How to Find an Apprenticeship: The Complete Guide

Written by Calvin Bowers

Are you looking for an apprenticeship but don’t know where to start? Take a look at our ultimate guide for everything you need to know.

Why Choose an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are a way to earn while you learn. They are a real job in a sector you want to train in. They allow you to combine working, gaining experience and earning a wage, with training, learning and practising the knowledge and skills needed for that industry.”

During the working element of an apprenticeship, apprentices are responsible for their own tasks. Enabling apprentices to learn the practical skills needed for the role. You usually spend around 80% of your time working in the job, getting stuck in straight away and gaining the experience you need. The other 20% of your time will be spent off-the-job training, usually with an external training provider, university or college. In this part of the apprenticeship, you will study for your role’s relevant qualification, whether that be a chemistry degree or a childcare qualification. As well as preparing for your End Point Assessment.

EPA’s: The EPA (End-Point Assessment) is the final assessment of any apprenticeship. The details of the EPA are outlined in the apprenticeship standard. Typically, the EPA is delivered by the training provider or an external organisation.

Apprenticeships are great for people who want to get stuck into work but maybe don’t have much experience or the right qualifications for a particular industry. They enable apprentices to train and earn a valuable qualification without any tuition fees, whilst earning a real wage! Apprenticeships are designed by employers and training providers to ensure that all the skills and information you learn are exactly what you need for that job and the broader industry.

Here are the 12 steps you need to consider when looking to find an apprenticeship:

1. Think About Your Strengths, Interest and Personal Qualities

While apprenticeships are open to people of any age, they are most often taken up by those at the start of their careers. Knowing where to start when it comes to your career and work-life can be extremely overwhelming, so begin by thinking about yourself and what you already know.

Think about what you enjoy, what you are good at and most importantly, what you might want to spend your time doing. From here, you can begin to establish some of the possible routes you might like to take. If you know you are a great problem solver and love working with numbers, you know you might like to work in finance or public policy.

2. Research Apprenticeships and What They Are

There are a lot of misconceptions about apprenticeships. Before you start looking for one, make sure you know exactly what they are, why you should do one, how to apply for one and what different career paths there are available to you if you did an apprenticeship. When understanding apprenticeships, it’s essential that you recognise both the working element and the training element. Ensure you understand what a training provider is and how they will be involved in your job as an apprentice. Visit our glossary for more information.

3. Find Out What Industries are Out There

When you start researching different industries, sectors and the various roles available in them, you may be surprised by the number of jobs that you had never heard of before or had never considered for yourself. Because of this, you must spend some time researching the various industries that offer apprenticeships. Due to their more recent popularity, many of the sectors that offer apprenticeships are in innovative and evolving fields such as digital creativity and science and technology. You may find an apprenticeship that is right for you in an industry you would have never thought of before.

You can browse industries using the career paths tool on the apprenticeship search feature of our website. For live examples, visit our apprenticeship board.

4. Track and Study the Companies You’d Love to Work For

A great way to find an apprenticeship is to find a company you would like to work for. Many of the UK’s largest businesses offer ways into their business through their early careers programmes, many of which include apprenticeships. When you find some businesses and organisations that interest you, keep an eye on their careers websites. They may have a recruitment drive each year, where they open up various opportunities. Most commonly, the businesses that will offer apprenticeships are those with a vocational trade or skill at their centre, such as engineering, fashion and textiles, childcare, television production etc.

You can find information on types of employers on our website.

5. Find Relevant Work Experience Opportunities

When you have decided that you want to do an apprenticeship and know what kind of sectors you might want to work in, it’s a good idea to do some work experience. Work experience can be beneficial for those who aren’t sure about which jobs and roles are right for them. For those at the beginning of their career, work experience is an excellent opportunity to taste what the world of work is like.

As well as trying out some of the skills and tasks you may end up doing in your career, you can meet others who have already taken that path and ask them what it’s like. Some organisations offer formalised work experience placements, which you may have to apply to; others may take students and young people on a more ad-hoc basis.

6. Attend Events and Careers Fairs

If you are still at school, college or university, and are thinking about finding an apprenticeship, attend one of the many careers events available to you. Careers fairs are an excellent opportunity to meet companies looking for recruits; you can meet the staff, hear about the business, ask any questions you may have, and quickly compare companies side by side.

