Apprenticeships

Information about the Apprenticeship Programme for potential apprentices & apprentice employers

What is our Apprenticeship Programme?

The Apprenticeship programme allows people aged between 16 and 65 to work with an employer to develop skills and knowledge whilst working towards achieving nationally recognised qualifications.

An Apprentice will have employment which will include a structured training programme, developing their skills to ensure they can do the job well. Although the programme can be demanding, it is also extremely rewarding and career progression for apprentices is excellent.

Have a look at our short videos below to get a better idea of how the programme works and what you can expect.

Learn a trade and get paid

NALS Apprenticeships


Apprenticeship Screening

Earn money while you learn

You can apply for an Apprenticeship if you are:

  • leaving or have left education
  • unemployed
  • in work and want a change

Apprenticeships are open to 16+ except those people who have already graduated with a degree or higher from University.

Apprenticeships are not just based on academic achievement, but you should ideally have 5 GCSE’s at Grade A* to C (or equivalent). Your practical skills and your interests also count.

The programme enables you to receive training, support and assessment to achieve an NVQ Certificate or Diploma and a technical certificate in your chosen vocational area, and undertake up to three functional skills.

You will also study Employment Rights and Responsibilities, Personal Thinking and Learning Skills.

If you achieve all of the qualifications in the apprenticeship you will not only receive certificates for the qualifications, but you will also receive a framework certificate to show you have completed your apprenticeship.

Northumberland Adult Learning Service offers:

  • Apprenticeships at level 2
  • Advanced apprenticeships at level 3
  • some NVQ’s at level 4.

The following programmes are available:

  • Adult Care
  • 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
  • Children and Young People's Workforce
  • Cultural Heritage
  • Customer Service
  • Hospitality and Catering: Professional Cookery, Food Production and Cooking, Preparation and Cooking
  • Information Technology
  • Cycle Mechanics
  • Retail and Warehousing
  • Supporting Teaching and Learning
  • Team Leading and Management

An Apprenticeship is a blend of on and off-the-job training that provides you with the skills you need for your chosen career, while earning a wage. If you are an existing member of staff in a company undertaking an Apprenticeship, you will be paid your normal salary whilst you work and study.

If you are joining the Apprenticeship programme with a placement for your learning, your training wage will be as follows:

  • 16 – 18 year olds £2.68 per hour
  • 19 – 20 year olds £2.68 minimum per week in year 1, and from year 2 onwards £5.03 per hour
  • 21+ year olds £2.68 minimum per week in year 1, and from year 2 onwards £6.31 per hour

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

If you are currently in receipt of benefits and wishing to start an Apprenticeship you may wish to discuss the impact of becoming employed as an Apprentice on your benefits with the Department for Work and Pensions.

You will be allocated a dedicated Training Officer who specialises in your qualification to help you through your programme.

Your Training Officer will visit you at your normal place of employment or work placement to provide advice, guidance, training and assessment. You will undertake your programme during your normal work time and your employer will be expected to release you to study in our training centre.

You will normally spend at least one day a week off the job in formal training sessions. You may have to do some self study in your own time. The time it takes to complete your Apprenticeship programme depends on the subject you are studying, how much experience and skill you already have, and how quickly you can progress through your training. It will be for a minimum of 12 months. Typically it normally takes:

  • 12 to 15 months at Level 2
  • 15 to 18 months at Level 3

If you are 16-18 the apprenticeship training will be free.

If you are 19+ and studying at level 2 or 3 the employer will normally be expected to pay towards training you.

If you are already employed

If you ant to start an apprenticeship in your existing job, then download an application form, complete it and send it to us with a covering letter from your employer confirming they support you to do your apprenticeship and they guarantee to continue to pay your salary whilst you study.

If you are not currently employed

If you are looking for an apprenticeship, then you need to check out the vacancies we have available, here and also online on the Apprenticeship Vacancy Matching Service (AVMS) at www.apprenticeships.org.uk/.

You need to apply for each vacancy you wish to be considered for on the AVMS website. Your online application will then be sent direct to us and will be assessed by us and the placement provider. To be considered for an interview you must attend a screening day where we will be looking at your English, Maths, ICT, Problem Solving skills and your attitudes towards Equality and Diversity, Safeguarding and Health and Safety. You will receive a one to one interview to see if you are ready for the demands of an Apprenticeship. If you do not attend the screening day you will not be offered an employer interview. Interviews are competitive against other applicants. If you are successful you will be offered a start date for your Apprenticeship and the employer will pay you your salary. If you are unsuccessful we will advise you on alternative apprenticeships available or other suitable training programmes.

