Apprentices are smart people. They're learning on the job, gaining the skills and knowledge they need to do the job they want, gaining qualifications and real work experience, and getting paid. Talk about a win-win situation.
Apprenticeships might be for you if you're sure which job you want to do. You'll have to work hard and be dedicated, as working and studying at the same time can be tough. But if you make a success of it you'll be trained to do a specific job – so there'll be no post-course career crisis then…
Now for the science bit. Apprenticeships come in two levels: Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships. Either way you'll be working towards National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs), Key Skills qualifications and, in most cases, a technical certificate such as a BTEC or City & Guilds qualification. Apprentices work towards NVQ Level 2 and Advanced Apprentices work towards NVQ Level 3. Apprenticeships can also be a stepping stone to university.
Apprenticeships vary in content and size. It also depends how fast you progress and what fits in with your employer's work schedule. Some can take as little as 12 months and some can take up to five years, so you'll have to be prepared to be in it for the long haul. Most take 12 to 24 months though.
Some apprenticeships are very popular and you'll have to be very determined to get a place on one. But if you think it might be for you and you want to join the 250,000 young people currently on an apprenticeship, read the other articles in this section.