What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a real job with real job prospects. It is an excellent opportunity for you to gain a recognised qualification as well as valuable industry experience to enhance your CV and long term career prospects. Apprenticeships can often lead to higher qualifications and will demonstrate to employers how committed and professional you are. You will have a salary, contract of employment and will work between 30-40 hours a week. To start an apprenticeship you will need to be employed in a job role which has the range of work relevant to the apprenticeship qualification you wish to undertake. You can find apprenticeship opportunities on the National Apprenticeship Service website or on the Bedford College apprenticeship vacancy page. 

What types of apprenticeships are there?

Bedford College offers a wide range of apprenticeships. However nationally there are over 250 different types of apprenticeships available.

What are the levels of apprenticeships?

  • There are no Level 1 apprenticeships. 
  • Intermediate – Level 2. Most (but not all) apprenticeships start at Level 2 which is equivalent to GCSE grade A - C. 
  • Advanced – Level 3 is equivalent to A-Level and usually a progression route from the Level 2, although electrical apprenticeships start at Level 3 but include Level 2 qualifications at the start of the programme.
  • Higher – Level 4 is equivalent to a Foundation Degree. At Bedford College we are currently extending our offer of higher apprenticeships

Find out more about the types and levels of apprenticeships at Bedford College.

How long will the apprenticeship programme take to complete?

Apprenticeships take between 12 – 42 months to complete depending on the type and level of apprenticeship undertaken. 

When will I need to attend College?

Your employer will release you from work to attend college as set out by the College Training Co-ordinator. For some apprentices this will mean one day a week at college known as “day release” and for others it may mean “block release” i.e. a week or fortnight in college each half term. Some engineering apprentices are required to attend college full time for the first year and will only be in work during non-term time that year. When you apply for your apprenticeship the appropriate college attendance for you will be explained so that you and your employer can plan your time in college ahead.

Who can apply?

To apply for an apprenticeship you must be 16 or over and have an employer who has offered to employ you as an apprentice. Your job role and duties with the employer must relate to the type of apprenticeship you would like to undertake. Most apprenticeships are either fully or partly funded by the Government therefore applicants must meet finding eligibility criteria.

How do I find an apprenticeship?

Some apprentices find an employer by contacting local companies to let them know they are seeking an Apprenticeship. It may also be helpful to speak to friends, family and other contacts about your intention to become an apprentice and ask them if they know of any employers in your chosen vocation who may be interested in taking you on.

We recommend that you also register for an apprenticeship on the National Apprenticeship Service website which gives details of all Apprenticeships available and how to apply. In addition we post details of apprenticeship vacancies with employers working with Bedford College on this website where you can also view details and apply online.

Once you have secured employment you will need to let us know your employer’s contact details so that we can arrange to carry out a visit to the company to check that proper arrangements have been put in place to support your apprenticeship and that you have access to the required range of work.

What are the entry requirements for apprenticeship programmes?

The entry requirements vary depending on the type and level of apprenticeship applied for. Find out about the entry requirements for apprenticeship programme offered at Bedford College.

What qualifications will I get?

Most apprenticeships have five key elements which must be achieved before your full apprenticeship certificate will be awarded. These are:

  • Competency – developing your skill on the job and working to industry standards. This is mostly covered at work and known as the work based element.
  • Knowledge – underpinning knowledge explaining how things should be done. Usually covered in college on day or block release. This may involve taught sessions to cover theory and/or tests and assignments. There will often be practical sessions to enable you to put into practice what you have learnt.
  • Functional Skills – English, maths and ICT. These will need to be passed in order to achieve your Apprenticeship qualification at the level specified on the course information sheet. If however you have already passed these before enrolling as an apprentice or have achieved GCSE Grade C or above in the functional skill subjects, you will not have to take the functional skills again (but you must provide us with the certificates).
  • Personal learning and thinking skills – creative thinking, team working, independent enquiry; reflective learning, self management, effective participation.
  • Employment Rights and Responsibilities – focusing on your employer’s role and your role as an employee.

What happens when I apply to the college for an apprenticeship?

Once you have applied for one of our Bedford College apprenticeship vacancies your application will be reviewed, if you meet the entry criteria you will be invited in to meet with  a member of our Apprenticeship Recruitment Team. This meeting will include; an overview of apprenticeships and a discussion about the job you have applied for and others you may be interested in, a brief question and answer session to help you prepare for interviews and referral to our Careers Team if you would like additional support. Once you have been offered an apprenticeship you will come in to complete you maths and English tests and enrolment paperwork.

What are the progression opportunities once I have completed my apprenticeship?

Progression opportunities vary depending on the Apprenticeship type and level undertaken and the individual circumstances of the apprentice and employer. Many apprentices who start a Level 2 intermediate Apprenticeship on leaving school progress to the advanced apprenticeship at level 3, but this is subject to continued support from the employer and performance on programme and at initial assessment. For further information regarding progression, please contact Bedford College Apprenticeship team on 01234 291747.

What is the cost of an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships for those who are 16 to 18 years old are fully funded by the Government. There is partial funding for those who are aged 19 to 23 at the start of their programme which is supplemented by an employer contribution.

There may be bursaries or funding schemes associated with some apprenticeships. For further information please see the Bursaries section on the Bedford College website.

What should I do if I am interested in becoming an apprentice?
  • Check the Bedford College website regularly for details of our apprenticeship vacancies
  • Register for apprenticeship vacancies on the National Apprenticeship Service website
  • Contact potential employers and ask about apprenticeship opportunities within  their organisations
  • Attend an Open day at Bedford College and visit our Apprenticeship Zone where our team can answers questions and provide information about apprenticeships we offer
  • Contact the Bedford College Apprenticeship Recruitment Team for further advice on 01234 291090