Apprenticeships – Options for Adults

Despite being touted by some people as a route intended only for 16-18 year old school-leavers, the fact remains that apprenticeships can be a good option for mature adults who want to improve their existing skills or change careers. Apprenticeships in the UK have no upper age limit, which means that in theory any adult can start an apprenticeship regardless of their age. Nonetheless, any adult wishing to become an apprentice does need to consider several factors beforehand, as well as the potential challenges involved in finding the right opportunity.


Apprenticeships are increasingly being used by employers to train their existing employees for the purpose of either moving them to a different role or to ensure the skills they have in their current role remain updated. Deciding on which type and level of apprenticeship is worth considering here, as you and your employer will need to both agree on what level of apprenticeship would be best suited to your career goals and existing skills level. To learn more about the different apprenticeship types and levels involved, please refer to our earlier article which examines this area in greater detail.


On the other hand, you might be looking for a new apprenticeship opportunity that is not being provided by an existing employer. Whilst it is possible for an adult of any age to start an apprenticeship, some mature adults can find the process of finding a suitable vacancy far from easy.


One obstacle that used to be a problem for mature adults in finding an apprenticeship is the cost involved to employers, as typically it can cost an employer more to hire an adult over the age of 25 who has completed their apprenticeship than a younger apprentice who would only need to be paid less than the National Minimum Wage. However, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic more financial incentives are being given to employers to take on adult apprentices, whilst the demand for apprenticeships amongst adults is steadily increasing. Nonetheless, funding rules for apprenticeships are always liable to change and it may be the case for some time that younger apprentices may find it slightly easier to be accepted onto an apprentice than a mature adult.


If you’re an adult who has a reasonable prospect of gaining an apprenticeship, one last factor to consider is whether or not your existing qualifications may affect your eligibility to start one. It is possible to do an apprenticeship that is at a level equivalent to or below any existing qualifications you have. For example, if you already have an undergraduate degree in business that shouldn’t prevent you from being eligible to start a Level 3 apprenticeship in digital marketing. A potential problem might emerge if you wanted to start an apprenticeship that was at the same or a lower level to an existing qualification that was too deemed to be in a subject area that was too similar. It might therefore be advisable to check whether or not any existing qualifications you hold may affect your eligibility to start an apprenticeship with your training provider before starting one.


Apprenticeships can therefore be a good option for adults as well as school-leavers. Whatever their age more people than ever before are looking to apprenticeships as way of progressing in their chosen field as well as gaining invaluable skills in a particular occupation or sector. To discover more about ORCA and our apprenticeship end-point assessment services, be sure to like and follow across LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram

© 2021 ORCA EPA LTD.

Company No. E&W 12238518.

All Rights Reserved.

+44 (0) 20 3289 6206

71-75 Shelton Street, Covent Garden

LONDON, WC2H 9JQ