An apprenticeship offers you the opportunity to gain real world experience and develop your expertise in your chosen field. We’ll cover everything you need to know about apprenticeships, including what exactly an apprenticeship is, what you can expect working as an apprentice, some of the key benefits of apprenticeships, featuring comments from FDM Apprentices, Sehrish Mustafa and Dylan Bruton. Let’s find out more…
What is an apprenticeship and how do apprenticeships work?
An Apprenticeship is a type of work placement that combines practical training alongside ongoing role-related studies. Typically, an apprentice will split their time 80/20 between work and study. Unlike work experience, an apprenticeship is a legitimate job that requires a legal contract of employment, salaries and annual leave.
What are the requirements for becoming an apprentice?
To become an apprentice in the UK, there are certain requirements you must meet. You must:
- Live in the UK
- Be over the age of 16
What can you expect working as an apprentice?
When starting out as an apprentice, it is important to understand how things are going to work and what to expect. Firstly, prior to your start date, you will need to confirm all the logistics with your employer; they will usually contact you regarding this beforehand. This should include your working hours, job description, dress code or uniform, whether you require your own laptop, your travel options and who you will be working with directly.
Once you have started your placement, you should expect to be carrying out hands-on work for around 80% of your hours, and spend the remainder of your time studying for your apprenticeship. This could take place at university, college or online.
At FDM, we also provide each apprentice with a personal mentor to support them through their journey and aid with their professional development.
Benefits of Apprenticeships
From gaining invaluable new skills to earning your first salary, there are countless benefits to taking part in an apprenticeship. Let’s take a look at the benefits of apprenticeships for employees in more detail:
1. Gain hands-on experience
Since you will be working as part of a team of experienced professionals for the majority of your apprenticeship, you will have the opportunity to expand your skillset and benefit from hands-on experience. Best of all, you will be able to learn from your colleagues on a daily basis and support your professional development.
“I believe that doing this apprenticeship has helped me in ways that a standard degree wouldn’t. I have been able to understand the implementation of topics we do in the classroom, instead of only being told that things are done a certain way by a lecturer, I am able to see in the workplace why it is done this way.
I think being able to learn and work at the same time gives you a deeper understanding of what you are taught. Having a practical aspect is an advantage over pure theory.” - Dylan
2. Benefit from support systems and learning aids
Apprenticeships offer a much higher level of support than regular jobs, and your employers will be there to help guide you through your career journey. They will give you the support you need to progress, whether that’s answering role-related questions or providing access to useful resources to aid your studies.
3. Get paid to learn
Apprenticeships offer you the opportunity to get paid to learn. That’s right. You will earn a basic salary while you gain invaluable experience and expert knowledge that will set you up for future career success. So, unlike university, you will not be left with a large student loan to pay off over time but, instead, a strong professional skill set and knowledge-base, as well as more money in your pocket.
So, what is an apprenticeship wage? The national minimum apprenticeship rate in the UK is £4.30 per hour but is set to rise. Moreover, if you have caring duties, there is also a government bursary available to support your first year as an apprentice.
Not to mention, you will be entitled to 20 days paid annual leave, plus bank holidays, helping you maintain a positive work-life balance.
4. Gain industry-recognised qualifications
During your apprenticeship, you will gain industry-recognised qualifications, which can help validate your skills and knowledge, and help you demonstrate your value to future employers. You can carry these qualifications with you throughout your career, which will improve your future job prospects.
5. Get a feel for the work environment
An apprenticeship is a great way to bridge the gap between finishing education and kickstarting your career. For example, an apprenticeship will help you get a feel for a professional work environment and gives you the opportunity to brush up on your transferable skills along the way, such as communication, time management and problem-solving.
6. Improve your employability
In today’s professional world, many employers require a minimum level of experience when hiring new talent, and having experience as an apprentice can help you tick that box. An apprenticeship will help you demonstrate your expertise to employers and improve your employability.
Dylan says “I would undoubtedly recommend this apprenticeship, there are so many graduates from university in the present day that it is hard to make yourself stand out when finding work.
Completing an apprenticeship like this can allow you to finish your degree and walk right into work the next day at a company you have three years of experience with. Everyone should take a look into degree apprenticeships and see if it is for them.”
7. Enjoy student discounts
One of the perks of enrolling on an apprenticeship is that you will be entitled to an NUS student discount card, which offers deals across restaurants, shops and gyms, both in-store and online.
8. Choose from plenty of programmes
There are so many different types of apprenticeships out there to choose from, be it sports, business, tech or construction. This means you can find a programme that suits your interests and your chosen career path.
Dylan says “While I was looking for apprenticeships, I managed to make contact with a recruiter at Sheffield Hallam University. I asked them about any available placements for a degree based apprenticeship in IT - they told me about the Digital Solutions Professional degree and sent over details about FDM Group. After researching both I was hooked. I was going to learn about the practical uses of IT within a business as well as experience first-hand how it was implemented for a successful global company.”
The FDM Apprenticeship Programme
At FDM, we offer an Apprenticeship Programme that combines practical training alongside your university degree. It is a three-year apprenticeship that will give you the opportunity to work with our industry-leading clients four times a week, gaining valuable insight into your chosen industry and transferable skills to carry with you throughout your professional career. We also offer the option to join the FDM team or enrol onto our Graduate Programme once your apprenticeship is complete.
We also offer support and development initiatives to support you throughout your journey with us, which includes:
- A wellbeing programme and Wellbeing Ambassadors
- A mentoring programme
- A mentoring programme;
- Online learning resources;
Support groups for discussion around shared characteristics.
“It's a great way to learn about the industry, get new skills, and gain work experience that may be applied to other roles. There will be no tuition debt if you work and earn at the same time.
As a young mother FDM allows flexible working, which has helped me a lot in managing my time and getting all my work completed.” - Sehrish
If you’re interested in starting an apprenticeship, check out the FDM Apprenticeship Programme for more information.