Updated: Apr 7, 2021
Whilst more people are considering doing an apprenticeship as a way of upskilling or starting their careers, the prospect of finding and applying for one can prove to be a stumbling block for some. Although there may not be a ‘one size fits all’ approach to getting an apprenticeship, we hope that the following tips can prove useful in starting that all important first step on your apprenticeship journey.
Do your research
Before applying for an apprenticeship, it’s worth considering a number of factors which could affect which one you apply for. Apprenticeships exist across a wide range of industries, types and qualification levels. Therefore it’s worth clarifying which sectors or occupations appeal to your interests and existing skills, as well as what level it would be best to start at.
We recommend using the Institute for Apprenticeship’s website to research what apprenticeships are available, or to try and speak to a careers adviser who may be able to give specialist advice. Alternatively, it might be worth trying to contact someone who already works in your target industry to establish whether a certain trade or job appeals to you. Being able to clearly define what your career goals are, in addition to researching your target apprenticeship will greatly enhance your job search as well as any applications you send off.
Finding relevant opportunities
Now that you’ve decided what sector and level of apprenticeship you want to pursue, the next step is to actually apply for any opportunities that are available. The first place to look for apprenticeship vacancies is of course online, with a number of useful search resources available. Websites such as GOV.UK have a ‘Find an apprenticeship’ search portal whilst more general job websites such as Indeed.com can also prove useful. Alternatively, another option to look for apprenticeships could be to check if your college or university has an active apprenticeships board, whilst asking your friends or family if they know of any available vacancies can never go amiss.
Apprenticeships are open to anyone who is over the age of 16 and has the legal right to work in the UK. Yet whilst few barriers exist for anyone wishing to start an apprenticeship, there is some eligibility criteria to bear in mind before you send off for any applications. As an example, if you’re a recent school leaver and have just finished your GCSEs, you may find it unlikely to be accepted onto a higher or degree level apprenticeship. Alternatively, if you already possess a higher qualification such as a university degree, this could mean that you wouldn’t be eligible to start an apprenticeship if your degree was in a similar subject. It might therefore be worth discussing any potential eligibility requirements with your training provider or prospective employer before starting an apprenticeship programme.
Sending off applications
Upon finding a few suitable vacancies, the next step is to actually apply for them. As most apprenticeships amount to a full-time job with only some of the time spent in training, it makes sense to treat any application for an apprenticeship vacancy as one for any other job. Drafting a decent cover letter and CV is therefore crucial, with many online resources available to help with their formulation. The importance of researching your chosen industry and apprenticeship should come into play here, as this will be needed to demonstrate how you would be a good fit for the apprenticeship you’re applying for in your application.
If you’ve managed to pass the initial application stage and have been invited to an interview, then congratulations! You’re now just one step away from being accepted onto your chosen apprenticeship. But before you get too carried away with visions of climbing the career ladder and eventually running the company, it might be worth practicing some interview techniques first.
Once you’ve agreed a suitable time and place for your interview with your potential employer, a good idea can be to review the original vacancy advert with a particular focus on the person specification. It might be useful to write down potential questions that the employer might ask you in the interview, and to think of ways those questions can be answered in a way that portrays you in a positive way. Whilst this article is not going to go into too much depth about interview techniques, the important thing to remember is that prior research and preparation is key to succeeding in any interview.
During these unprecedented times of economic uncertainty, the difficulty with which it can be to find the right opportunity can seem like an uphill struggle. Truthfully, it is inevitable that getting an apprenticeship in this economic climate is not likely to be an easy process. That does not change the fact, however, that apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular with employers as a way of taking on new staff. If you follow these steps and are perseverant in your apprenticeship search, the odds are that your efforts will bear fruit eventually.