Cambridge Regional College - Centre of Vocational Excellence

FAQs for School Leavers

An apprenticeship is an excellent way of becoming qualified while gaining experience. It is a framework of qualifications, which enables you to earn while you learn, and pick up practical skills along the way. An apprenticeship is usually made up of qualifications that measure and enhance your skills, competency and knowledge; transferable skills in maths, English and IT (depending on your GCSE results); employee rights and responsibilities; and personal learning and thinking skills.

You work alongside experienced staff in a suitable job to gain job-specific skills and also receive training at college, usually on a day-release basis.

Most school leavers will start at on Intermediate Level 2 learning the craft of a trade or business.

Apprentices earn while they learn meaning they get industry-recognised qualifications and gain relevant work-experience at the same time. This can make apprentices much more job-ready and employable as they have the right skills and knowledge that employers are looking for.

For many apprentices, it is a step in the right direction on their career ladder with genuine job prospects and progression opportunities. This could mean going onto an Advanced or Higher Level Apprenticeship, further education or university (some apprenticeships already attract UCAS points). It may also lead to a full-time position in the company they do the apprenticeship at or career progression into a role with supervisory responsibilities.

The length of your apprenticeship depends on the type of programme you are doing and your existing qualifications, but in general it takes between one and two years. (Engineering can take much longer; for example, the Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Engineering is a three year course).

The major part of an apprenticeship programme is work-related and you will be assessed regularly against set targets. Depending on your programme you may also spend a day each week during term-time at college to develop your technical knowledge and literacy, numeracy and IT skills if necessary.

It depends on the apprenticeship programme you are on; many apprenticeships require college attendance for a full or half-day a week during term time. (Hair, Barbering and Beauty apprentices are required to attend college throughout the year except during December when it is their industry’s busiest period.)

Yes, maintaining a good level of maths, English and ICT is essential for the successful completion of the programme. There are exemptions depending on your prior qualifications (for example if you have a GCSE grade A-C achieved in last five years in English Language, maths and IT or equivalent you are exempt) and these will be discussed with you at the application process.

The entry requirements are dependent on the programme you are applying for, but most require at least:

Level 2: 4 GCSEs at grade D (3) including English and maths

Level 3: 4 GCSEs at grade C (4) including English and maths or a Level 2 apprenticeship or vocational qualification with Functional Skills at Level 2

All apprenticeship programmes require you to be in a suitable job role with an employer that will support you through your apprenticeship programme. You will need to hold a contract of employment and not be self-employed, working a minimum of 30 hours per week.

Apprentices need to have a job to do an apprenticeship. We can give you advice and guidance on how to get a job and we work with employers who regularly want to hire new apprentices. We list and update all our current apprenticeship vacancies on our website: visit

The National Apprenticeship Service also have an online vacancy matching service on their website where you look for apprenticeship jobs across your region with all training providers. Just register your details on

Each programme will be assessed and delivered depending on the individual requirements of that area. This may include classroom or workshop delivery or assessments through theoretical and practical tests.

However, all learners will be assessed in the workplace via regular assessor visits. During these visits, the assessor will assess you using a variety of methods including observation, questioning, professional discussions, witness testimonials and candidate work products and statements and also complete a review with you to make sure you are on target to complete and to give you the opportunity to discuss any problems or issues.

Apprentices get paid a minimum of £3.70 per hour for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship. Apprentices aged 19 and above in the second year of study will be entitled to the age-related rate. However, many apprentices get paid much more than this. A career progression for an apprentice is excellent and over the course of their career they can earn on average £100,000 more than those who don’t do an apprenticeship. For more information on the National Minimum Wage visit

You do not pay course fees, but employer fees may apply. You may incur other costs, such as course materials, trips, membership body fees etc. dependent on the type of apprenticeship you undertake.

Yes. Like other employees, apprentices will be given at least 20 days paid holiday per year as well as bank holidays.

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