As apprenticeships are much less widely promoted and understood than more traditional career routes such as university, these events are an essential place to find the correct information and hear from people who have experienced apprenticeships themselves.

Many careers events have gone online due to the pandemic; however, more people can access these events from across the UK. Research online what careers events are going on, not just in your institution but across the country.

7. Take the Work into Your Own Hands

When you are at the start of your career, a great way to build your skills and practice your craft is to incorporate your hobbies into something useful for your career. This doesn’t have to be a massive project. It doesn’t mean working all the time; it simply means using your spare time productively.

For example, suppose you are interested in working in digital marketing or the technology industry. In that case, you could make a website and create a weekly blog about your life. Or, if you are interested in fashion, try making some of your clothes at home. Whatever you do, it doesn’t have to be expensive!

8. Identify What You Want Out of an Apprenticeship

When searching for the right apprenticeship for you, you must identify why you want to do an apprenticeship. This will help you find the right path for you.

You might want to do an apprenticeship because you want to keep learning, but the traditional classroom environment doesn’t suit you. In that case, you may want to explore practical and vocational apprenticeships such as construction or childcare. You might want to do an apprenticeship because you want to get a proper qualification, but you don’t want to pay tuition costs. In that case, you should consider degree apprenticeships, as they enable apprentices to go to university while still earning a living

9. Think About Which Level Apprenticeship is Right for You

There are four different apprenticeship levels, each advancing in skill and qualification level; They are Intermediate, Advanced, Higher, and Degree. When you are looking for an apprenticeship, it’s important that you are searching for one at the correct level for you.

Intermediate apprenticeships (Level 2) – This is the lowest level of apprenticeship and is equivalent to 5 GCSE’s A*- C. This apprenticeship level is excellent for those who want to get into an apprenticeship straight from school aged 16.

Advanced apprenticeships (Level 3) – This apprenticeship level is equivalent to 2 A-level passes, which means it’s most common for those after further education, aged 18.

Higher apprenticeships (Level 4 and 5) – Higher apprenticeships begin at foundation degree level. These apprenticeships are for those jobs which need more specialised training and professional knowledge.

Degree apprenticeships (Level 6 and 7) – These are equivalent to Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. They are a joint programme between employers and universities or higher education institutions. They enable people to get a university education without paying tuition costs and while still gaining practical experience.

10. Remember Employers Advertise Apprenticeships in the Same Way as Jobs

Even though apprenticeships contain 20% training, they are still full-time regular jobs, which means you can search for them in the same way you would a regular job. You can find apprenticeships on the careers or vacancies section of a company’s website, or you can find them listed on job boards.

Here at Employing an Apprentice, we have our own apprenticeships board, full of apprenticeship opportunities from Level 2 up to Degree. We have apprenticeships live on there from well-known companies such as BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce and opportunities in childcare, dentistry, IT and more.

We are continually adding new opportunities up and down the UK to our apprenticeship board, so make sure to keep an eye on it over the coming weeks

11. Speak to Careers Advisors and Teachers

Make sure to speak to those around you when you are looking to find an apprenticeship. If you are still at school, college or university, you may have access to careers support. They will help you picture a career path and help you find some of the steps you will need to take to get on that path.

Careers advisors will also help you find out which level of apprenticeship is right for you as it can be slightly complicated. If you have previously gained qualifications in an area you no longer want to work or study in; you can go back and do an apprenticeship at a lower level. Have a look at our guide to who can start an apprenticeship for more information

12. Speak to Your Employer About Apprenticeships

If you want to do an apprenticeship but you are already employed, speak to your employer about apprenticeships within the company. This is an excellent way for you to grow and develop as an employee and mutually beneficial for both you and the employer.

If your employer is a large business, they may already pay into the Apprenticeship Levy. This means they may have money to use on apprenticeships.

Smaller employers can access funding through government grant schemes such as the £2000 incentive grant or a levy transfer.

We have lots of helpful guides for employers looking to employ apprentices on our website.

