Higher Apprenticeships are Levels 4 and 5 and are rewarded the qualification equivalent to a foundation degree or higher education diploma, usually in the form of an NVQ Level 4 or 5.

A Higher Apprenticeship comes after intermediate and advanced, but before degree-level apprenticeships, and can take between one and five years to complete.

Higher Apprenticeship Entry Requirements

You must be 18 years or older and commonly need Level 2 and 3 qualifications, such as GCSE’s and A-Levels, to do a Higher Apprenticeship. However, you can apply for any level of apprenticeship without any of the preceding qualifications, although may need to complete them during the course of the apprenticeship.

Most commonly, people get into a Higher-Level apprenticeship by completing the previous two levels, but the requirements or qualifications for each apprenticeship are decided by the training provider. One thing to note is that it is typical for the company to offer you a permanent role after completing the apprenticeship, albeit in no way guaranteed.

Higher Apprenticeships Are Competitive

Higher Apprenticeships attract people from many different career paths, meaning they can be very competitive. For example, it’s possible to do a Higher Apprenticeship with a company you already work for but want to advance your skills. You may come to a Higher Apprenticeship after years of experience working in that field, as well as those leaving college and Sixth form, and those who have completed an Advanced Apprenticeship.

Therefore, there can be lots of competition for Higher Apprentice roles. Don’t let this put you off; apprenticeships are said to be one of the most significant solutions to youth unemployment in the UK, meaning there are more apprenticeship roles created each year.

Benefits of Higher Apprenticeships

Unemployment is a growing problem for young people: under 25s were two and a half times more likely to work in a sector that was shut down because of Covid-19. Higher apprenticeships are a great way to continue studying for a qualification while getting that important foot in the door of employment.

Higher apprenticeships offer the chance to get real-world experience in the area of employment that you ultimately want to work in, and this is something that many University graduates lack when they finish their course. They may have had a part-time job to see them through their studies but it is far more likely to be something like bar work and is very rarely in the field that they want to pursue. 

The experience you gain on the job in your apprenticeship and the skills that you have the chance to get to grips with, along with the contacts and friendships that you make will help you in the next stages of your career. Being able to get solid references from a company in your field is invaluable when looking for other work in the same industry.

It is also very possible that you will be kept on at the company once you complete your apprenticeship as they are a great way to overcome the skills gap caused by Covid and Brexit, as companies are placing a far greater premium on retaining staff than in previous years. 

What does a Higher Apprenticeship Entail?

As with all apprenticeships, you will study part-time for a qualification (at least 20% of your working hours), and for the rest of the time, you will work within the company. This is known as on-the-job training. You will be paid the same for both on-the-job and off-the-job training components.  

Each apprenticeship is different, and whether you study in-house, with a training provider or at a college or university depends on the Apprenticeship Standard. It is also possible that you will be allowed a remote option for your study, as more academic providers are exploring fully digital options than ever before. 

Higher Apprenticeships tend to be training you for a specific, highly skilled role or job within a company. This is because they are equivalent to a foundation degree level qualification meaning they may be replacing jobs previously aimed at college graduates. 

It is possible that the company has identified an area where they have a skills gap and they want you to train up and then fill it for them. This is an optimum solution as it means you won’t have to look for a job after you have completed your apprenticeship. It removes some of the stress of wondering what your next step is. 

You may be in charge of a team of people or a particular project, and while your apprenticeship mentor will always support you, you will take on harder tasks and broader responsibilities than in Level 2 or Level 3 apprenticeships.

This added level of responsibility can give you the chance to prove that you are making progress with your knowledge ad skills within the company. It is an opportunity to prove that you are taking what you are learning seriously and applying it to your everyday tasks in a satisfactory manner. 

Asking you to take on more responsibilities can be seen as a miniature test, to see how you are progressing and whether you need any further assistance in order to reach the level that is expected of you. 

You can do a Higher Apprenticeship in hundreds of industries such as Health and Care, Accounting, Space Engineering, Finance, Transport, Manufacturing, Media, Arts, and many more. There is an incredible amount of choice out there and there is surely something to suit almost everyone.

Higher Apprenticeship Example

The well-known motor manufacturing company Ford offers a four-year Higher Apprenticeship in engineering. In the apprenticeship you would spend one day a week at university and the rest of the time working for Ford operations. They offer a competitive salary and many employment benefits and require candidates to be enthusiastic and passionate to acquire the role.

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