Northumberland apprenticeship programme

Northumberland apprenticeship programme

Find out about our learning & skills apprenticeship programme for potential apprentices and employers.

What is the Northumberland apprenticeship programme?

For information about our other courses, including skills, community and leisure, see below.

About our apprenticeships
The apprenticeship programme allows people aged 16 and older to work with an employer to develop skills and knowledge while working towards achieving nationally recognised qualifications.

Apprentices will:
  • be employed within a local business
  • earn a wage
  • follow a structured training programme
  • receive both on and off the job training
  • develop their skills to ensure they can do the job well
As an apprentice, you’ll undertake your programme during your normal work time. Your employer will be expected to release you to study at least one day a week in our training centre. You may have to do some study in your own time too.

Although the programme can be demanding, it is also extremely rewarding and career progression for apprentices is excellent.

Watch our short videos below to discover how our apprenticeships work:
Who can apply for an apprenticeship?
You can apply for an apprenticeship if you are:
  • aged 16 and over
  • leaving or have left education
  • unemployed
  • in work and want a change
Ideally you will have five GCSEs at grade A* to C (or equivalent). However, your practical skills and interests also count.

Please note: you can’t apply for an apprenticeship if you have already graduated from university with a degree or higher.
What qualifications can I achieve?
Apprentices receive training, support and assessments to achieve an NVQ certificate or diploma and a technical certificate in their chosen vocational area.

You will:
  • undertake up to three functional skills
  • study employment rights and responsibilities
  • study personal thinking and learning skills
  • receive certificates for all of the qualifications, including a framework certificate on completion of your apprenticeship
What subjects and levels can I do?
The following subjects are available:
  • adult care
  • childcare
  • business administration
  • construction: general construction, construction maintenance, trowel occupations, wood occupations, fitted interiors, fenestration, roofline products, highways maintenance, construction and site supervision, painting and decorating
  • cultural heritage
  • customer service
  • hospitality and catering: professional cookery, food production and cooking, preparation and cooking
  • information technology
  • cycle mechanics
  • retail
  • supporting teaching and learning
  • team leading and management
We offer apprenticeships at the following levels:
  • intermediate - level two
  • advanced - level three
  • higher - level four
Will I be paid?
Yes. New apprentices will be paid at or above the national minimum wage.

If you’re an existing member of staff in a company and you start an apprenticeship, you will be paid your normal salary while you work and study.

Click here for current information about the national minimum wage.

Apprentices are often paid monthly, directly into a nominated bank account. You’ll need to budget for your first month until you receive your first pay.

If you currently receive benefits and want to be employed as an apprentice, you may wish to discuss the impact this could have on your benefits with the Department for Work and Pensions. 
How are apprentices supported?
A dedicated training officer, who specialises in your qualification, will help you through your programme. They will visit you at your job or work placement, providing advice, guidance, training and assessment.
How long do apprenticeships take?
The time taken to complete an apprenticeship programme depends on the subject you’re studying, how much experience and skill you already have and how quickly you can progress through your training.

Apprenticeships last a minimum of 12 months and normally take:
  • 12 to 15 months at level two
  • 15 to 18 months at level three
  • 18 months at level four
How much will my apprenticeship training cost?
If you are 16 to 18, apprenticeship training is free.

If you are 19+ and studying at level two or three, your employer will normally be expected to pay towards your training.
Where can I get more information on apprenticeships?

Applying for a Northumberland apprenticeship

Here you will find information about how to apply for an apprenticeship.

How do I apply for an apprenticeship in my existing job?
Telephone Karen or Jill on 01670 622114 or email your details to

You’ll also need to send a covering letter from your employer confirming they support you to do your apprenticeship and guarantee to continue to pay your salary while you study.

If you aren’t employed and need help searching for an apprenticeship, click on the links below.
View our latest apprenticeship vacancies
For more information on our vacancies, register at the government apprenticeship site:  You’ll be able to log in, search for apprenticeships in Northumberland, see a full job description and apply online.
I’ve applied for an apprenticeship vacancy, what happens next?
Once you’ve submitted your application via, it will be sent direct to us. We’ll assess it with the employer.

To be considered for an interview, you must first attend a screening day where we will look at your:
  • English, maths, ICT and problem solving skills
  • attitudes towards equality, diversity, safeguarding, health and safety
You will then receive a one-to-one interview to see if you are ready for the demands of an apprenticeship. Interviews are competitive against other applicants.

