What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a full-time job with a blend of ‘on’ and ‘off the job’ training that provides you with the skills you need for your chosen career, whilst also earning a wage. Apprenticeships are available across a very wide range of industry sectors and are an excellent way of gaining nationally recognised apprenticeship skills, knowledge and behaviours, whilst working and gaining real workplace experience.

apprentice at work

What is the difference between a college course and an apprenticeship?

A college course will require you to attend college most days and study your chosen subject in a classroom with a group of young people learning alongside you. You will achieve a qualification such as A-level, T-level or a vocational qualification.

An apprenticeship requires you to attend a place of work for 80% of the time, learning from your colleagues and employer. You might also attend college (in-person or on-line) to do technical qualifications and/or fill the gaps in your knowledge. If you don’t already have GCSE English and maths, you may also be required to complete these at college. You will achieve a qualification such as an NVQ and/or any professional or technical qualifications you may study such as AAT. You can also progress to degree apprenticeships or switch from an advanced apprenticeship to a degree at university.

What apprenticeships can I do?

Apprenticeships are available across a wide range of industry sectors and are an excellent way of gaining nationally recognised skills, knowledge and behaviours, whilst working, earning money and gaining real workplace experience. At Cirencester College we offer a growing range of apprenticeship standards in the following sectors:

Digital and IT

Business Administration


Media Broadcast and Production

Sales and Marketing

Creative and Digital Services

Financial Services


What levels of apprenticeship can I do?

Apprenticeships start at Level 2 and work up to Degree apprenticeships. At Cirencester College we offer:

Intermediate Apprenticeship

Level 2 - Likely to be a process driven role, typically without responsibility for staff, projects or wider decision making. The role may develop into these areas as the apprentice progresses. This apprenticeship normally takes a year and the apprentice maybe able to progress on to an advanced apprenticeship in their second year.

Advanced Apprenticeship

Level 3 - A role of some responsibility with greater levels of complexity and autonomy. You could expect an apprentice to use their own initiative and be able to make appropriate decisions. They may already have achieved an intermediate apprenticeship and this role is allowing them to develop and progress, the course takes 12-18 months.

Higher Apprenticeship

Level 4 - These apprenticeships will include strategic and management responsibilities or will be a role requiring a high level of technical expertise and responsibility. A degree apprenticeship will include gaining a degree as part of the apprenticeship training and so will be a minimum of three years’ duration.

What is an apprenticeship standard?

Apprenticeship Standards have been written by employers and industry experts and consist of approved industry based skills, knowledge and behaviours.  Apprentices have a period of learning and development, followed by a series of end point assessment activities which are conducted by registered end point assessment organisations.

For some Standards, there is the opportunity to gain nationally recognised qualifications, which can lead to industry body membership.

How are apprenticeships assessed?

All apprenticeships are now ‘Apprenticeship Standards’ and they have an ‘End Point Assessment (EPA)’ to confirm achievement of the apprenticeship. This assessment can take a variety of forms such as a knowledge test, portfolio of evidence, an interview, project presentation, observation or professional discussion.

What is ‘off-the-job’ training?

Every apprentice will complete 20% relevant off-the-job training activities, to support the achievement of their apprenticeship.  This is time for you to learn things related to your apprenticeship and support the achievement of your qualification. This can include practical training, job shadowing, mentoring, coaching, industry visits, theory training, online learning, manufacturer training or can be used to spend time writing assignments/assessment or attending College for theory lessons, workshops or masterclasses.

Who is eligible for an apprenticeship?

Anyone living in England, over the age of 16 (who has completed Year 11 at secondary school), and wants to work in a job full-time whilst gaining qualifications, can apply for an apprenticeship as long as they are not already enrolled on a funded learning or training programme such as a college course or another apprenticeship. There is no upper age limit to starting an apprenticeship.

You can do an apprenticeship after GCSEs, after A-levels or even after doing a degree, however in order to access any Government funding, your apprenticeship must be different to your degree or provide you with significant new learning opportunities.

How do I find an apprenticeship?

The majority of apprenticeships are registered on the Government’s National Apprenticeship Service website here Find an apprenticeship – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). If you know which company you wish to work for, check out their website; most employers promote their vacancies on their websites. The vacancies being offered through Cirencester College can be found here

How do I apply for an apprenticeship?

First you need to find a vacancy (see above). If you have found a job you like, follow the instructions on the vacacny page.  If the vacancy is being promoted by Cirencester College, you can call 01285 626259 or email apprenticeships@cirencester.ac.uk and we will be happy to help you to apply.

Can I employ an apprentice?

Any business can employ an apprentice, as long as the apprentice is employed for not less than 30 hours per week.

In addition to recruiting apprentices to your business, an apprenticeship programme can be used as part of a comprehensive CPD programme for employees that have recently changed roles or been promoted.

How do I recruit an apprentice?

If you are looking to recruit an apprentice to your business, we would love to help you. The team at Cirencester College will:

  • arrange to meet with you and explain exactly how apprenticeships work and how they might work for your business.
  • once you have decided to recruit an apprentice, we ask you to complete a job description form and then we will advertise the vacancy for you.
  • we will advertise your vacancy on the National Apprenticeship Website, our own website, our internal student Job Shop and through various other forms of social media.
  • help you every step of the way through the recruitment process and beyond.
  • once your new apprentice has started in the workplace, we will arrange to meet with you and your apprentice to go through all of the enrolment for the appropriate apprenticeship programme.
  • after the apprentice is on programme we will continue to meet with you and them throughout the programme to review progress, support both you as an employer and our apprentice, and answer any questions or queries.

Is there funding available to employ an apprentice?

There is funding available to employ an apprentice depending upon the size of your company and whether or not you pay the apprenticeship levy. There are also incentive payments to take on apprentices which differ depending upon the age of the apprentice, the level of qualification and the size of the employer. The funding changes frequently; to ensure you have the latest details please check the Government website here Apprenticeship funding – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). However, we are very happy to help you with any questions you have.

Hear from an employer we work with

At Cotswold Archaeology we currently employ 3 Level 3 Archaeological Technician apprentices in conjunction with their studies at Cirencester College. This apprenticeship scheme has created new opportunities to encourage new early-careers archaeologists into the profession a route and vocation which otherwise would have been unavailable. With Cotswold Archaeology, the apprentices receive hands-on fieldwork experience working alongside experienced archaeologists to gain the practical skills needed in the field. At Cirencester College, they put their fieldwork findings into context, by expanding their cultural and historical knowledge in the classroom.

Cirencester College has been supportive and informative in the apprenticeship enrolment and ongoing scheme, and having the hands-on input of the Apprenticeship Tutor has been beneficial throughout. We are pleased to be able to work with Cirencester College to offer this apprenticeship at Cotswold Archaeology, which has opened up new learning and employment possibilities.

Hear from our Apprentices

Sam Apprenticeship

“I chose to apply for an Apprenticeship because you can learn whilst working and it’s also a great qualification to have. Another reason is that it was something that I had not done before so I thought that it would be good to try something new.”

SamApprentice Engineer Procurri
Linus Apprenticeship

“I enjoy working with a group of professionals and contributing to a project I really believe in and can leave a fantastic legacy once my apprenticeship is completed. I get to see how projects are developed and the many considerations that go into heritage work.”

LinusArchaeological Technician Apprentice Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Louisa Pritchard

“Through my apprenticeship I get to experience working fulltime with the knowledge that once I have completed my apprenticeship, I will have succeeded in setting myself up for a future career. It’s a very unique and hands on experience. I am setting my sights high after getting my qualification, I would like to go into some sort of film and media marketing.”

LouisaDigital Marketing Apprentice Fish Brothers

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