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.

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
Intermediate 2 GCSE
Advanced 3 A 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.

Next steps

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: