I received a lot of questions during the Christmas Cash Challenge about my apprenticeship which I’m doing through QA. I’m a thirty something apprentice and proud of it. Gone are the days when apprentices were doing manual labour such as a car mechanic earning a pittance. Since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in 2017, more and more organisations are able to offer apprenticeships alongside a proper salary. The levy has meant that there is lots more money available for employees to access training and development opportunities. Whilst I was employed as an apprentice, there are a lot of things the levy pot can be used for and a lot of employees where I work are upskilling themselves using this pot – in fact, out of the three people on the programme I am doing at my place of employment, I am the only one who was employed as an apprentice. The other two were already in post and therefore have not had to take a drop in salary. Through the Apprenticehip Levy programme, you can access a wide range of qualifications at different levels, across lots of different subjects. My apprenticeship is a level 4 qualification which is equivalent to a diploma or HNC. Some apprenticeship programmes are able to offer degree apprenticeships so a wide range of subjects and levels are available.
It’s important to note however that my new lower salary is in proportion to the drop in salary I was expecting as part of my relocation, so I really haven’t lost out. I’m at the bottom of the salary banding for my role – so there is scope for that to go up and my new skills and knowledge, as well as qualifications that I will be gaining will only increase my earning potential in the future, so yes, I think apprenticeships are a great financial option!
My apprenticeship journey
I had a rocky start with my apprenticeship, and it took a while to get the learning part lined up (I was the first Data Analyst Apprentice where I work) but I was already on the job and learning loads from my colleagues straight away. As an apprentice you are doing the job, but yet receive 20% of your time out of the workplace receiving training and development. This includes things like training and lectures. Some providers like to do it one day a week, and some prefer to do block release. Your employer will probably have a preference or be able to agree this with the provider as part of the delivery contract.
I’m doing a role which is totally new to me. I love computers and I love a good spreadsheet but already just a few months in I have learnt so much on the job.
I have a week long block release every 4-6 weeks for face to face training. This is to ensure that all areas of the programme are covered in order to meet the learning objectives of the course. We also have study to do between the blocks and this time helps to make up the 20% off the job training required as part of the apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships are work based and you will have a tutor or assessor visit you and you may be taught my them or you may attend training elsewhere. As part of passing the standards and qualification your employer would be contacted to write about your performance in the role. I won’t go too much into the detail of the assessment process as each subject and level is different, but for my programme, I have to do a portfolio (so keeping evidence throughout the time I’m on the programme), I will have to pass an exam and I need to do a project and have an interview. Throughout the time on the programme, your assessor would help you work towards completing all your goals and targets so you don’t need to worry about any of them.
If you’d like to know more about apprenticeships, or becoming an apprentice, check out the gov.uk’s Apprenticeship Guide, or get in touch and I can tell you more about my experience.