If you're looking at careers in a digital or technology field, an IT apprenticeship guides you towards an accredited qualification while developing your key technical skills in the workplace
What IT apprenticeships are available?
From innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to leading multinational companies, IT apprenticeships are offered by a range of UK organisations.
As technology underpins everything we do, they are found across all sectors and not just in those for which IT and digital is their core business function.
- Engineering - BAE Systems, MBDA and Rolls-Royce.
- Banking and finance – Barclays, Deloitte and EY.
- Healthcare - the National Health Service (NHS).
- Media - the BBC, Sky and Virgin Media.
- Retail - Amazon and Nestlé.
Apprenticeships are offered at the following levels:
- Advanced - Level 3, equivalent to A-level.
- Higher - Levels 4 and 5, equivalent to a foundation degree or above.
- Degree - Level 6, equivalent to a Bachelors degree.
They may take the form of general IT or digital apprenticeships or focus on a particular area, such as:
- artificial intelligence (AI)
- computer programming, including coding
- computer science
- information and communications technology (ICT)
- software development
- software engineering.
Who are they aimed at?
Despite the perception that apprenticeships are for young people, there's no upper age limit. Apprenticeships are relevant to anyone with a genuine need for at least one year's training and can demonstrate competence in line with an apprenticeship standard.
Individuals that want to start an apprenticeship should not already hold qualifications equivalent to the apprenticeship being undertaken. However, they can start an apprenticeship at the same or lower level if they need to acquire substantive new skills and the content of the training is different from any prior funded training.
Apprentices must be new to the job role or have additional responsibilities, so they are relevant to individuals looking to progress internally, and employers can therefore start existing staff on an apprenticeship.
What's involved in an IT apprenticeship?
An apprentice should be employed for at least 30 hours per week where they'll complete a minimum of 12 months training. Most IT and digital apprenticeships are longer and can last for up to 24 months.
Apprentices undertake training both on and off the job, but all apprentices must be given a minimum 20% of off-the-job training to meet the requirements of the programme. This training must be structured, reviewed and most importantly help the apprentice achieve the knowledge, skills and behaviours included in the apprenticeship standard.
Off-the-job training must be 'away' from the workplace but does not have to be 'outside' the workplace - so it can include a range of methods such as role-play, online learning, shadowing or industry visits.
At the end of the training period, the apprentice takes an end-point assessment managed by an independent assessor. The IT and digital end-point assessments include the collection of key pieces of work in a portfolio, an employer's reference, a project and finally an interview with the assessor. At the end of the process the apprentice is graded.
The BCS Digital IT Apprenticeship Standards provide more information and cover key IT and digital apprenticeship roles at Levels 3 and 4, including:
- business analyst
- cyber security technologist
- data analyst
- digital marketer
- infrastructure technician
- IT technical salesperson
- network engineer
- software developer
- software tester.
If you complete an IT/digital apprenticeship through the BCS, you can apply for recognition of attaining the professional RITTech standard and get added to their register. Registration lasts for three years and you'll also have one free year as a BCS Associate member.
How much will I be paid?
All apprentices are paid the National Minimum Wage (NMW), which currently stands at £4.15 per hour for apprentices under 19, and those aged over 19 who are in their first year (as of April 2020).
If you're over 19 and have completed the first year of your apprenticeship you must be paid the minimum wage rate for your age.
To check apprentice rates and the NMW, visit GOV.UK - Become an apprentice.
As an apprentice you'll be paid for your normal working hours, as well as for any training part of your scheme. You're entitled to 20 days paid holiday per year, plus bank holidays. Salaries are determined by individual employers.
For detailed information about how apprenticeships work, pay rates, entry requirements and the difference between an apprenticeship and an internship, see what is an apprenticeship?
How do I apply?
Most applications are made online by completing an application form, although some methods may vary so be sure to check with the organisation first.
Apply for apprenticeships as you would for a job. Thoroughly research the company that you're interested in and ensure your CV is up to date. You'll need to tailor your application to fit the role by including evidence of relevant experience and examples of when you've demonstrated the required competencies.
For IT and digital roles, you could provide examples of any programming you've done or systems you've built - either in your spare time or as part of a university project.
Some organisations may ask you to sit situational judgement, numerical and psychometric tests as part of their initial recruitment process. You may then need to attend an assessment centre or undergo telephone or video interviews before reaching the final interview stage.
Read more about how to apply for an apprenticeship.