Apprenticeships 101

Get Involved with HireHigher

2017 saw the launch of the UK apprenticeship levy, indicating a £2.5billion annual investment by 2019-2020 which is double the investment from 2010-2011. This figure alone is a clear indication that the UK government is taking a stance of improving options and choices for young people through apprenticeships.  

Historically, apprenticeships have wrongly been seen as the poorer cousin to university degrees, but we at HireHigher genuinely believe that 2017 is the year of the rebrand. Typically associated with students who “didn’t get the grades to go to university” or for trades professions only the true value of apprenticeships are only now becoming known – and perhaps due to businesses having their hands forced by the levy. Whatever the cause of the shift, the results are to be embraced and leveraged.

So what do you need to know? There is the levy, the courses, the eligibility but lets break it all down step by step:

The government bit: The Levy

The levy very simply put is a charge at 0.5% for labour bills above £3million per year, the money is held in a centralised pot and can be accessed through an online “apprenticeship” shop. Companies affected pay into this central pot every month. If the money in this pot is not spent for apprenticeships within 24 months it is lost so basically operating on a “use it or lose it” basis.

The online shop has access to a number of apprenticeships offered by approved providers and can range from HR to plumbing – and everything in between.

How do apprenticeships work:

Apprenticeships can vary both by level and discipline. This will depend on the employer and your current qualifications. The government stipulates that your employer has to allocate you the equivalent of one working day a week for learning opportunities. Some may do this on “day release” others may split the time up across the working week.

The “learn while you earn” concept is exactly what it says on the tin, and whilst the worry may be the “earning” side thing with regards to first job and work expectations the learning aspect shouldn’t be scoffed at. Working and learning at the same time is a huge responsibility and whilst your employer will be supportive there is a difference between supportive and accepting of excuses. You will be expected to juggle both, with many companies writing in rules to contracts and letters for you to pass modules successfully.

Who should apply for apprenticeships?

The biggest myth surrounding apprenticeships is that they are “for a certain type of person” not true. They are suitable for a wide variety of people, personalities, skill sets, grades, backgrounds and interests. Whether you have straight AAAs or quite the opposite eligibility will vary from company to company and programme to programme.

How can i apply for apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships must be advertised via a government portal: However there are other popular sites including: and but to name just two. These sites will allow you to identify employers and programmes near to the postcode of your choosing. Choosing an employer can always be difficult, as the fit will be extremely important to your success. Whether it be the culture, the values, the behaviours and the working arrangements, is becoming ever more popular for prospective employers to have a glimpse into the working life of their next employer.

Adelle Desouza

I'm the founder here at HireHigher, with the mission to ensure students can make informed choices on their options after education.


Find HireHigher across all social media, and help #StartTheRevolution today!