There are currently apprenticeship positions available in more than 1,500 roles across Wales, so discover how to kick start your career by earning as you learn
Apprenticeships are fast becoming a popular career path. Combining the more traditional destinations of the workplace and university or college, apprenticeships create the opportunity to gain valuable, on-the-job experience while studying towards an industry-recognised qualification.
On top of any course-specific entry criteria, to be eligible for an apprenticeship in Wales you'll need to be:
- over the age of 16
- living in Wales
- out of full-time education.
There are four types of apprenticeship on offer in Wales, corresponding to different levels of the Credits and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW): the foundation apprenticeship (level 2), the standard apprenticeship (level 3), the higher apprenticeship (levels 4-7) and the degree apprenticeship (levels 6-7).
If you're between the ages of 16 and 18, or over 19 and in the first year of your apprenticeship, you'll be paid £3.50 per hour - the current minimum hourly rate for apprentices. Otherwise, you can expect the national minimum for your age. Visit GOV.UK - Become an apprentice to check what you're entitled to.
An apprenticeship in Wales is the equivalent of the English advanced apprenticeship. Typically entered into by school leavers, apprenticeships have no upper age limit and are offered in a variety of sectors, including:
- building and construction
- marketing and advertising
- security and armed forces.
The full range can be found through Career Wales' Apprenticeship Matching service, the official apprenticeship application service for Wales.
Although apprenticeships are a combination of practical work and academic study, they are largely workplace-based. You'll go into college only one or two days a week to complete a CQFW Level 3 qualification, equivalent to two AS-levels, one A-level or a level 3 NVQ, for example.
To be eligible for an apprenticeship in Wales, you'll have to already hold a relevant CQFW Level 2 qualification. This could be a foundation apprenticeship or 5 A*-C GCSE grades.
An increasingly popular entry into a career, foundation apprenticeships offer on-the-job training and the chance to obtain an industry-recognised qualification equivalent to a level 2 NVQ or five GCSEs. From foundation level, apprentices can either enter the world of work or complete higher-level qualifications.
A foundation apprenticeship in Wales is the equivalent of an intermediate apprenticeship in England, a Level 2 in Northern Ireland and a foundation apprenticeship in Scotland.
You'll need to be between 16 and 24 years of age, a Welsh resident and already working 16 hours per week to apply for a foundation apprenticeship. Unlike most courses, there are no fixed entry requirements. The exact nature of the credentials you'll need to apply will be decided by your employer, who may value relevant work experience or specific qualifications.
Higher apprenticeships can be studied up to Masters level (CQFW level 7), and are most commonly found in industries that require high levels of academia as well as practical capability, such as digital and technology solutions, laboratory-based roles or software development.
They can be studied from CQFW Level 4, meaning you'll only need a relevant Level 3 qualification to apply. This could be two or more AS-levels, subject-relevant NVQs or diplomas alongside good GCSE grades (or equivalent). Higher apprenticeships are the equivalent of the first stages of higher education, such as a foundation degree.
The highest level of qualification, degree apprenticeships combine full-time work with studying towards the equivalent of a full Bachelors or Masters degree. Degree apprenticeships are studied at CQFW levels 6-7 and can take anywhere from one to six years to complete.
Degree apprenticeships are formed in collaboration between employers and universities or colleges. To enrol on a degree apprenticeship you'll need to hold a relevant level 5 qualification. This usually will include at least two A-levels (or equivalent) in role-specific subjects, although the specific entry requirements will be at the discretion of your employer.
For more information, see Degree apprenticeships.
How to apply
You can apply for apprenticeships of all levels in Wales in one of two ways:
- via the Apprenticeship Matching Service
- through individual employer websites, as some employers manage their own applications.
Unlike applying for university through UCAS, where applications can be submitted up to a fixed deadline, it's best to apply for an apprenticeship as soon as possible. Some employers will close their application window early if they've received a sufficient number or quality of applicants.
Find out more about how to apply for an apprenticeship.