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7 Common Apprenticeship Myths Debunked

From hourly rates to qualifications, there are many misconceptions about apprenticeships. We’re here to set the record straight and bust these myths. Read more.

Apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular, with 719,000 people participating in an apprenticeship in England in 2020 alone. Although more people are getting involved in apprenticeships, not everyone is aware of the benefits of apprenticeships and there still seems to be a stigma around this type of work placement and some negative misconceptions floating around. We’ve compiled a list of the top 7 apprenticeship myths and are ready to set the record straight, revealing what’s true and busting what’s not, so you can make the right choice and capitalise on all the opportunities available to you.

We’ll cover the following:

  • Apprenticeship entry requirements
  • Apprenticeship pay
  • Apprenticeship roles
  • An apprentice’s day-to-day tasks
  • Apprenticeship levels and qualifications
  • Post-apprenticeship opportunities

Myth 1: Apprenticeships are for people who do not perform well academically

FALSE

One of the biggest misconceptions around apprenticeships is that they are only suitable for people who do not perform well academically, did not pass their exams or are not ‘cut out’ for university. This could not be more wrong! While apprenticeships offer a more ‘hands-on’ learning experience and practical approach, they are a fantastic opportunity for all kinds of people looking to expand their knowledge and upgrade their skill sets, by getting stuck right into a job.

Modern apprenticeships comprise on-the-job training in the form of a work placement, alongside one day of study per week, which contributes to gaining an industry-recognised qualification. Certain apprenticeship programmes will also have entry requirements, with many typically requiring at least five GCSE passes, including Mathematics and English. So, yes, apprenticeships can offer an alternative to traditional learning styles and career routes, however, it is by no means for those who ‘underperform’ academically.

Myth 2: Apprenticeships are badly paid

FALSE

Apprenticeship pay is often regarded as a taboo subject, but it really doesn’t need to be. The government is open about how much apprentices earn and states that all apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage, as well as time off for studying, holiday pay and other employee benefits. The amount you earn as an apprentice will vary depending on your age and the level of your apprenticeship. We’ve outlined these rates below:

Age and Apprenticeship LevelHourly Rate
Age 16 to 18£4.81
Age 19+ in your first year£4.81
Age 19+ and completed your first yearNational Minimum Wage or National Living Wage rate for your age

Although the hourly apprenticeship rate of pay is slightly lower than the national minimum wage for first-year apprentices under the age of 19, it is important to remember that you are essentially getting paid to learn. You will be gaining invaluable experience, hours of training, job shadowing and industry-recognised qualifications - all while earning a salary. Some businesses also choose to pay above the minimum rates and, unlike graduates, apprentices do not accumulate 3-year’s worth of student loan debts!

Myth 3: Apprenticeships are only for manual or trade jobs

FALSE

This is another apprenticeship myth that is not entirely true, since there are a wide range of apprenticeship programmes available to choose from. Some of the most popular sectors for apprentices include construction, sports, health and social care, IT services and engineering, which are relatively more hands-on roles. However, you can now get an apprenticeship in over 1,500 different job roles in 170 industries, spanning vocational trades in addition to business, fashion, law administration, finance and more.

Myth 4: Apprentices are given all the boring tasks

FALSE

There is a common misconception that apprentices are only allocated the tasks that employees don’t want to do themselves, when, in fact, 74% of employers report that apprentices helped them improve the quality of their product or service. These figures show that apprentices are given the opportunity to work on exciting projects and contribute to real change within an organisation, and provide real value to businesses - not just take out the bins or file paperwork!

Although there may be some less enjoyable responsibilities during your apprenticeship, this is all part of the learning process and has got to be done - just like with any other work placement or full-time job.

Myth 5: Apprenticeships don’t provide you with any useful qualifications for your future career

FALSE

All apprentices will finish their apprenticeship with an industry-recognised qualification that they can carry with them for the rest of their career. These qualifications come in different levels and equate to various traditional qualifications, such as A-Levels and Bachelor’s degrees. This includes:

Apprenticeship LevelQualification Equivalent
Intermediate Apprenticeship (Level 2)GCSE Pass (grade A*-C/4-9)
Advanced Apprenticeship (Level 3)A-Level Pass
Higher Apprenticeship (Levels 4/5)Higher Education Certificate or Foundation Degree
Degree Apprenticeship (Levels 6/7)Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree

That being said, qualifications are not the be-all and end-all when it comes to securing a job, and many employers actually prefer experience over education. As such, apprentices can often have an advantage over other candidates, since they have a few years of on-the-job experience already.

Myth 6: Apprenticeships are only for secondary school leavers

FALSE

Apprenticeships are available for anyone over the age of 16 and approximately half of the apprenticeships are started by people aged 25 and over, according to 2020 government data. However, you can be any age to start an apprenticeship, which makes them suitable for school leavers, graduates, career changers later in life and returners to work.

Myth 7: Apprentices have no scope for progression

FALSE

At the end of an apprenticeship, you will have gained valuable qualifications and work experience, making you a well-rounded and highly-skilled professional, with unlimited opportunities and earning potential available to you.

According to government surveys, approximately 65% of apprentices are hired on a permanent basis by their current employer after their programme has finished, and 85% remain in full-time employment whether that’s at the same company or elsewhere. Better yet, at least one-third of those who remain in the same company will receive a promotion within their first year. So, apprentices have massive scope for progression and will go on to lead successful careers.

If you’re interested in launching your career with a hands-on learning experience and work placements with our esteemed clients, check out the FDM Apprenticeship Programme.


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