Setting off on a career path can be overwhelming for young people. As their parent, guardian or carer, you'll play a key role in guiding them as they take their next step. Whether they get top grades or don't thrive in academic environments, apprenticeships shouldn't be overlooked. With new higher and degree apprenticeships popping up each year, they could get the best of both worlds – learning and earning at the same time.
Award-winning entrepreneur Jamal Edwards MBE has worked with apprentices and grime legends to produce and release a music track.Listen to the track
Apprenticeships, but not as you know them
Perceptions of apprenticeships as entry-level, trade-based, low-quality courses persist – yet this couldn't be further from today's reality. Changes to funding, minimum requirements and the development of occupation-focused standards have driven up the quality of apprenticeships, and employers are taking notice. While earning a wage, apprentices gain highly transferable skills and training (which could include a degree) to set them up for a wide range of career paths. Alongside this, they'll gain hands-on experience in a real-world setting – an invaluable asset when it comes to future employment.
They'll earn a salary – and their training will be paid for
An apprenticeship can boost a young person's career, while offering great financial benefits. They'll be paid (at least the national minimum wage, but often a more competitive salary), and they'll spend at least 20% of their time completing off-the-job training – at no cost to them. This could include working towards a degree or other qualifications. At the same time, they'll gain experience in a real workplace, and develop important soft skills as they transition into the world of work.
They'll get experience in a relevant role, plus career-boosting skills
From digital marketing and teaching to dental healthcare and textile manufacturing, there's an apprenticeship for everyone – and the number available is constantly on the rise. You can use the Find an apprenticeship tool to see what's on offer. During the apprenticeship, your child will gain important insight into their chosen industry – and if they decide the occupation isn't for them, they'll be equipped with skills and experience to make them extremely employable, no matter what step they take next. In fact, 88% of apprentices remain in employment after completing their apprenticeship.
Levels of apprenticeships
Apprenticeships have the following equivalent educational levels:
|Name||Level||Equivalent educational level|
|Higher||4, 5, 6 and 7||Foundation degree and above|
|Degree||6 and 7||Bachelor's or master's degree|
Some apprenticeships also give you an additional qualification such as a diploma.
If your child isn't sure which route to take, it's worth remembering that they can keep their options open. They could apply for both university degrees and apprenticeships, for example, and make their final decision when they've had more time to research and reflect.
In the meantime, these useful resources will help you to support them:
- The government website is a great starting point for researching apprenticeships, from application criteria to pay and conditions
- The Amazing Apprenticeships website features a host of resources, including handy packs for parents
- Which? University has teamed up with the National Apprenticeship Service to create a downloadable guide to higher and degree apprenticeships
- The National Careers Service website is packed with tips, from interview advice to the top 10 questions your child could be asked
- The stories below will give you some great insight into apprentices' real experiences