Apprenticeship take-up is on the rise, but myths about this route still persist

Posted on: 7 February, 2024

This National Apprenticeship Week (NAW), we’ve teamed up with national property consultancy, Vail Williams LLP, to explore some of the common myths and misconceptions about the apprenticeship route.


By Tanya Horscroft, Learning & Development Manager at Vail Williams

Vail Williams has a growing apprenticeship scheme with 4 apprentices currently making their way towards qualification as Chartered Surveyors.

In this article, their Learning & Development Manager, Tanya Horscroft, explores just some of the misconceptions about apprenticeship schemes which she has come across over the years.

Dispelling 9 of the biggest apprenticeship myths

For NAW, we want to take the opportunity to highlight the positive impact that apprenticeships can have on individuals, businesses, and the wider economy.

For the first time since the pandemic, it’s great to be able to say that apprenticeship take-up is back on the rise. The number of enrolments nationally between August-October 2023 is up by 7% compared with the previous year.

To us, the benefits of apprenticeship schemes are obvious – apprentices often enjoy quicker career progression as well as gaining skills for life, all whilst earning a good wage.

But there remains several myths and misconceptions, which I want to take the opportunity to correct below.

1. Apprenticeships are only for trades/vocations (electricians, plumbers, chefs)

This isn’t true – it is possible to do an apprenticeship in a whole host of jobs, from office administration and engineering to commercial real estate and marketing.

Whether you want a career in finance or HR, or you want to become an occupational or physical therapist, there are apprenticeship schemes out there for you. Discover more about what’s available near you here.

2. Apprenticeships are for people who aren’t ‘academically inclined’

Apprenticeships are designed to be accessible to everyone, with the range starting at Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) and going through to Level 7 (Masters Degree equivalent).

3. Apprentices are there to make the brews

Employers today ensure that their apprentices are given value from the scheme, undertaking valuable tasks with core responsibilities in just the same way as they would have been, had they cone into the role with a qualification already.

Some apprentices already have a degree but are embracing a career change via the apprentice route.

Of course, the level of responsibility is on par with the experience of the particular person, and this will ramp up as they gain more knowledge and experience in the role. At Vail Williams, this means going out to do property inspections themselves, not making the tea – or at least no more than the rest of us would!

4. Apprenticeships are only for 16-18 year olds

There is a pre-conceived view that apprenticeships are just for those not wanting to go on to further or higher education. However, there is no upper age limit for apprenticeships.

Indeed, that is the case with one of our own apprentices, Leanne Conroy, who is 40 and has a young family. She joined our apprenticeship scheme and has been shortlisted for the Rising Star award at the Built Environment Apprenticeship Awards taking place later this week.

Visit the awards webpage >

5. An apprenticeship doesn’t lead to a ‘real’ qualification

In a degree apprenticeship you get a degree. This is of the same value as a degree attained outside an apprenticeship.

You get all the accompanying pomp and ceremony too – a certificate, a graduation, a cap and gown, the ability to put letters after your name. It is the same, except you get to earn a wage at the same time! Speaking of which….

6. Apprenticeships are just unpaid internships

Apprenticeships are paid. From 1 April 2024, the national minimum wage for an apprentice aged under 19 (or 19+ but in their first year of apprenticeship) is £5.28 per hour, and the national average salary for a first-year apprentice is £28,000 in the UK.

7. Apprenticeships are for people new to a business, not existing staff

Existing staff are also eligible for apprenticeships. There are some contractual specifics, but all the normal employee and apprentice rules and laws apply, so don’t rule it out.

8. Apprenticeships aren’t ‘proper jobs’

Some might argue that an apprenticeship is actually more difficult than ‘just a job’. Alongside doing the day job with real roles and responsibilities, apprentices must dedicate several hours per week to studying in order to achieve their qualification.

9. The apprenticeship route is a male-dominated path

Apprentices can go into almost any sector and an increased number of females are taking up the opportunity. 50% of our apprentices are women which is particularly important in a sector which has historically suffered with a lack of diversity.

Vail Williams is a national property consultancy employing over 170 people across 11 offices in the Midlands and North, South East and South Coast. An IIP Gold accredited company, the firm specialises in commercial and residential property advisory services.

For more information visit vailwilliams.com