If successful, you will be offered employment and a start date by the employer and they will pay your salary.

If you are unsuccessful, we will advise you on alternative apprenticeships available or other suitable training programmes.

Case studies from apprentices in Northumberland

Previous apprentices share their experiences here.

Chelsea – business administration
Chelsea Trewick, business administration level three, started her career at Northumberland County Council as a business administration apprentice level two.

While demonstrating excellent office skills, her long-term goal is to be a primary school teacher. Chelsea progressed to level three and gained a position with Whitley Memorial School, which will provide excellent experience to support her long-term goal.

Chelsea said: “I feel really lucky to work in the school. The apprenticeship programme has helped me to progress my administration skills and to develop skills that will support my future career.”
Lauren - business administration
Lauren Allison worked towards her business administration level three with us. Lauren worked in the chief executive's office, supporting the work of the Olympics 2012 torch relay throughout Northumberland.

Nigel Walsh, county tourism and cultural development manager, said: “The role Lauren played in supporting the 2012 programme was invaluable. She was a great ambassador for the apprenticeship programme and her ability and enthusiasm was recognised throughout the team.”

Lauren said: “My apprenticeship has increased my confidence. I developed my organisational and communication skills to support my administrative role. The experience I’ve gained will support my career in the future.”
Nathan – business and administration
Nathan opted to leave high school after taking his AS Levels. He wasn’t convinced A Levels and university was the route he wanted to follow. He applied for a vacancy on the government’s Find an Apprenticeship site and was successful in gaining a place within Northumberland County Council’s family and disability service.

“I wanted to acquire real job skills and experience and the apprenticeship programme has provided plenty of both,” said Nathan. He has made rapid progress and achieved his NVQ level two in business and administration in record time.

He is now under way on his level three and continues to impress his work colleagues and NVQ assessor with his positive attitude. Nathan has built a website for Aiming High for Disabled Children, which has added more new skills to his repertoire and CV.

He said: “I’m getting paid while I train and gain qualifications. I see this as a genuine route to a good career either in local government or the private sector.”
Sophie & Annie - early years in childcare
Sophie Fairless and Annie Stoker are currently working towards their level two in early years in childcare apprenticeship programme with us.

They were interviewed for a placement at the Sure Start children’s centre in Hexham. Such was their enthusiasm and desire to learn and work in the early year’s field that manager Lesley Grieve was unable to choose between either candidates and employed them both.

Annie and Sophie said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the support and learning prospects we have accessed as part of a very well managed and proactive team.

"The apprenticeship is a great start for us, as we are getting involved in a wide range of roles that involve different approaches and skill bases each time. This is certainly giving us a real foundation to build on and we will have many skills for future employment.”
Matthew - information communication technology

When computer wizard Matthew Turner left school five years ago he didn’t plan on going back. Thanks to his apprenticeship, led by our Learning and Skills service, Matthew is back at his old school supporting pupils and teachers with their IT queries, as an information technology (IT) technician.

Matthew has gained valuable experience in the workplace at The Blyth School, Northumberland, and a nationally recognised qualification in information communication technology (ICT).

“I really loved my school days. IT was my favourite subject and I got an A* at GCSE. When I left school I started a college course but decided to apply for an apprenticeship, as I prefer to learn in a more practical, hands-on way. Being able to combine my favourite subject with ongoing training and a rewarding career is the icing on the cake,” said Matthew.

Bridget Knowles, headteacher at The Blyth School, credits Matthew for his hard work. She said: “I wasn’t in this post when Matthew studied here but everyone speaks very highly of him. It’s therefore great to welcome him back as a member of our team.

“Matthew is the first apprentice to be employed by our school and we are very impressed with his progress. His role has become very important to us. As well as supporting more than 1,400 pupils and 180 staff, Matthew fixes hardware, installs software and carries out server maintenance. He also helps with strategic decisions, from planning new IT systems to helping us choose equipment and advising us on software.

“I would certainly recommend apprenticeships to other employers. As well as an opportunity to recruit someone who is keen to learn new skills, apprentices can be embedded in the culture of your organisation. That means they are comfortable with your protocols, procedures and particular nuances.”

Businesses & employers – get involved in apprenticeships

Most employers believe taking on an apprentice is a sound long-term business investment. More than two thirds confirm employing an apprentice improves overall business performance and productivity.

