advanced (Level 3), Higher (Level 4) and Degree (Level 6).
  • To get a Higher or Degree Apprenticeship you must have achieved a Level 3 qualification first (A-levels, T-levels, Level 3 Diplomas, Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship).
  • On a Degree Apprenticeship you get a competitive salary and your tuition fees paid for by the employer.

So, how can you gain a competitive edge and put yourself in with the best chance of becoming an apprentice?

CareerWave’s top tips for ‘Getting an Apprenticeship’

Create an account with the ‘Find an Apprenticeship Service’ at

Search for apprenticeships throughout the year. When a vacancy comes up it is because an employer needs someone. They might need someone at any time of the year. Therefore apprenticeships are advertised all year round. However, current school students are unable to start an apprenticeship before their ‘official’ school leaving date (last Friday in June of Year 11). Although college and sixth form students can start an apprenticeship at any time, they are more likely to finish their current learning first, meaning that they are also looking within the same timeframe as Year 11s.

Most employers advertise a few months before the start date. So, for students on a current study programme at school, sixth form or college, relevant vacancies are more likely to be advertised from around Easter onwards (i.e. with start dates for July onwards). However, it is also very important to know that lots of larger employers recruit people every year, usually with a September start date. Because of the huge number of people applying for these annual apprenticeship schemes, the employers will often advertise much earlier in the year. Therefore, the larger employers may advertise just before or just after Christmas.

Although vacancies might have start dates whilst you’re still in learning, searching for vacancies throughout the year can help you prepare for future applications. For example, you can learn about your local labour market by noting the most popular jobs and sectors in your postcode area. You can also find out about what you are paid, the main duties and the skills and personal qualities that the employers look for in a new recruit.

Register with Training Providers and Colleges. They can help you look for a vacancy and ultimately get one. The name of the training provider or college linked to each apprenticeship can be found in the job advertisements on (at the bottom of each of each vacancy). If you see a vacancy which you can’t apply for yet, you can directly contact the training provider or college. Some of these providers will actively put your name forward to employers and/or offer you employability support on a work study programme or a traineeship i.e. make you more ‘apprenticeship ready’.

Contact employers. If you or your family knows a local employer who might be interested in taking on an apprentice, you might be the person they wish to employ. Speculatively contacting local businesses is a way to find an apprenticeship, but be warned, it takes a lot of effort for potentially little return. However, CareerWave has spoken to large employers and they have said that they remember the names of the people who make contact with them and this can support their application. Therefore, if there is an employer who you want to work for, reach out to them (by e-mail, telephone or in person at an apprenticeship event), ask questions and generally show interest in the company.

Go direct to company websites. Larger companies often advertise their apprenticeship schemes on their own website too. They will likely have their own ‘Careers’ or ‘Apprenticeships’ landing page from which you may be able to ‘apply’ for vacancies. If you aspire to work for a specific large company, then you should go to direct to the company website.

Research the job role, skills and abilities. You need to tell the employer that you have the skills and abilities they are looking for. The National Careers Service website is recommended for quickly finding out about the skills and abilities needed for each job; (Job Profiles)

Find out more about apprenticeships at This website has loads of resources to inspire, inform and support your apprenticeship journey.

Cast your net wider. There are several other websites which advertise apprenticeship vacancies and, in some cases, act as an intermediary between you and the employers. Have a look at the following ones: