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GetMyFirstJob | Where It All Starts For Apprenticeships

Level 4 (Higher) Apprenticeships

Level 4 (Higher) Apprenticeships are a fantastic opportunity for those who want to be academically challenged but also want to gain real world experience at the same time!

There’s a really simple way of understanding qualifications. They’re all given a number between 1 and 8, where 1 is made up of low GCSE grades (grades 3,2 & 1 or grades D,E,F & G) and 8 is a PhD (a doctorate) – the highest level of qualification from a University. Level 4 sits in the middle of this and is the next level up from A-levels, Level 3 BTECs, Scottish Highers and other equivalents. By doing a Level 4 apprenticeships you’ll gain a Level 4 qualification which is the equivalent to a Foundation degree or HND.

As a Level 4 apprentice, you will find yourself being academically challenged due to the level of the qualification, therefore you may need formal qualifications to be accepted onto the programme. Entry requirements likely include level 3 qualifications, such as a level 3 (advanced) apprenticeship, A-Levels, Scottish Highers or a Level 3 BTEC or NVQ. As many current employees are also put through level 4 apprenticeships, you may not need recent qualifications but instead need a considerable level of experience in the discipline of the apprenticeship.

Your Level 4 (Higher) Apprenticeship can take anywhere from one to five years for you to complete. As an apprentice, you’ll spend most of your time working with an employer on projects which are directly related to the topics included in your apprenticeship. At level 4, there is a wide selection covering almost every job type. You’ll also spend 20% of your time studying at a college, university or training provider working towards your qualification with people from a wide range of different employers, giving you the perfect time to meet other like-minded apprentices. Everything you learn you’ll also be able to apply back to your everyday work, making your day-to-day job that little bit easier!

Don’t forget one of the most important things through all of this; you’ll be paid! As an apprentice, you’ll be paid at least Apprentice Minimum wage for the first year of your apprenticeship and then National Minimum Wage for your age group after that. However, we’ve seen some higher apprenticeships pay over £20,000 per annum from your first year – that’s a salary many graduates would be happy to receive! You’ll have the same benefits as other employees at your organisations, which includes paid holiday and as you’re an apprentice you’ll be able to get student discounts too. Don’t mind if I do!

Level 4 apprenticeships are a great opportunity if you want to academically challenge yourself but also want to start working in a professional environment.

What are Level 4 apprenticeships like?

As a Level 4 apprentice, you’ll spend 80% of your time working with your employer and the rest of your time studying towards your level 4 qualification. You’ll be working at the office, factory, onsite or even working remotely depending on your employer and job requirements. You’ll also be studying with a university, college or training provider either in-person or online with plenty of opportunities to put your learning into practise in your day job.

Every apprenticeship is different because your employer is different and there will be a variety of projects that you could get involved with. Search opportunities and look at the job description to see exactly what you could be doing, but before you know it you could be managing projects, processes and even people as part of your programme!

You’ll be able to network and meet other like-minded people at work and those who have chosen the same route as you by doing an apprenticeship with your training provider, college or university. You’ll make new friends and likely have regular social events through work and your training provider!

What qualifications do I get?

If you chose to do a level 4 (higher) apprenticeship, you’ll gain a Apprenticeship at level 4 which might also include a qualification which could be a HND, Level 4 NVQ or BTEC, something from a professional body or a Foundation degree. You could also get – or work towards - chartered status in your role. This means being professionally recognised for your skills, knowledge and experience. In many areas of work, membership of a professional body is more important than a qualification on its own.

You could also work towards additional Functional Skills qualifications in maths and English too.

What’s the difference between level 4 and other higher apprenticeships?

Like all apprenticeships you will spend 80% of your time with the employer and 20% of your time working towards your qualification. The bit that varies with each apprenticeship is the level of qualification that you work towards, as well as the employer or training provider you choose. Level 4 apprenticeships are the lowest level of ‘Higher Apprenticeship’. It means that you’ll get a Level 4 qualification at the end of it, whereas if you choose a level 7 apprenticeship, you’ll get a Level 7 qualification at the end of it.

How do they work?

The way an apprenticeship work depends on the apprenticeship you choose to do and the employer and training provider that you choose. You’ll spend 20% of your time working towards a qualification, it is just how this is worked out could change. You might spend once a week training or spend block release away from work and training. The way this training is conducted also varies. You might train online in the workplace, at home or go to an external training provider, college or university.

Can I do a level 4 apprenticeship?

Entry requirements for level 4 apprenticeships vary depending on the employer and training provider that you apply through, however there are some basic requirements most (but not all) level 4 apprenticeships will require. You’ll likely need to have level 3 qualifications, such as a level 3 (advanced) apprenticeship, A-Levels, BTEC or NVQ. However, you may also be able to do the apprenticeship if you have relevant experience, or if you are retraining. We know of some graduates who are offered a Level 4 apprenticeship to gain new knowledge and skills when leaving University.

If you search for opportunities on the GetMyFirstJob website, entry requirements are listed for each opportunity, so you’ll know what you’ll need to get in. If you’re unsure, contact the person at the bottom of the opportunity listing!

What kind of Level 4 apprenticeships are there?

There are over 105 level 4 (higher) apprenticeships that you can do in the UK, some of them include:

  • Animal trainer
  • Associate Project Manager
  • Brewer
  • Business Analyst
  • Countryside ranger
  • Data Analyst
  • Marketing Executive
  • Network Engineer
  • Oral health practitioner
  • Senior culinary chef
  • Software Developer
  • Space engineering technician
  • Sports Coach
  • Town planning assistant

What does an employer look for in my application?

Level 4 (higher) apprenticeships can be competitive, as they are a great stepping stone into the world of work or a new discipline and there are always a limited number available. As with all jobs, make sure you know what the employer is looking for and tailor your application to explain why you’re a great candidate! If you’ve been able to gain some work experience, make sure you include that too. This doesn’t have to be a full-time job, a part-time role while you were at college or school would be a perfect example to show that you can handle the work/study/life balance. This will let them know that you can reliably hold down a job and possess good time management and prioritisation skills.

If you don’t have much experience, there are still ways that you can impress an employer. Make sure you emphasise these key skills on your application, whether that’s by using examples from extra-curricular activities or taking from experiences that you had at school, college or in your free time. To help you out with applications, we have compiled the three key traits that we think employers are looking for in our abundant experience operating alongside them:

  • 1. Enthusiasm
    You’ll need a genuine interest in the role and degree subject to work independently. It’s three years of your life – you’ll want enthusiasm to complete your work even when it gets tough!
  • 2. Character
    You’ll need to be mature enough to participate in the workplace and follow the etiquette there. That means someone who is dedicated to their work, studies and is a good fit for the company will be a crucial aspect of the apprenticeship application. Often, employers will use psychometric tests in the application process to find out more about you as a person – they’ll maybe even uncover things that you didn’t know about yourself!
  • 3. Academic Ability
    This is a very challenging option, and your employer doesn’t want to set you up to fail; after all, it’s in their best interests as well that you succeed! Grades aren’t everything, but you’ll need to make sure you can take on some of the harder academic aspects of the position.

What support will I get?

As a level 4 apprentice, you’ll get support from your employer and your training provider to ensure that you succeed in both your role and your qualification too. You’ll have someone at the training provider who will help you through the qualification and a manager in your workplace who will support you in your day-to-day job. You may even get a workplace mentor from the training provider or your employer who can help you with things you may not want to talk to your manager about, often mentors are people who have recently finished an apprenticeship themselves so can offer some sound advice!

How much does it cost?

Apart from commuting costs and the odd meal-deal if you’re working in the office or onsite, an apprenticeship is completely free, in fact you’ll be paid for doing an apprenticeship!

You’ll be paid at least Apprentice Minimum wage for the first year of your apprenticeship and then National Minimum Wage for your age group after that. We’ve seen some higher apprenticeships pay over £20,000 per annum from your first year – that’s a salary graduates would be happy to receive!

Are level 4 apprenticeships difficult?

Working towards a level 4 qualification on its own can be challenging as it will likely be the highest level of qualification you’ve worked towards. It’s true what people say that between college (level 3) and your first year of university (level 4) is probably the biggest academic jump you’ll make.

On top of this, you’ll also be working for four days a week, or 80% of your time, so you’ll have less time than people working towards a qualification full-time. But don’t worry, if you are successful in a level 4 apprenticeship application, your employer and training provider believe in you and want you to succeed, so they’ll support you to achieve everything you can!

What happens after the apprenticeship ends?

At the end of your level 4 (higher) apprenticeship, there are a few different things that could happen. You could be offered a permanent position at your current employer or you could be offered to go onto a different apprenticeship at a higher level. You should also consider the possibility that there isn’t a position for you at the end of your apprenticeship, so you could move onto a different qualification, employer or apprenticeship – your future is in your hands!

You’ll have the same benefits as other employees at your organisations, which includes paid holiday and as you’re an apprentice you’ll be able to get student discounts too.

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