Seven apprenticeship myths busted

Wondering what's fact and what's fiction when it comes to apprenticeships? You're not alone. 

There's plenty of confusion around apprenticeships, particularly on who they are for, what qualifications they give you and what careers an apprenticeship can lead to.

To help clear things up, The Student Room has tackled the misconceptions that can put young people off from considering an apprenticeship scheme as a learning and career option.

1. They are only for trades such as building and plumbing

Yep, you'll find apprenticeships in those industries, but there are plenty of other options besides, particularly with the introduction of the Higher Level apprenticeship. Nowadays, you can even get an apprenticeship at Facebook! 

Apprenticeship employer Atkins told us that 'apprenticeships are for people who want to get stuck into a career- you will find them across an array of roles.'

2. I need experience to get an apprenticeship

This isn't true, an apprenticeship is about developing skills, not hiring them. As a would-be apprentice, what you need to offer is enthusiasm for your role. Here are some things worth considering before you apply:

  • Will this apprenticeship challenge me?
  • Are you willing and eager to learn?
  • Are you willing to listen and take instruction?
  • Do you like what’s on offer enough to make sure you complete it?

Apprenticeship employers are looking for commitment over experience so think about where you would like to be in 5 years time and if the apprenticeship will help you get there, go for it!

3. Apprenticeships aren't for academic students

This is an outdated idea that now holds no weight. Far from being true, Atkins have said that 'many apprentice roles still require at least 5 GCSE results A-C grade and sometimes higher depending on the role. 

Rather than relating to your academic achievements, apprenticeships are there for those who have an idea of the career path they are interested in and can offer a step-in-the-door that will put them ahead of graduates with limited work experience. If on-the-job experience appeals, then an apprenticeship might fit the bill.

Remember that an apprenticeship combines a full-time job with learning and training, so by the end of it you’ll have a new qualification.

4. I’m 19, I’m too old to start an apprenticeship

Nope, as long as you’re not in full-time education you can start an apprenticeship. You can contact the National Apprenticeship Service for advice on 19+ opportunities. Some students have even dropped out of uni and taken up apprenticeships, read their story here: 


5. If I do an apprenticeship, I can’t go to uni

Apprenticeships come at different levels; each level has an equivalent in terms of education. So once you have successfully completed your apprenticeship you will have a fresh set of qualifications. What this means is that you can complete an apprenticeship and use this as a pathway to uni if you want to, giving you the best of both worlds!

6. It’s impossible to live off an apprenticeship wage

The Apprenticeship Minimum Wage saw a huge increase in October 2015 rising to £3.30 an hour (*this rate is for apprentices aged 16 to 18 and those aged 19 or over who are in their first year. All other apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage for their age), but loads employers pay their apprentices much more. On this subject, BPP apprenticeships said 'the majority of our apprentices get paid significantly more than the national minimum, and it increases in line with experiences and qualifications gained.'

Apprenticeships might not pay megabucks from the outset, but the experience and training could set you up for higher-paying roles in the near future.

7. I need a degree to be successful

There are lots of routes to success, we might not all become multi-millionaries like Alan Sugar but he sure didn't let his lack of a degree stop him. Other names you will probably know who have undertaken apprenticeships include Jamie Oliver, David Beckham and John Frieda.

Neither an apprenticeship nor a university education will guarantee success. It’s hard work, commitment and creating your own luck which will make you successful.

More on TSR: 
Tips on how to ace an apprenticeship interview 
Check out National Apprenticeship Week on TSR 

Are you considering an apprenticeship? Let us know in the comments below