Ten misconceptions about apprenticeships

2 min read

Here, Sue Husband, director of the National Apprenticeship Service, takes us through some of the misunderstandings around apprenticeships.

Myth 1. Apprenticeships are for people who don’t do well at school

Apprenticeships are simply an alternative route into skilled employment. They are a great way to earn while you learn, gain vital work experience and set yourself on a fast-track to a successful career.

Myth 2. Apprenticeships are only available in manual industries

While this might once have been the case, apprenticeships are now available in over 1,500 occupations across 170 industries, ranging from nuclear to fashion, law, banking and defence.

Myth 3. Apprenticeships are low quality

On the contrary – quality is at the heart of apprenticeships which is why the government is launching a new Institute for Apprenticeships this April to ensure all apprenticeships deliver the same high quality training. Employer trailblazers, a group of employers that have come together to design new apprenticeship standards, have also been involved in developing new apprenticeship standards so that apprentices can be sure that they are learning the skills that employers need.

Myth 4. Apprenticeships don’t lead to good qualifications

Apprenticeships offer a ladder of opportunity so learners can progress from traineeships and intermediate (Level 2) apprenticeships right up to higher and Degree apprenticeships. More and more people are now choosing an apprenticeship as an alternative to university while nearly a fifth (19%) of advanced apprentices progress to higher education over time following their apprenticeship.

Myth 5. Apprentices will never earn very much

Apprentices must receive at least the national minimum wage (currently £3.40 per hour for 16-18 year olds and those aged 19 plus in the first year of their apprenticeship), though many employers choose to pay more. In the long-term, individuals with an advanced apprenticeship earn between £77,000 and £117,000 more over their lifetime than similar individuals with Level 2 qualifications. While those completing a higher (degree level) apprenticeship could see increased earnings of an estimated £150,000 over their lifetime.

Myth 6. Apprentices are only given donkey work

Apprenticeships are full time paid jobs with training and many high quality, prestigious companies offer them. According to Department for Education research, a quarter of former apprentices (23%) secure a promotion within 12 months of qualifying.

Myth 7. Businesses are not taking apprentices on

In 2015/16 apprenticeship participation reached a record high of nearly 900,000 in 2015/16, with 625,000 individuals starting their apprenticeship since May 2015. And at any one time there are up to 28,000 quality apprenticeship vacancies available on Find an apprenticeship.

Myth 8. Apprenticeships are only for school leavers

Apprenticeships are available to people of all ages making them a great option for anyone looking to change career, improve their skills in order to secure a new role or re-enter the labour market after having taken time out for whatever reason.

Myth 9. Employers don’t value apprenticeships

Research indicates that apprenticeships boost productivity to businesses by on average £214 per week so more and more employers are now choosing to grow their business through apprenticeships. And with employers saying that former apprentices are 15% more employable than those with other qualifications, apprenticeships genuinely provide a stepping stone to a brighter future.

Myth 10. An apprenticeship won’t lead to a full time job

In fact, more than 90% of apprentices stay in employment after their course ends, with 67% remaining with the same employer.