Tertiary Education: Your Choices – Part 1 – Apprenticeships


We here at HND Insider believe that one of the best things about education in the UK is the sheer amount of choice students have. If you’re leaving sixth form college this year and you’re still undecided about your future, don’t worry. We’re here to outline some of the tertiary (or postsecondary) education choices open to A-level (equivalent) graduates. Today we’ll be looking at apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships are vocational qualifications that blend on-job training with formal, class-based learning. Apprenticeships used to be available in all manner of subjects, from journalism to plumbing; however, apprenticeships eventually gave way to degrees in certain occupations like journalism with employers favouring the later qualification in some roles.  

Apprenticeships Are Making a Comeback

However, there’s good news for those who are seeking the combination of practical and theoretical learning. The apprenticeship is making something of a comeback thanks to UK government initiatives. You’ll now be able to find a vast variety of apprenticeship programmes covering subjects previously associated with a degree like IT, law, marketing, sales and human resource management to name a few.

Profession-focused Education

As you might have guessed, apprenticeships are often strictly focused on a particular role. If you have a good idea of what long-term career you want, this qualification might be the perfect choice for you. Expect to spend around three or four days a week in your place of work, with one day devoted to studying in a college or university. Depending on the programme you choose, you may begin by shadowing a member of staff, or you might get your hands dirty from day one.

There are various levels of apprenticeship; which level you join will depend on the highest qualification you’ve achieved so far. Those with A-levels or equivalent qualifications can expect to enter a higher apprenticeship (level 4 or 5).

Get Paid to Study

A big bonus for those worried about acquiring sizeable student debts during their tertiary education is that apprenticeships are paid positions. The apprenticeship wage starts at £3.50 an hour, so you’ll likely be on lower than minimum wage; however, you’ll be gaining direct work experience and a formal qualification that will likely result in a sizeable pay bump upon completion. Indeed, a government guide stated: “Apprentices enjoy marked salary increases when they complete their training, and those completing a higher apprenticeship could see increased earnings of an estimated £150,000 over their lifetime.” Another bonus is that most companies hire/train apprentices with a view to offering them a full position upon satisfactory completion of the programme.

How Are Apprenticeships Funded?

The UK government seems keen to bring apprenticeships back into importance; an apprenticeship levy was established in 2016 to help fund such programmes. All businesses with a paybill of over £3 million a year are required to pay into the fund. An account can then be created for the company from which they can withdraw funds for the sole purpose of training apprentices through government-approved programmes. Smaller companies have to pay a share of money towards the training programme with the government covering the rest. To learn more about how apprenticeships are funded go to the government’s apprenticeship funding page.  

Next time on our tertiary education guide, we look at bachelor’s degrees.

Interested in finding an apprenticeship? Check out the government’s Find an Apprenticeship search page, or contact an HND Insider course advisor today for more information.  


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here