According to the Commons Library, apprenticeships are more popular than ever. In 2020, 275,900 candidates applied for apprenticeships. It’s easy to see why: they’re a structured entry point into the workforce. And while coronavirus has impacted the job market, the good news is that employers are still looking for apprentices. Yet applying for an apprenticeship is more competitive than ever.
How can you make your apprenticeship application stand out? We’ve broken down our best tips below.
What is an apprenticeship?
Before applying for an apprenticeship, it’s essential to understand exactly what you’re getting yourself into. According to UCAS, an apprenticeship is essentially like a full-time job. You work in the region of 30 hours per week plus a study day. Further, you’re treated just like any other paid employee. The upside (and the reason they’re especially popular with graduates) is that you’ll emerge from the program with genuine work experience and a new qualification, without additional debt. The downside? They’re very challenging. An apprenticeship brings the challenge of work nearly full time whilst also studying—you’ll need to be organised to balance these responsibilities.
Not all apprenticeships are equal, and different apprenticeships are equivalent to different levels of study, for instance:
- Intermediate apprenticeships (Level 2) are equivalent to GCSEs
- Advanced apprenticeships (Level 3) are equal to three A-levels
- A higher apprenticeship (Levels 4 and 5) is comparable to a foundation degree
- A degree internship (Levels 6 and 7) is the same as a bachelor’s degree
The length and subject matter of your apprenticeship varies. Be sure to check the apprenticeship summary before applying.
Finding an Apprenticeship
Finding the right apprenticeship is your first challenge. Take a look at the websites below to get started.
- UCAS is a fantastic resource, refer to their apprenticeship opportunities and requirements broken down by country
- Get My First Job
- Find Apprenticeships
- Help You Choose
- Office For Students
- City and Guilds
If you don’t see something suitable right away, change up the phrases you search for and be flexible—you may find the perfect job you weren’t expecting.
The Application Process
Applying for an apprenticeship isn’t a coffee break task; you’ll need to devote considerable time and energy to the application process. Employers expect all the information that you’d see on a CV (work experience and descriptions of any work you’ve completed, whether paid or unpaid), as well as a personal statement and written answers to some questions.
If you want to know how to apply for apprenticeship, the experts at the National Apprenticeship Service created a fantastic document to walk you through the process. We’ve condensed their best tips below:
- Practice writing your personal statement: talk about your experience and how the tasks you’ve completed will help you with your apprenticeship.
- Consider your strengths: you’ll be asked about your strengths as part of the application process. Think about the things you’re good at. But, be sure that you have relevant examples to back up those claims. If you’re not sure what your strengths are, ask a professor or a friend.
- Look for buzzwords: scan through the apprenticeship advertisement one last time. Look for buzzwords in the job summary. Then, if you can, incorporate some of that language into your application—it’ll be easier for the employer to read.
- Think about what you’d like to develop: you don’t need to have all the skills required in the job description to apply for the apprenticeship. The application will give you space to talk about the kinds of skills you’d like to improve on and the parts of the position that you’re interested in.
- Be careful with the hobbies and interests you include: the last section of the application is your chance to give your potential future employer a chance to get to know you. Most importantly, don’t lie and say that you’re really interested in Russian literature or golf if you’re not a keen golfer or a Tolstoy fangirl. Chances are, your employer will use this section to break the ice if you’re called to interview. Be honest, but be careful about what you write. This forms a first impression, so ‘pounding pints’ could be a joke that loses you a job.
Apprenticeships in the time of COVID-19
Whilst the pandemic has impacted apprenticeships, the government is committed to investing within this space. In November 2020, chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged to extend the apprenticeship incentive scheme until March 2021.
Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to gain real work experience, which is now more critical than ever. With these tips, applying for an apprenticeship will be a breeze—and you’ll be sure to find the right position for you.