A parent/carer’s guide to apprenticeships


As a parent or carer, you’re probably treading a very fine line. On the one hand you want to do everything you can to help someone do what’s right for them, but on the other, you don’t want to be overbearing or do everything for them.

You want your child to get the best possible start in their career and it’s inevitable that you’ll want to help them on this journey. It’s quite easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the careers options available and this could be a stumbling block when it comes to the advice you can offer your child. It’s therefore really important that you familiarise yourself with all of the available routes, including apprenticeships. This way you can give your child all the advice you can!

The National Apprenticeship Service found that whilst 87% of parents give their child careers advice, up to 90% of those don’t feel well-informed enough to offer it in the first place.

In this blog, we’ll be letting you know what apprenticeships are and also give you some advice around speaking to your child about their options. From our experience, it’s likely that you’ll be on very thin ice, as you’ll want to do your best to help your child while not doing everything for them. So, we’ll give you some top tips to help make the journey as smooth as possible.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a real job, where someone gets paid to do their work as well as complete additional training or a qualification. As an apprentice, your child will be entitled to a salary, annual leave and the same benefits as other employees at their organisation. It an ideal way to start a career if you don’t have very much experience, but still want to gain more qualifications – without having to study full-time at college, sixth form or university.

How do apprenticeships work?

As an apprentice, your child will spend 80% of their time in a ‘proper’ job. This could be in anything from hairdressing or construction to accounting or marketing. They will spend the remainder of their week studying in college, university or with a training provider towards a qualification in their chosen industry. These qualifications include:

  • Functional skills: GCSE level qualifications in English, Mathematics and ICT
  • National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs): from level 2 (equal to five GCSEs) up to level 7 (postgraduate degree level)
  • Technical certificates: BTECs, City and Guild Progression Awards etc.
  • Academic qualifications: Higher National Certificate (HNC), Higher National Diploma (HND) foundation degree (FdA, FdEng or FdSc) or a bachelor’s degree (BA(Hons), BA or BSc)
  • Apprenticeships can last anywhere from one to six years depending on the level the apprentice is studying at. There are four levels to suit different abilities; intermediate, advanced, higher and degree. The level of apprenticeship suitable for an individual depends on what qualifications and experience they already have. You can see a breakdown of the different apprenticeship levels here.

    Who are apprenticeships for?

    Apprenticeships really are for everyone, as long as your child is aged 16 or over, they will be able to find something for them. There are a range of levels available so you will be able to find an apprenticeship suitable for your child considering their professional experience and current qualifications.

    Although apprenticeships were once considered only suitable for people who weren’t very academic and aspiring for more hands-on jobs, it is completely different now! While you can still get an apprenticeship in industries such as construction, engineering or hairdressing, you can now also train for white collar opportunities such as marketing, accounting or management. There are even solicitors’ apprenticeships which allow someone to qualify more quickly than if they were to go to University to qualify! Discover what apprenticeships are available in different industries.

    Are apprentices paid and do they have to pay for their qualification?

    The apprenticeship minimum wage is £4.15 per hour (as of April 2020), but many employers pay much more than this depending on the industry they work in, region and apprenticeship level. We’ve seen lots of apprenticeships pay over £18,000 per annum, which is an amazing salary for someone’s first job! It’s also important to know that apprentices are paid both for their time in the workplace and their time spent training.

    Apprentices also don’t have to pay for their qualification fees, this is covered by a tax that businesses all have to pay called the apprenticeship levy. This means that your child could get a degree without having the hefty student debt attached to it!

    Apprentices are also entitled to employee perks such as paid holidays (a minimum of 20 days), sick pay and enrolment on a pension scheme. They can also apply for a NUS Apprentice extra card or TOTUM card and get exclusive discounts on restaurants, gym memberships and transport!

    How do you apply for an apprenticeship?

    At any time, there are at least 12,000 opportunities that you and your child can browse through online.

  • You can use GetMyFirstJob’s search facility to find thousands of current opportunities
  • You can apply directly through employer’s website, particularly for larger brands.
  • You can find apprenticeships on the official government website by visiting GOV.UK/apply-apprenticeship.
  • We know that many parents sign up to GetMyFirstJob on their child’s behalf to start applying for apprenticeships for them. While this is a great way to start some applications, we would advise that you make sure that your child is aware that you’re applying for opportunities on their behalf. If you do choose to register, it is also worth putting their contact number in. It can be a little awkward if a training provider or employer tries to speak to a candidate but ends up speaking to their Mum or Dad!

    Is there a deadline to apply?

    Unlike UCAS which is the application portal for universities, there isn’t a deadline for apprenticeships. Rather, apprentices are recruited throughout the year when a company chooses to take one on and expand their team. Like a normal job you’d apply for, each vacancy will have closing dates however there are always new ones being added to our website.

    This being said, some larger organisations will have yearly deadlines to get applications in due to the large volumes of applications they can expect to receive for each cohort. You can check these deadlines on employer websites and on the right-hand side of most vacancies on the GetMyFirstJob website.

    What can I do to help?

    As we’ve mentioned, as a parent or carer it is going to be an interesting journey as your child figures out their next steps. It is likely that you’ll have to tread carefully with your suggestions and offer a helping hand without telling your child what to do – as tempting as it can be! Here are some of our top tips to parents and carers helping their child find their apprenticeship.

  • Offer to read through their CV. It’s always useful to get someone to proofread a CV, however bear in mind some people don’t like sharing the CVs with people they are close to
  • Offer interview advice and interview practice. If you’ve had an interview, you’ll be able to offer advice
  • Find opportunities and then send them to your child for them to apply for, so they still feel in control
  • If the phone rings asking for your child, try to also be professional. We’ve had some parents and carers be very nosy – you want your child to come across as independent and ready to start work!
  • Regularly check for new opportunities, you don’t want your child to miss out on the dream opportunity because neither of you saw it!
  • Apprenticeships Advice for Parents