Click on the links below and if you’d like more information, contact Karen or Jill:

More apprenticeship information for businesses & employers
Did you know?
  • Apprenticeships are open to all age groups from 16 years and older.
  • Our apprenticeship programme can support both your existing workforce and new employees recruited into your business.
  • There are more than 200 different types of apprenticeships available.
  • You can use the national apprenticeship vacancies online system to advertise and recruit apprentices for free.
What benefits can apprenticeships bring to your business?

The economic downturn means businesses need to remain competitive by nurturing talent.

Apprenticeships can play a key role in:
  • developing a skilled future workforce
  • supporting the region’s future economy
  • stimulating business growth
  • helping your business through the recession
  • assisting your business as you prepare to take advantage of stronger conditions after the recession
Many North East companies are backing apprenticeships, hosting unemployed young people in full-time work placements and supporting them with a weekly training allowance.

There is a need for more employers to provide apprenticeship opportunities.
I’m a business interested in the Northumberland apprenticeship programme
What we’re looking for:
  • employers who want a staff member to undertake an apprenticeship or who’d like to employ someone new as an apprentice
  • businesses who can offer apprenticeship placements in construction, cycle mechanics, customer service, hospitality and catering, information technology, business administration, supporting teaching and learning and early years and childcare
It’s never been easier for your company to capitalise on the benefits of apprenticeships.

We can:
  • provide free advice on what taking on an apprentice will mean for your business
  • explain the great value you’ll get for under £6,000 a year
  • advise you on how we’ll support your company through the apprenticeship
  • help you to pitch your vacancy with the National Apprenticeship Service to attract great applicants
Please contact Jill or Karen on 01670 622114 for more information.

Click here to view employer's information on apprenticeships.
Grants for small businesses employing young people as apprentices
There are several grants to help employers in Northumberland who want to recruit an apprentice and have identified funding as a barrier.

Grants of £1,500 per person are available from the National Apprenticeship Service and the county council.

Small and medium-size businesses may be eligible. You will need to commit to employing an apprentice full-time for a minimum of 12 months and to pay the national minimum wage.

Apprenticeship case studies from Northumberland businesses

Find out how local employers have found the experience of hiring an apprentice.

The Dales School
“As a headteacher of a school for children with special educational needs, I require staff with very specific skills.
In recent years it has become clear that available staff, with the required skills, are rare. As a result, we have on occasion employed staff who are qualified but do not have the specific skills and experience we need.

“We are keen to support those who wish to develop skills by offering placements while they work towards a qualification. 

"The issue of experienced and skilled staff has been magnified as the school continues to grow. As a result, we decided to train our own potential staff. Our target group was young people who had little or no experience but were enthusiastic about working with children with special needs.

“Fortunately, we contacted the employer engagement team at Northumberland learning and skills service to assist us. We agreed what we needed could be addressed via apprenticeships for teaching assistants.

“Once we had outlined our intentions, systems were quickly put in place to help us identify suitable candidates. The service provided was invaluable from start to finish, covering everything, including agreeing job and person specifications, advertising, application-sifting and informing those selected for interview. 

"Following interviews and selection, the service provided inductions, a clearly defined apprenticeship programme and the ongoing support of a training officer to visit our apprentices during their year of training.

“I look forward to developing our relationship with the employer engagement team at Northumberland learning and skills service. It’s expected that, together, we can offer high-quality training experiences to young people who will become the knowledgeable and effective future workforce of special educational needs (SEN) learning provision."

At the learning and skills service, we are thrilled to support this venture with the Dales School and wish the staff and apprentices great success together.
Woodhorn Heritage Museum & Archive Centre, Ashington
Woodhorn Heritage Museum and Archive Centre might thrive on preserving the past but when it comes to developing the skills of its workforce, its approach is bang up-to-date.

Placing itself at the heart of a forward-thinking recruitment and training campaign, the museum recently appointed its first apprentices. The move forms part of a wider strategy by Northumberland County Council to inject cultural heritage skills across the organisation.

Nineteen-year-old Robin Brownlee-Sayers took up a post within the museum’s archives team through an apprenticeship.

Jo Patterson, senior archives assistant, explains: “Robin has really got to grips with the job and has already become a valuable member of our archives team. He’s involved in a whole host of duties which our archivists don’t always have time to do.

"This brings added value to our visitors and is also helping to generate additional income for the museum thanks to the fees we charge for some of these extra services.

“I’m a real advocate for the benefits of apprenticeships. I would recommend this type of structured recruitment and training programme to all employers. It brings new blood into the organisation and allows you to mould people to your specialist areas of work.”