As National Apprenticeship Week comes to an end, we look at how they work, some of the apprenticeships on offer and talk to a mum who did one.
Apprenticeships offer a way to earn while you learn and they are not just for young people. They can also be a good way of changing career path.
“You might be a young person just starting out or you might be a graduate whose been in the world of work for years – either way an apprenticeship could be the route for you,” says Colin Long, the University of Cambridge’s Apprenticeship Manager.
“Traditionally these schemes have been seen as training for young people leaving school, but now apprenticeships are available for anyone of any age and they range from entry level qualifications right through to degree level qualifications. Today, apprenticeships are for everyone.”
This week is National Apprenticeship Week in England and there is lots of information around. But what is an apprenticeship and what form can it take?
An apprenticeship is a paid job where the employee learns and gains valuable experiences. Apprentices spend at least 20% of their working hours completing classroom-based learning with a college, university or training provider which leads to a nationally recognised qualification.
An apprenticeship can start at any level, but some may require previous qualifications such as English or maths GCSEs and additional training in English or maths to ensure the apprentice is at the right level.
Figures released this week by London Progression of Collaboration show the number of new entry-level apprenticeship starts has fallen by almost three-quarters (72 per cent) since 2014/15, while the number of new higher level apprenticeship starts – often taken by older workers – increased by 400 per cent during the same period.
In the last year, the Government has also launched Flexi-Job Apprenticeships. These are designed to ensure that those sectors and occupations where short-term contracts or other non-standard employment models are the norm can access apprenticeships. Under the scheme an agency can employ an apprentice directly for the duration of their apprenticeship but arrange placements for them with host businesses or an apprentice can secure multiple short employment contracts directly with businesses that support the requirements of the apprenticeship. The aim is to broaden the number of employers who can recruit apprentices – particularly those in the creative and construction industries where short-term contracts are common, but may not be able to offer a full year contract.
There have been many concerns about the way the scheme is funded through the apprenticeship levy. Another issue is pay. While new apprenticeship jobs may start on lower salaries, many people opt to do an apprenticeship with their existing employer and often retain their current salary while doing so. Moreover, some new apprenticeship jobs pay more and some employers are willing to negotiate if you can offer additional skills and experience.
Two employers who are targeting working mums for apprenticeship positions are Pizza Hut and Starbucks. Starbucks is offering a barista apprenticeship, working on a Hospitality Team Member Level 2 Apprenticeship. The salary is between £9.50 and £10.85 per hour. Meanwhile, Pizza Hut are offering two apprenticeship roles: one is for a Kitchen Team Member Apprenticeship, working towards the Level 2 Production Chef Apprenticeship standard over the course of 14 months, an the other is for a Guest Server Apprenticeship, working towards the Level 2 Hospitality Team Member Apprenticeship standard over the course of 14 months. Pizza Hut says 80% of its Restaurant General Managers started out as team members.
Mum of three Mel Webster did an apprenticeship and turned from car mechanic to Sky DTV home service engineer. Two years on, she says she sees a good career path forward for her and is keen to progress.
Mel, who has received recognition for her customer services skills through the Sky stars scheme, says: “Every day of my working life is different and that there is lots of opportunity for development.”