National Apprenticeship Week: Parent's & Carers FAQs

What your child chooses to do after leaving school is both exciting and daunting. There are lots of options available and understanding the pros and cons between different choices can be challenging.

Apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to university, with around half a million apprenticeship starts a year, and should not be overlooked.

They offer the opportunity to combine study with paid employment resulting in a professional qualification. There are no tuition fees (these are covered by the employer and the government) and the salary covers living expenses.

With a continued push to ensure that apprenticeships have the same status and esteem as a degree, they’re becoming even more relevant in today’s workplace. If your son/daughter tends to learn better in a practical environment rather than in the classroom, an apprenticeship could be perfect for them.

We’ve put together some helpful FAQs to help you better understand the benefits of apprenticeships and how System Group can support your child into a long-lasting, fully qualified career path.

What is an apprenticeship?

Essentially, an apprenticeship is a full-time job, combined with training and assessment. It is a genuine job, with training, meaning you can earn while you learn and gain a nationally-recognised qualification.

Apprenticeships used to be associated with trade industries (such as electricians, mechanics or plumbers) and were developed to help address the skills shortage in UK businesses. Nowadays, apprenticeships can be taken in a wide range of industry sectors and provide entry to all types of careers, you can progress with an apprenticeship to bachelor’s degree level and beyond.

System Group is a leading provider of logistics apprenticeships in the UK and we have a well-established network of leading employers recruiting apprentices, including DHL, FedEx, Royal Mail, Hermes, and more. Whether your child is interested in becoming an HGV driver, logistics coordinator, freight forwarder, or business administrator, our clients have a wealth of opportunities across different departments.

Taking an apprenticeship is not an easy option and competition can be fierce. It takes organisation and dedication to balance work, where your child will be expected to contribute to the same standards as everyone else, and study. Holidays are far fewer than at college or university. However, if they have a more practical, work-related bias towards learning this will suit them well and they will obtain valuable experience which will strengthen opportunities in finding rewarding work when the apprenticeship is over.

Why choose an apprenticeship?

Here are just some of the key benefits of taking an apprenticeship:

  • No debt. Training is fully funded if aged between 16 and 18.

  • No application restrictions. You can only apply for university and colleges once a year, whereas you can apply for an apprenticeship whenever you are ready.

  • Gain an industry-led qualification in a specialised area.

  • Support network. By starting their career with System Group, your child will benefit from an array of support, on-the-job experience, and skills that will enable their career to flourish.

  • Earn while you learn. Apprentices can earn up to £200 per week.

Who can become an apprentice?

Apprenticeships are open to anyone aged 16 or over, including workers, job seekers, school leavers, and career changers – but they must be living in England and not in full-time education. There may be specific entry requirements depending on the apprenticeship and the industry.

There can be competition from more experienced applicants, but organisations are often keen to take on school-leavers to train them both in the job and the organisation’s values. Very often the relationship continues long after the apprenticeship is over.

What does an apprentice earn?

  • Aged 16 to 18

The current National Minimum Wage rate for an apprentice is £4.30 per hour.

  • Aged 19 or over and in your first year

The current National Minimum Wage rate for an apprentice is £4.30 per hour.

  • Aged 19 or over and have completed your first year

You’re entitled to the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage rate for your age. You can find out exactly what you will earn by visiting:

How long does an Apprenticeship last?

Most apprenticeships last between 1½ and 2 years. Unlike college, there is no final exam, so the apprenticeship finishes when the programme of learning is completed. Some courses may take longer, particularly if you transfer from a Level 2 to a Level 3 mid-way through the study.

What do the different apprenticeship levels mean?

Apprenticeships are available at different levels, using a combination of real work with training to prepare an individual for their chosen career.


• Intermediate apprenticeship (Level 2) – equivalent to 5 A*-C GCSEs

• Advanced apprenticeship (Level 3) – equivalent to 2 A levels


• Levels 4 and 5 are equivalent to a higher national diploma or a foundation degree.

• Level 7 is equivalent to a master’s degree.

What qualifications do apprentices gain?

You can study an apprenticeship at either Level 2 (the equivalent of studying 5 GCSEs) or Level 3 (the equivalent of studying 3 A-Levels). If school and GCSEs were a challenge, then a Level 2 might be a good option to start with. If studying GCSEs was okay, then a Level 3 might be best.

The apprenticeship level for each job is set by the employer which means that if the vacancy is advertised as being at Level 3 but if the applicant doesn’t have the necessary GCSEs, they would be unlikely to be successful in applying. However, some employers might be prepared to start the position at a Level 2 and then change it to a Level 3 after a year if the apprentice had demonstrated that they had the ability to learn at a higher level.

What happens after the Apprenticeship?

Whilst most employers use Apprenticeships as a means to employing people – there is no official requirement for them to offer a full-time position at the end.

In the worst-case scenario, a person completes their apprenticeship and leaves with a great qualification that is either the equivalent of 5 GCSEs (Level 2 Apprenticeship) or 3 A-Levels (Level 3 Apprenticeship). These qualifications are very attractive to other employers and demonstrate to them that the applicant has the ability to work at this level.

Can you start an apprenticeship if you don’t have any qualifications?

We have a number of entry-level (Level 2) apprenticeship schemes with employers that don’t require any qualifications to apply. If the apprentice does not have a GCSE in English and Maths, they will be asked to complete those qualifications as part of their apprenticeship.

System Group supports our learners through online functional skills classes and workbooks to make sure they have everything they need to pass with ease.

What is the application process?

The application process is much more closely aligned to job applications than university applications. Applicants will need a CV, to be able to complete an application form and be interview-ready.

Once they are ready, applicants simply register their details with System Group and a member of our Apprenticeship team will be in touch to give more information about any vacancies we currently have and to run through what the learner wants to achieve. We will then match the applicant with an employer and start the full application process.

This varies between employers and may include:

  • Online application form – may also require a Curriculum Vitae (“CV”)

  • Online competency tests (these can be in any or all of English, Maths, logic, personality assessments, verbal reasoning)

  • Video response (usually this takes the format of your child answering questions that appear on screen, rather than a two-way video interview)

  • An assessment day, which may include group activity as well as individual interviews.

Unlike university applications where there is a fixed process that takes place at the same time each year, applications for apprenticeships come up throughout the year.

This might feel disconcerting if your child’s peers have all made their university applications and even received offers, whereas your child has yet to secure an apprenticeship, but the system is different because apprenticeships are tied to genuine jobs.

Hopefully this blog has answered a lot of your questions, but if you’re still unsure, you can reach us anytime on 0151 317 4450 or use the contact form.

You can also find more information on our Apprenticeship courses here and further reading at:

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