Apprenticeship Vacancies

We are currently seeking applications for the following apprenticeship vacancies:

Specsavers Opticians - Customer Service Apprentice

Apprenticeship Vacancy Matching Service Ref No: VAC000421477

Closing Date: 21/07/2014

Hexham Abbey - Apprentice Cafe Assistant, The Refectory

Apprenticeship Vacancy Matching Service Ref No: VAC000460003

Closing Date: 03/08/2014

Tom Buttler - Apprentice Furniture Maker

Apprenticeship Vacancy Matching Service Ref No: VAC000449459

Closing Date: 03/08/2014

Robson Print Ltd - Business Administration Apprentice

Apprenticeship Vacancy Matching Service Ref No: VAC000462792

Closing Date: 27/07/2014

Blyth Community Enterprise Centre - Centre Receptionist / Administrator

Apprenticeship Vacancy Matching Service Ref No: VAC000459983

Closing Date: 20/07/2014

Maya's Childminding - Childcare Apprentice

Apprenticeship Vacancy Matching Service Ref No: VAC000436968

Closing Date: 20/07/2014

Heritage Accountancy Ltd - Receptionist/Administrator Apprentice

Apprenticeship Vacancy Matching Service Ref No: VAC000465517

Closing Date: 27/07/2014

St Benet Biscop Catholic High School - Receptionist/Administrator Apprentice

Apprenticeship Vacancy Matching Service Ref No: VAC000467414

Closing Date: 02/08/2014

For more information on these vacancies, you should first register at www.apprenticeships.org.uk and then you will be able to log in and see a full job description and apply online.

Case Studies - Apprentices tell their stories

Previous apprentices share their experiences.

Chelsea Trewick, Business Administration Level 3, started her career at Northumberland County Council as a Business Administration Apprentice Level 2.

Whilst demonstrating excellent office skills her long term goal is to be a primary school teacher. Chelsea progressed to Level 3 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 within the school. The Apprenticeship programme has helped me to progress my administration skills within a school. My long term goal is to become a primary school teacher and the Apprenticeship programme has helped to develop skills that will help support my future career’.

Lauren Allison is currently working towards her Business Administration Level 3 with Northumberland Adult Learning Services (NALS).

Lauren works in the Chief Executive office supporting the work of the Olympics 2012 torch relay throughout Northumberland. Nigel Walsh, County Tourism & Cultural Development Manager said, 'The role Lauren plays in supporting the 2012 programme is invaluable. She is a great ambassador for the Apprenticeship programme and her ability and enthusiasm is recognised throughout the team'.

Lauren said ‘My Apprenticeship has increased my confidence. I have developed my organisational and communication skills to support my administrative role. The experience I have gained will support my career in the future’.

Nathan opted to leave High School after taking his AS Levels. He wasn’t convinced that A Levels and University was the route he wanted to follow. He applied for a vacancy he spotted on the AVMS website 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 2 in Business and Administration in record time. He is now underway on his Level 3 and continues to impress his work colleagues and NVQ assessor with his positive attitude. Nathan has had the chance to build a website for ‘Aiming High for Disabled Children’ which has added more new skills to his repertoire and CV. “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 Fairless and Annie Stoker are currently working towards their Level 2 in Early Years in Childcare Apprenticeship programme through Northumberland Adult Learning Service (NALS).

They were interviewed for a placement at the Sure Start Children’s Centre in Hexham and such was their enthusiasm and desire to learn and work in the Early year’s field that the Manager, Lesley Grieve felt she was unable to choose between either candidates – so she decided to take them both.

Annie Stoker and Sophie Fairless said “We have been overwhelmed by the support and learning prospects that 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. We feel that this is certainly giving us a real foundation to build on and feel we will have many skills for future employment”.

When computer wizard Matthew Turner left school five years ago he didn’t bank on ever going back. Yet the 21 year old from Blyth has returned to his old classrooms - this time to take up a job as an Information Technology (IT) Technician.

Matthew secured his job at The Blyth School in Northumberland via an Apprenticeship. As well as gaining valuable experience in the workplace, he has gained a nationally recognised qualification in Information Communication Technology (ICT).

Now thanks to his Apprenticeship, which has been led by Northumberland Adult Learning Service, Matthew is back at his old school supporting other pupils, and their teachers, with their IT queries.

“I really loved my school days. IT was my favourite subject and I got an A* at GCSE. When I left I started off on a college course, but decided to apply for an Apprenticeship as I prefer to learn in a more practical, hands-on way,” said Matthew.

“To be able to combine my favourite subject, with ongoing training and a rewarding career is the icing on the cake,” he continued.

Bridget Knowles, Head Teacher, The Blyth School is happy to give Matthew credit for his hard work. “I wasn’t actually in this post when Matthew was a pupil here, but everyone speaks very highly of him. It is therefore great to welcome him back as a member of our team,” said Bridget.

“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 over 1,400 pupils and 180 staff, Matthews fixes hardware, installs software and carries out server maintenance. He also helps with strategic decisions, whether it’s planning new IT systems, helping us choose equipment or advising us which software is best,” added Bridget.

“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,” she continued.

Businesses and Employers – Get involved

Most employers believe that taking on an apprentice is a sound long-term bsuienss investment, with over two thirds confirming that employing an apprentice improves overall business performance and productivity.

Did you know?

  • Apprenticeships are open to all age groups from 16 years to 65 years.
  • The Apprenticeship programme can support your existing workforce as well as 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 into your business at no cost to your service.

