School leavers’ options: Advanced Apprenticeships

Exploring one of the best school leavers’ options for students with good GCSEs but looking for something different to A-levels. 


Advanced Apprenticeships are a step above the Intermediate Apprenticeship school leavers’ options, and are designed for more challenging roles and developing advanced skills at a Level 3 qualification – equivalent to two A-level passes. It’s a chance to access great training, develop skills and gain qualifications whilst working for an employer.

As a guide, Advanced Apprenticeships generally last around 24 months, although they can be longer or shorter. It is the second most popular apprenticeship. In 2014/15, around 181,800 people started an Advanced Apprenticeship.

On these programmes, apprentices spend most of the time working for an employer and learning on-the-job, but they will also spend some time at a training institution or local college gaining qualifications at Level 3. These will include a Level 3 competence qualification, a Functional Skills qualification and a relevant knowledge-based qualification. In practice, this might mean apprentices spend two days a week at college and three days in the office or workplace.

Alternatively, they might only go to college once a fortnight (or maybe even less). Some employers use a ‘block training’ approach, concentrating the required off-the-job training into weekly or fortnightly slots across the year.

Advanced Apprenticeships are offered in all sorts of areas and industries with all types of companies; there are Advanced Apprenticeships in everything from animal care and education, to media, retail and law.

Advanced Apprenticeships are perfect for people who want to move on to the next level – a Higher Apprenticeship – as they are often a prerequisite for those schemes, but they are also useful for those wanting to stay in education and training (all those born on or after September 1997 must now remain in some form of education or training until at least their 18th birthday) but who do not want to follow the standard A-levels route.

Usually Advanced Apprenticeship applicants are required to have five GCSEs (grades A*-C) or equivalent, or have completed an Intermediate Apprenticeship.


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