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Apprenticeships

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a paid job, offering training that lasts a minimum of 12 months and is for anyone aged 16 and over. During an apprenticeship, you’ll work with experienced staff and gain qualifications by doing practical and academic learning. Your employer will give you tasks to perform, and a training provider will equip you with the theoretical skills to perform those tasks.

As an apprentice, you’ll earn while you learn, so you can gain an industry-specific qualification without needing a student loan. You’ll be employed full-time (usually between 30-40 hours per week), which includes time spent with your training provider. On average you'll need to spend at least 6 hours a week doing off-the-job training. Apprentices receive a wage and, depending on individual circumstances, may be entitled to some benefits, too.


Construction apprenticeships are a highly valued entry route into the industry.

There are 100's of diverse, rewarding construction apprenticeships to choose from. You could be behind a drawing board, developing project management skills, training as a craftsperson and more.

Most people have heard of carpenters, bricklayers and architects, but there are also lots of apprenticeships for roles you might not have considered. Ever thought of becoming a steeplejack, a conservation expert, an archaeologist, or a tunnelling engineer? You can train for these roles and many more, as a construction apprentice.


What types of apprenticeships are there?

There are over 100 construction-related apprenticeships across various levels available. The length of your course will depend on your existing experience, qualifications and the job role you choose.

Apprenticeship levels correspond to specific qualifications, with higher numbers indicating more advanced qualifications. These levels often include NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications) or SVQs (Scottish Vocational Qualifications) as part of the apprenticeship framework. The complexity and academic equivalence of each level can vary by country, but in the UK and Europe, they are standardised for easy comparison.

Here's a simplified breakdown of apprenticeship levels and their academic equivalents:

Name 

Equivalent Educational Level 

Intermediate

GCSE 

Advanced

A-Level 

Higher

Foundation degree and above 

Degree 

Bachelor's or master's degree 

Name 

Equivalent Educational Level 

Foundation

Scottish National 4/5 or Higher 6

Modern

Higher 6, Advanced Higher 7, Awards, Scottish Baccalaureate

Graduate

Professional Development Awards 9-11

Name 

Equivalent Educational Level 

Foundation

GCSE

Standard

A-Level

Higher

HNC, Foundation degree or 1st year of Undergraduate degree

Degree

Full Honours degree

 

Each apprenticeship will have different entry requirements and advertised vacancies will state what these are. Employers will also take into consideration previous work experience and your enthusiasm and talent for the role.

You may find that the occupation you'd like to pursue does not offer standard apprenticeship programmes, however some specialist trades have something called Specialist Applied-Skills Programmes, which are also known as 'Sector Apprenticeships'.

Welsh apprenticeships are changing

From September 2022 construction apprenticeships in Wales will be different.

Visit the Skills for Wales website for full details on the changes and how they can empower learners with more opportunities for the future.

You can also talk to your local college or training provider in Wales about them.

Should I do an apprenticeship or go to university?

It's a good question! There are benefits to completing a degree or an apprenticeship. Employers hold both routes in high regard.

Construction-related university courses often focus on theoretical study, but many include practical experience in the form of a year in industry. If you complete a higher or degree level apprenticeship, your qualification will be equivalent to an undergraduate or masters degree, but you’ll have gained much more hands-on experience.

Apprenticeship

  • Takes 1 - 5 years to complete, depending on the apprenticeship level
  • Start your career straight out of school with little to no qualifications
  • Time split between your employer and training provider (typically 1 day a week off-the-job training)
  • Focus is on learning hands-on skills relating to a specific job role
  • Over 100 roles can be pursued through apprenticeships, with more being added
  • Earn as you learn, with no tuition fees or student loans.

University

  • Full-time degrees take 3 - 4 years to complete
  • You can apply for higher-level jobs after graduation
  • Time spent in lectures and seminars or on individual study - or can be via distance-learning
  • Focus is on academic study, although many construction-related degrees offer a year in industry
  • 1000’s of courses to choose from, which could lead to careers in construction
  • You’ll pay tuition fees of up to £9,520 per year in the UK (correct as of 2023).

How do I find an employer?

In order to become a construction apprentice, you’ll need to find an employer who can provide on-the-job training. This could be a small or large business, a local firm, a family member or a self-employed person.

If you haven’t got an employer yet, don’t worry. There are lots of ways to find someone who wants to hire you as an apprentice:

  • Apply for apprenticeships in England, Scotland  or Wales 
  • Register and upload your CV to job sites such as Indeed or Totaljobs , where you’ll also be able to set up job alerts that get sent to your email, and employers can also contact you directly.
  • Go direct to construction companies’ websites to check the apprenticeships/vacancies section and follow their social media channels.
  • Contact your local college, specialist training provider or apprenticeship managing agency to register your interest as they may be able to help you find an employer.
  • Ask your friends, family or neighbours to see if they have any apprenticeships where they work.

When speaking to employers, let them know that, depending on their circumstances, they could receive up to £14,000 in grants from the government or Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) for taking you on. This will help them to meet the costs of employing you.

Funding is also available via the Apprenticeship Levy or through certain government incentives. This will help them to meet the costs of employing you.

Sound Complicated?

The New Entrant Support Team (NEST) are here to help.

There are employers waiting for the right person to apply, right now. Let’s have a chat and get your apprenticeship journey started.

Contact NEST today

What happens when I finish my apprenticeship?

Once you’ve completed your construction apprenticeship, you’ll be awarded an industry-specific qualification.

Your employer may offer you a full-time job (on their wage structure) or you could discuss the possibility of progressing onto a higher level apprenticeship with them. Of course, you may choose to look elsewhere for work and gain experience with another employer.

If the company you completed your first apprenticeship with is unable to provide you with the correct work experience for a higher level qualification, you may need to look elsewhere to continue your training.

What happens when I finish my apprenticeship?
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