Apprenticeships are undeniably popular. In the past 12 months, there were a record 1.4 million applications for placements, up 32 per cent on last year – and the Government has promised to double the number of apprenticeships to 400,000 in England by 2020.
While the future looks bright, pay rates can be disappointingly low, especially in industries like hairdressing. If you’re wondering which training schemes offer the best salary, we reveal five of the highest-paid apprenticeships and the kind of opportunities available in each…
National minimum wages
Apprenticeships are governed by the national minimum wage (NMW). For apprentices in their first year (and those aged 16-18) the NMW is £2.68 per hour. Once the first year is completed, those aged 19 and over are entitled to the minimum wage appropriate for their age. For 18-20 year olds this is £5.03. For those aged 21 and over it’s £6.31.
However, these are minimum rates. As skills develop, many employers will increase pay. Research suggests the average apprentice earns £170 (net) per week.
Apprentices working in Team Leadership and Management enjoy the highest rates of pay, earning £9.11 per hour on average. Aimed at those working as team leaders, floor managers or trainee supervisors, these apprenticeships can be applied across a wide range of sectors and job roles, offering highly transferable skills.
At an intermediate level, trainees develop skills in allocating and monitoring the work of a team, managing conflict, project management and agreeing budgets. At an advanced level, apprentices inform strategic decision making, manage budgets, and actively lead teams.
2. Engineering – £7.03
Engineering apprentices may learn a broad range of skills and techniques or work in a highly specialised field depending on the employer. Trainees may spend their day spray painting a new sports car or decommissioning a nuclear reactor – very different jobs, but both requiring good manual and technical skills.
Many engineering training schemes can be found within the motor industry. Rolls Royce, who opened a new state-of-the-art Apprenticeship Academy in Derby in 2012, recruited nearly 300 people to its five apprenticeship programmes in the UK last year.
3. Customer Service – £6.92
Customer service apprentices work on the front-line of a company’s business, providing assistance to customers and ensuring that their queries and complaints are handled in a constructive and positive way.
Most apprenticeships within the sector are within retail, financial services, call centres, hospitality, or sport and recreation. Duties vary between industries, but all candidates will need to have good people skills and be able to communicate with people from all walks of life.
4. Electrotechnical – £6.88
Electrotechnical apprenticeships are involved in the installation, maintenance and repair of electrical equipment – from installing electrical systems inside a shopping centre or installing CCTV systems to designing, installing and setting up electrical systems on highways.
Whether apprentices work for an electrical contractor or company providing electrical services, they will be expected to have strong practical skills and be able to follow technical drawings and understand health and safety regulations.
5. Health and social care – £6.77
Apprenticeships in the health and social care sector provide a foundation for careers in health – for example, working in hospitals, the community, hospices or private clinics as a healthcare support worker or a healthcare assistant. They also work in social care, helping people, such as the disabled, the elderly or people with learning disabilities in their home or the community.
Those who complete the Advanced Apprenticeship are in a good position to progress onto Higher Education in subjects like nursing or midwifery.
Anyone aged over 16 and not in full-time education can apply. Depending on the provider, apprenticeships can take place entirely in the workplace or involve classroom-based study.
There are three levels of apprenticeship in England: Intermediate, for which you may need two or more GCSEs; Advanced, which may requires five GCSEs at grade C or above; and Higher Apprenticeship, for which you generally require a minimum of two A-levels.
Training schemes generally take between one and four years to complete and provide a formal qualification at the end. For more information visit: apprenticeships.org.uk.