One common question we hear a lot regarding apprenticeships is whether you need to have work experience before you apply for one. As many apprenticeships are undertaken by school leavers as an alternative to college or university, we recognise that applying for a job may be a completely new experience for some.
The most important thing to remember that even though an apprenticeship is very similar to a standard job, there is an additional element of off-the-job training. This is extremely important for those who may not have had any work experience in the past, as it means that you can begin a job through an apprenticeship and learn the skills and knowledge you need to do it as you go.
Work experience is a great way to show an employer some of the skills you already have. Apprenticeships can be competitive, so the more you can stand out, the better. Suppose you have work experience in a similar industry to the apprenticeship you are applying for. In that case, you can show them that you already understand some of the processes or tasks you will be doing. If your experience isn’t related, it’s still a great way to demonstrate your ‘soft skills’, such as teamwork, communication, timekeeping and leadership.
Having said this, work experience is not the only way to demonstrate these things to an employer. Maybe you feel like you have never had any work experience, but you have taken part in a team sport or volunteered to mentor other students in your school. Any extra-curricular activities will have helped you develop some of the critical skills you will need during your apprenticeship. For this reason, not having any work experience should never be a reason that you don’t start an apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships start at intermediate level, which are level 2 qualifications. This means that employers hiring at this level will recognise that many of the applicants will be applying straight from school and might not have had the chance to do work experience. All an employer will want to see is that you have enthusiasm and dedication towards the apprenticeship. Having the experience to go with this will be a bonus.
Could work experience be a requirement?
The way apprenticeships work means that each employer sets their entry requirements and criteria for the job. This means that an employer could ask for specific work experience if they wanted to. This is more likely to the case with higher-level apprenticeships. As well as work experience, higher-level apprenticeships may also ask you to have completed the previous level before applying. For example, an employer may decide you cannot begin the level 4 apprenticeship in Animal training until you completed the level 2 animal care assistant apprenticeship.
In summary, work experience is a great thing to have whatever you are applying for, and it can help boost your application for an apprenticeship. However, it is not always essential, so don’t be put off if you don’t have it. For more help on finding work experience and its benefits, head to our dedicated guide.