Why choose an apprenticeship?
Taking a vocational route i.e. an apprenticeship, suits those who do not wish to pursue an academic career pathway and are more hands-on, you can work while you learn, and earn while you learn! You can opt to obtain advanced-level qualifications, with many trainees going on to doing degrees as they progress through their career. What’s more, apprentices often have their tuition fees paid for by their employer, and with the costs of university study ever increasing, apprenticeships look like an even more appealing option, if you don’t want the student loan debt.
Taking a vocational route to gaining qualifications can hold exciting prospects, apprentices with ambition to enter senior roles within the firm usually find their are few barriers if they have the right skills. In fact many company directors started life on the shop floor.
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What are the requirements?
Many apprenticeship programmes are often aimed at 16-24 year-olds and resident in the UK. However, some companies also run Adult Apprenticeship schemes with no age limits, often recruiting candidates from transferable jobs such as the automative industry.
The qualifications you can gain through an apprenticeship are NVQs levels 2 and 3 or a BTEC or City and Guilds qualification, right up to a Bachelors Degree. An apprenticeship can last between 12 to 24 months, but it can vary from employer to employer (it is advisable to check this first with individual employers). Most apprenticeships offer time off each week to study at college and companies often have in-house training labs as well as working with colleges equipped with the latest technology.
Manufacturing or Maintenance or Pilot?
In aerospace, apprenticeships are offered either by aircraft component manufacturers, such as BAE Systems, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Messier-Dowty, Goodrich or by aircraft maintenance providers, which could be an airline such as Flybe, British Airways or Virgin Atlantic or a specialist aircraft maintenance company e.g. ATC Lasham or Hawker Pacific.
In manufacturing, you will learn how to build the highly complex parts and systems that make up the aircraft components. In maintenance, you wil learn how to inspect, repair and maintain aircraft parts and systems often to Licensed Engineer standards.
For aspiring pilots, a new apprenticeship standard for commercial airline pilots is being developed by a specialist sub-group of the Aviation Industry Skills Board, which will be chaired by TUI UK & Ireland, managed by People 1st, and is set to increase opportunities in the aviation industry.
The commercial airline pilot standard, approved for development by the Department for Education, is also supported by other leading aviation employers, including, EasyJet, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and FlyBe, and has the backing of the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), the Honourable Company of Air Pilots and the Civil Aviation Authority.
What levels are there?
Apprenticeships are available at various levels with each leading to a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ).
These courses lead to a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Level 2, a certificate in Functional Skills (maths, English and ICT) and, in some cases, a relevant knowledge-based qualification (e.g. BTEC). An NVQ Level 2 is equivalent to 5 GCSEs (A-C).
These courses lead to an NVQ Level 3, a certificate in Functional Skills (maths, English and ICT) and, in some cases, a relevant knowledge-based qualification (e.g. BTEC). An NVQ Level 3 is equivalent to two A Levels.
These courses lead to an NVQ Level 4 and, in some cases, a relevant Higher National Certificate, Higher National Diploma or Foundation Degree. The HND and Foundation Degree are equivalent to the first two years of a degree programme.
These courses lead to a level 6/7 qualification such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree.