School leavers’ options: Intermediate Apprenticeships

An overview of one of the most popular school leavers’ options, for those who are ready to take their first steps out of the classroom.

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Intermediate apprenticeships are the first level of apprenticeships, a Level 2 qualification – equivalent to five good GCSE passes, and one of the most popular these school leavers’ options.

Intermediate Apprenticeships are designed to equip apprentices with the skills to thrive in the world of employment. As a guide, Intermediate Apprenticeships generally last around 12-18 months, although they can be longer or shorter. It’s the most popular level of apprenticeship, with around 298,300 people starting an Intermediate Apprenticeship in 2014/15.

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. They will study towards vocational qualifications that are relevant to their job, such as an NVQ Level 2. An Intermediate Apprenticeship will improve basic skills too – if apprentices don’t have GCSEs in English and maths they will usually be required to take a basic numeracy and literacy test.

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.

Intermediate Apprenticeships are offered in all sorts of areas and industries with all types of companies. There are Intermediate Apprenticeships in everything from construction and engineering, to tourism, publishing and IT.

Intermediate Apprenticeships are perfect for people who want to move on to the next level – an Advanced Apprenticeship – as they are 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.