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Information and advice for young people in Suffolk

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Apprenticeship FAQs: Everything you need to know

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On this page, we have the answers to everything you might need to know about apprenticeships.

Why, what, where, when, how, who?

1. What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a great way to combine on the job learning, working whilst earning a qualification and wage. You will learn and train with your employer and get all the skills, knowledge and experience you need to get a job later on. 

2. Why choose an apprenticeship?

By choosing an apprenticeship, you are choosing to kick start your career by learning on the job whilst you are learning. You will gain valuable skills, experience and be paid for your time. 

3. What is the difference between a traineeship and apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a twelve month (minimum) long work-based qualification in which the apprentice will gain qualifications, skills and experience in their chosen field. Apprenticeships are a full time job role, this means they are entitled to minimum wage for an apprentice of £3.30 an hour (for under 19s). A traineeship is a work placement of between 6 weeks and five months and this is an unpaid placement. To find out more, visit our page on traineeships.

4. What are the benefits of doing an apprenticeship?

Some of benefits of an apprenticeship include getting paid holidays, having a real job, earning a wage and gaining valuable skills and experience that will kick start your career. 

5. Where do I find apprenticeships?

Most apprenticeships in Suffolk can be found on www.apprenticeships.org.uk and www.thesource.me.uk/vacancies, but some employers do advertise vacancies on their own websites so be sure to look out for these. 

You can also download our free yojo app to search for apprenticeships on the move! Pick your favourite industries, shortlist jobs and get notifications of new apprenticeships. Find out more about the yojo app.

6. How is it different from full time college?

An apprenticeship gives you the opportunity to gain on the job experience and training. You will be studying for the same qualification, but earning a wage and gaining the experience and skills within the workplace. 

7. Will I get a qualification doing an apprenticeship?

Yes. During your apprenticeship, you will study a technical certificate, NVQ and complete your functional skills. 

8. What are the different apprenticeship levels and how do they work?

There are different levels of apprenticeships that require qualifications. The most common are Level 2 (Intermediate) apprenticeships, for apprentices who are educated to GCSE level. The advanced level apprenticeship (Level 3) is for apprentices who either have A levels, have completed a level two or equivalent. Higher level apprenticeships are for apprentices that have completed their NVQ Level 3. 

9. What are working hours like and how long will an apprenticeship last?

An apprenticeship must be a minimum of 30 hours a week. If you are aged 16-18 you can work up to 37 hours a week. If you are 18+ you can work up to 48 hours a week.

Apprenticeships can take between one year and seven years, Apprenticeships usually last around two / three years. The minimum time an apprenticeship can last is twelve months.

10. Why is the pay different?

The pay is different because you are training as an apprentice and are still learning. The idea is that your pay starts low and as you learn and start to be able to work independently, your wages increase to reflect this. The minimum wage for an apprentice is £3.30 an hour. If you are 19 and have completed the first year of your apprenticeship, you are entitled to National Minimum Wage for your age. For more information you can visit the GOV site

11. What happens if I already have a job?

You can turn almost any job into an apprenticeship. To do this, you will need to talk to your employer and work out the best option. If you are 16-18, turning a job into an apprenticeship is free. If you are 19-24, there may be a contribution required from your employer. More information is available to you and your employer at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

You can also email Suffolk County Council's Apprenticeships Team at apprenticeships@suffolk.gov.uk, or call them on 01473 260922.

12. What are the different NVQ levels equivalent to?

NVQ 1 is equivalent to GCSE, City and Guilds level 1 , RSA stage 1, vocational certificate and basic literacy and numercy qualifications such as Wordpower or Numberpower.

NVQ 2 is equivalent to Stage 2 diploma, Pitmans certificate, City and Guilds Craft, BTEC. 1 A Level, GNVQ or SNVQ.

NVQ 3 is equivalent to City & Guilds (level 3, part 3 or advanced), 2 or more A levels, GNVQ/ SNVQ.

NVQ 4 is equivalent to diploma, foundation degree, nursing or teaching qualification, HNC

NVQ 5 is equivalent to a diploma, HND.

NVQ 6 is equivalent to an Undergrad Certificate or Honours degree.

NVQ 7 is equivalent to a Graduate diploma or Masters degree.

NVQ 8 is equivalent to a Post Graduate diploma or Doctoral degree.

13. Do you have to have formal qualifications?

Different apprenticeships require different qualifications in order to be able to do the job. If you took your GCSE's more than 5 years ago, you will be required to take an English and maths test.

14. Are there any age restrictions?

You have to be at least 16 and have finished year 11 to be able to do an apprenticeship. There is no upper age limit and apprenticeships are open to everyone.

15. Can I go to university after my apprenticeship?

Yes. Not all university accept NVQ's so you would need to check beforehand. Also, if you have a degree, you will not be eligible for additional funding for your employer.

16. If I have a degree, can I do an apprenticeship?

Yes - you can do an apprenticeship but you will not be eligible for funding. That means your employer would have to pay your training costs. 

17. What support is available for me during my apprenticeship?

You will have access to support throughout your apprenticeship. The Suffolk Apprenticeship Service can be contacted by email on apprenticeships@suffolk.gov.uk, or you can call 01473 260922 to speak to someone from the Apprenticeships Team.

They will be able to help you with your CV, book 121 appointments with an advisor, and you can request an apprenticeships information pack by email.

18. Can I take holidays?

Yes, you are entitled to paid holidays (about 20+ days a year) as well as bank holidays.

19. Can I take maternity leave?

Yes, you are entitled to Statutory Maternity Leave of 52 weeks with Statutory Maternity pay for up to 39 weeks.

20. Are any of mine or my parent's benefits affected?

Due to the number of the hours required to do an apprenticeship (minimum of 30 a week), your benefits could be affected. Your parent's benefits could also be affected, depending on their financial situation. If they are receiving child benefit, this could impact on the amount they receive or their benefits may cease.

To find out more about your situation, contact your local district and borough council or visit www.dwp.gov.uk.

21. Are there any discount schemes?

Yes. There is an NUS Card (for apprentices) that costs just £11 and gives you hundreds of discounts at loads of shops, online, in restaurants and more. Apply for one at www.apprenticeextra.co.uk.

There is also a travel card called the Endeavour Card which is open to young people aged 16 - 19 for 25% discount on bus fares. Find out more about the Endeavour Card.

22. What is RPA and what does it mean for me?

RPA stands for Raising the Participation Age. This means that all young people must remain in some form of further education, learning or apprenticeship until the age of 18. To learn more about RPA and what is means for you, visit our RPA FAQ page.

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