AAT career coach: top tips for landing an apprenticeship

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It’s National Apprenticeship Week – the perfect time to start your search for an opportunity. Struggling to find an apprenticeship? AAT’s career coach Aimee Bateman offers some of her top tips and websites to help you on your way

The benefits of apprenticeships are clear: you earn a salary and gain a qualification at the same time.

Career progression for an apprentice is superb. The average apprentices’ wage is around £200 per week and, according to the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), apprentices can earn on average £100,000 more during their career compared to those who take a different route.

In fact, recent research conducted by AAT showed that vocational qualifications, such as a higher apprenticeship, can result in increased earnings of an estimated £150,000 over a lifetime – comparable to the graduate premium. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, if you are 16 and above you could join more than half a million who began their apprenticeship in 2011/12.

Apprenticeships: a well-structured learning programme

When it comes to training, apprenticeships are designed around the needs of employers in the industry. This means that they offer a well-structured learning programme, which takes you through the skills required to do a job well. Apprentices usually work a minimum of 30 hours a week, so a huge amount of your training is taking place in work and there are targets and assessments to ensure you are being supported by your employer.

An apprenticeship will range between one and four years and you will spend a minimum of 280 hours in ‘guided learning’, during the first 12 months. This is a big commitment and you need to ensure you find the right apprenticeship for you.

Firstly, do your research as there may be different entry requirements depending on the apprenticeship. Start by contacting the NAS, your local careers service and jobcentre plus. You can look for advertisements on job boards, but should also create a list of companies in your area. Pick up the phone or send them an email and ask them if they have any opportunities.

Some useful websites to get you started in looking for an apprenticeship

In my opinion this is the best website to visit when you are starting your research.

Official Government apprenticeship guide
Visit to access valuable information from this government organisation.

Skills Development Scotland
If you live in Scotland, this is a great resource for you.

Careers Wales
Careers Wales is the place to go and register your details if you are based in Wales.

Get My First Job
This site provides details of jobs, training providers, interview tips and even has a section full of advice for your parents.

Big Dog
Apart from a list of available opportunities, this website provides interesting article and a blog to guide you through the process.

Find Apprenticeships
A job board dedicated to apprenticeships. Search through thousands of apprenticeship opportunities throughout the UK.

Not Going To Uni
Full of career resources, this is my favourite apprenticeship website. You can spend hours on this site and not a minute would be wasted.

Once you have identified the opportunity, you need to identify whether it is the right one for you. Obviously the learning provider is involved in your development, but the employer provides the practical experience. Don’t be afraid to ask both parties enough questions to make your mind up.

Questions you should ask at your apprenticeship interview

  • What is the culture like within the business?
  • Have you employed apprentices before?
  • Where are the previous apprentices and what are they doing now?
  • Will I have a work based mentor?
  • What are the possible opportunities for me afterwards?

I appreciate competition for apprenticeships can be fierce, but don’t pick one that really doesn’t feel right just because you fear another opportunity won’t come up. It is essential you know your own mind during this process.

You need to be aware of what types of environments you thrive in. What types of people you work well alongside and finally, what learning style best suits you.

The more aware you are of your likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, the better choices you will make. Employers are looking for committed, capable individuals so a high level of self-awareness will help you go out, promote yourself and secure that apprenticeship.

Watch Aimee’s top 5 tips for school leavers interested in accountancy:

Watch more of Aimee’s AAT career coach videos

Visit Aimee Bateman’s website, Careercake.com

National Apprenticeship Week runs until 15 March. More information about studying AAT via an apprenticeship is available online.

Aimee Bateman is a corporate recruiter turned careers champion and founder of Careercake.com.

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