Apprenticeships: Earn While You Learn

More and more employers are now welcoming apprentices, which means that there are a wealth of exciting opportunities out there, just waiting to be grabbed! Read on to find out more about apprenticeships and read one person’s success story.

What is an apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships are a great way of learning practical and vocational skills while on the job. An apprentice earns a wage, holiday pay and studies towards a related qualification (usually at a college for one day a week).

What types of apprenticeships are there?
There are many opportunities available in the following categories: agriculture, horticulture and animal care; arts, media and publishing; business, administration and law; construction, planning and the built environment; education and training; engineering and manufacturing technologies; health, public services and care; information and communication technology (ICT); leisure, travel and tourism or retail and commercial enterprise.

Who can apply for an apprenticeship?
Anyone aged 16 or over who is eligible to work in the UK and not in full time education can apply.

What qualifications do you achieve? How long does it take?
There are currently three levels of apprenticeship – intermediate level (the equivalent of 5 GCSEs), advanced level (the equivalent of 2 A level passes) and higher, which can lead to NVQ level 4 and above or a foundation degree. Apprenticeships take 1 to 4 years to complete depending on their level and can sometimes lead to a job offer on completion.

How do I apply?
Contact the National Apprenticeship Service on 08000 150 400 or search online for apprenticeships at www.gov.uk.

Case study – Toby Schofield

Toby Schofield

Toby Schofield, aged 21, from Bognor Regis, always believed that an apprenticeship was the right career route for him. So after completing his GCSEs, he started looking for the right apprenticeship straight away. When no vacancies were available at his chosen employer, The Creative Woodworking Company, also in Bognor Regis, he decided to do a work experience placement there to get his foot in the door.

“I wanted to gain experience and show my commitment which I hoped would lead to an apprenticeship,” Toby said. His employer soon spotted Toby’s talent, and in August 2012, when he was 18, he started his intermediate apprenticeship in construction.

“I initially worked in a small team alongside my manager who gave me the opportunity to put the skills I learned into practice,” Toby added. “I looked after stock and supplies and worked on bespoke joinery projects.” Toby also learned about the theoretical aspects of his trade by attending classes at Chichester College.

At the end of his apprenticeship in August 2013, Toby gained a Level 2 NVQ in Wood Occupations and in August 2013, he progressed to level 3. He completed this in September 2014, becoming the first in his group to do so.

Still employed at the company, he now often has responsibility for running the workshop and on-site jobs; alongside his main job and with the blessing of his employer, he also takes his own commissions too.

Although Toby describes himself as shy by nature, he makes an effort to build customer rapport.

“I always make the effort to talk to customers to show how we care about the job. After one particular job, the customer filled in a feedback form and gave me 10 out of 10 scores for my work and service. This helped the business, and my employer was very pleased. As well as learning practical skills, experiences like this gained through my apprenticeship have helped me to grow in confidence too.”

Having done some work in his own time to promote Joinery apprenticeships at events, both in Sussex schools and also at careers events run by the City Livery Companies in London, he was put forward by the Worshipful Company of Joiners & Ceilers to receive a City & Guilds Achievement Award which, was presented by HRH the Princess Royal at Buckingham Palace last May. In recognition of how speedily and well he completed his apprenticeship frameworks and also the work he has done in schools, he was also awarded the Chichester College Ambassador Star of 2014 Award last November.

These accolades are in addition to being named the Intermediate Apprentice of the Year in the South Central region at the regional stage of the National Apprenticeship Awards in 2013 and also being highly commended in the national final.

Toby said: “My apprenticeship has given me belief in my potential – one day I would like to run my own business!”

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