Higher Apprenticeships

You’re probably hearing a lot about apprenticeships at the moment, and we know how confusing the different names, levels and qualifications can be. We’ve created this guide to help you understand the four different types of apprenticeships available to you.

Although there are big differences, all apprenticeships have certain thing in common. If you do an apprenticeship, you will:

  • Earn a wage of at least £3.50 an hour, and often much more.
  • Train for your job, gaining practical skills for work.
  • Work towards skills-based and knowledge-based qualifications, such as awards, certificates and diplomas.
  • Apply for your apprenticeship through the employer, not a college or university.

‘In all 4 types of apprenticeships, you’ll gain skills and qualifications in a paid role’

Now we’ve covered the basics, its time to take an overview of the different types of apprenticeships:

What apprenticeships are there?

So what apprenticeships are there exactly? There are 4 different “levels”:

Intermediate apprenticeships

An intermediate apprenticeship, often known as an entry-level apprenticeship, is a great way to gain the basic skills you need to do a job. They usually last between one and two years and give you a work-based qualification, such as an NVQ level 2, and a knowledge-based qualification like a BTEC. Once complete, they are equivalent to five 4 -grade GCSEs.

You’ll need to be 16 or over to do an intermediate apprenticeship, and have “functional skills” – in other words, 4+ GCSEs in English and maths. Don’t worry if you don’t have these GCSEs, as you can pick up equivalent functional skills qualifications on many intermediate apprenticeship courses.

There are intermediate apprenticeships in more than 1,200 jobs, and in 2016-17, more than over 259,430 young people started an intermediate apprenticeship. The chances are there’s something for you whatever you want to do, whether it’s in medicine and healthcaresport and fitnessIT and the internet or art and design.

Advanced apprenticeships

Advanced apprenticeships are one step up from intermediate apprenticeships, and help you gain deeper skills and understanding in your chosen career. They last around two years – sometimes longer – and give you similar qualifications to an intermediate apprenticeship, but at a higher level. You can expect to gain an NVQ level 3 or similar, a BTEC or similar, and come out with the equivalent of two A-level passes.

Again, you’ll usually need five GCSE passes at grade 4+, including maths and English, and it will help if you have GCSEs in subjects related to your apprenticeship. You can also begin an advanced apprenticeship if you have a related intermediate apprenticeship.

Higher apprenticeships

A higher apprenticeship gives you the chance to gain higher-education qualifications as well as skills qualifications like NVQs. You could end up with higher national diploma – equivalent to the second year of a three-year university degree – a foundation degree, or even a full-blown undergraduate degree, as well as an NVQ level 4 or equivalent.

You’ll need five GCSEs at 4 or higher and a QCF level 3 qualification – in plain English, this means the IBCP program or the equivalent of two A-level passes. Most higher apprentices are at least 18 due to the qualifications needed to begin the course.

Higher apprenticeships are rewarding, giving you advanced skills and qualifications, and good job prospects. They are also demanding. You’ll spend some of your time at college or university studying the higher-education part of your qualification, and have to study in the evening and at the weekends.