Common Types of Apprenticeships

Apprenticeship standards have replaced the old apprenticeship frameworks. They act as the blueprint for an apprenticeship, providing details of what the apprentice will learn, how they will be assessed, and what they will have achieved by the end of the apprenticeship. Groups of employers and training providers create Apprenticeship Standards to ensure that they are directly relevant to the world of work.

You can find information on each of the 570 apprenticeship standards by browsing our apprenticeship search tool. Here are some common industries and sectors and examples of apprenticeship standards within them.

Sector or Industry Example Apprenticeship Standards  
Digital Name: Digital User Experience Professional

Level: 6 (Degree Apprenticeship)

Reference: ST0470

Education and Childcare Name: Early years practitioner

Level: 2

Reference: ST0888

Health and Science Name: Clinical Dental Technician

Level: 5

Reference: ST0543

Marketing and PR Name: Marketing Executive

Level: 4

Reference: ST0596

Apprenticeship Alternatives

Doing an apprenticeship is great for people who have a job or industry in mind. It helps you get your foot in the door of a sector that you may have thought you needed prior experience or knowledge. Apprenticeships enable people to progress through a job by completing each level of apprenticeship related to that role. However, if you aren’t sure about what job you want to do or can’t pick the right sector for you, you might want to consider your options outside of apprenticeships.

Traineeships: Traineeships are for 16-24-year-olds, or 25 if you have an Education, Health, Care (EHC) plan, and are a short training course to prepare you for the world of work. They combine a short work placement with skills-based training. The aim of traineeships is to help those who aren’t yet prepared for work or an apprenticeship. Young people typically do them before an apprenticeship to build up their confidence, skills and experience.

University: If you are passionate about a subject, such as History or Chemistry, and want to spend time developing your academic knowledge and skills before you settle into a career, then university might be right for you. Visit our dedicated site for students and graduates for more information.

Work experience: You may feel that you want to spend some more time getting work experience before you commit to an apprenticeship. This way, you know what will be expected of you before you start an apprenticeship. You could either get a work experience placement or commit to working for a set period, such as a year.

Closing Thoughts 

Apprenticeships are a great alternative to work and education because they perfectly combine the two. They allow you to keep learning, developing and growing as a person. And they provide you with the valuable work experience that employers want.

To find apprenticeship-positive employers, visit our company profiles, and to find fantastic apprenticeship opportunities near you, head over to our apprenticeship board.

Why Have a Company Profile on Employing an Apprentice?2022-03-11T16:05:48+00:00

Having a profile on our site is an easy way to join our network and show yourself as an apprenticeship-positive employer. Our directory is a place where people interested in apprenticeships can find employers who are currently hiring or offer the kinds of opportunities they are looking for. By having a listing on our directory, you can show that you are one of these employers.

Apprenticeships are gaining more momentum every day, with more employers recognising the benefits of hiring apprentices and creating more earn and learn positions. By joining our directory, you are indicating that even when you don’t have apprenticeship vacancies open, that you support their role in the world of work, and you want to continue to support people as they train and learn through an apprenticeship.

On Average, How Long Does It Take to Find an Apprenticeship?2022-03-11T16:38:23+00:00

There is no set amount of time it takes to find and secure an apprenticeship. Just like regular jobs, you have to do your research, find one that suits you, apply for it, and then wait to hear back. This process can be lengthy, or if you are lucky could happen in a matter of weeks. Our advice would be to start looking, researching and thinking about apprenticeships early.  Don’t start looking for an apprenticeship the week before you want to begin one!

I’m Reading This as an Employer – Where Do I Find Apprentices?2022-03-11T16:28:27+00:00

Employers can find apprentices by advertising their vacancies in the right places. Despite the fact that apprenticeships are equivalent to a regular job, meaning they can be advertised in the same way, it can be beneficial to target apprentices directly.

You can do this by using an apprenticeship jobs board such as ours. Our board is specifically designed to help connect apprentices with excellent careers and employment opportunities such as yours. On our board, apprentices will be able to easily access information about the apprenticeship standard, training provider and employer. For more information, visit our apprenticeship board.

You can also find apprentices by reaching out to schools and colleges to highlight the opportunities you have to offer. You could even visit careers fairs to provide students with more information on your company and apprenticeships.

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Last Updated: Thursday September 14 2023
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