There are three levels available:

  • Intermediate Apprenticeship Level 2
  • Advanced Apprenticeship Level 3
  • Higher Apprenticeship Level 4

With the current economic downturn putting more emphasis than ever on businesses remaining competitive by nurturing talent, Apprenticeships can play a key role in developing a skilled workforce for the future and supporting the region’s future economy.

Apprenticeships can help to stimulate growth in your business and help you to weather the storm of recession, whilst helping in preparing your businesses to take advantage of stronger conditions when the recession begins to pass.

Many companies in Northumberland and the north east are backing Apprenticeships and hosting non-employed young people in full time work placements and supporting them with a weekly training allowance.

But there is a need for more employers to provide opportunities to apprentices.

We are looking for employers in a wide range of sectors 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 many benefits that Apprenticeships offer.

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 £6k a year, advise you on how we will support your company through the Apprenticeship, and how we can pitch your vacancy with the new National Apprenticeship Service to attract great applicants.

Interested? Then call Karen or Jill on 01670 622114 for more information.

Employers in Northumberland can take advantage of a new funding initiative to help them recruit their first young apprentices. The £1500 grant is designed to encourage employers who have identified funding as a barrier to recruiting an apprentice to get involved in Apprenticeships.

With the help of the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), business can access one of up to 40,000 Apprenticeship Grants to the value of £1,500, that recruit their first apprentice aged 16 to 24, through Northumberland County Council Adult Learning Service.

Last year, despite difficult labour market conditions, more than 250 16-to-24-year-olds were on an apprenticeship with Northumberland County Council. But this year we are keen that many more young people are given the opportunity to start an Apprenticeship and benefit from learning while they earn.

Small and medium-size businesses across all sectors that have not employed an apprentice in the last year may be eligible for the £1,500 grant. Employers will be required to commit to employing an apprentice for a minimum of 12 months.

Here is the small print stuff about the grant

  • Employers must be a small or medium sized company employing less than 250 people and be employing a new apprentice (subject to funds still being available)
  • Employers are responsible for meeting the national minimum wage (NMW) for Apprentices throughout their programme. The grant can be used to help meet these costs. The NMW starts from £2.65 per hour for a first year apprentice.
  • The £1,500 grant is payable in two instalments of £750, the first on completion of week 8 ;and the second on completion of month 12. The grant is exempt from VAT
  • There are no other hidden costs for Northumberland Adult Learning Service’s Apprenticeship training, most of which is provided free.

For more information on the £1500 AGE 16 to 24 Apprenticeship Grant:

Call David on 01670 622114 or e-mail: Karen.Wilkinson@northumberland.gov.uk

Employers’ experiences

Find out how local employers have found the experience of hiring an Apprentice:

As a Head Teacher of a school for children with special educational needs, I require staff with very specific skills.

In recent years it has become clear that staff available, 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 which are needed.

As part of our ethos, at The Dales School, we are keen to support those who wish to develop skills by offering ‘placements’ whilst they work toward a qualification.

As the school increases in size, the issue of experienced and skilled staff has been magnified. As a result we decided to take the initiative and train our own potential staff. Our target group was agreed to be young people who had little or no experience, but were enthusiastic about working with children who have special needs.

Fortunately, we contacted the Employer Engagement Team at Northumberland Adult Learning Service to assist us in this, agreeing that what we needed could be addressed via Apprenticeships for Teaching Assistants.

When we had outlined our intentions, systems were quickly put in place to assist us in identifying suitable candidates. From the outset, where we agreed the job description and person specification; through advertisement and initial ‘sifting of applications’, to remove those who did not meet the essential criteria; to informing those selected for interview, the service provided was invaluable.

Following interviews and selection, the service continued providing: induction, a clearly defined Apprenticeship programme, and the on-going support of a Training Officer who will visit our young people whilst they engage with their year of training.

I look forward to a developing the relationship with the Employer Engagement Team at Northumberland Adult Learning Service in the expectation that, together, we can offer high quality training experiences to young people who will become the knowledgeable and effective workforce of future Special Educational Needs learning provision.

The staff at NALS are thrilled to be supporting this new venture with the Dales School and wish the staff and Apprentices great success together.

In December 2010, St Benet Biscop High School employed a Modern Apprentice in the Administration Department through the Northumberland County Council Adult Learning Service.

The Modern Apprentice is with us for 1 year and is working towards a Level 2 qualification in Business Administration. She is gaining experience in all areas of school administration including reception, finance, data, exams, using software, photocopying and filing.

Our second Modern Apprentice joined us in July 2010. This Modern Apprentice is again with us for 1 year and is working towards a Level 2 qualification in Information Communications Technology. He is gaining experience in all aspects of ICT and is assisting in the maintenance of the school’s administration and curriculum networks.

By the time both apprentices leave us they will be extremely well equipped to deal with the world of work and will manage to secure employment. They have both been a huge asset and very valuable members of their teams. I recommend the Modern Apprenticeship scheme highly and believe that we are giving our young people valuable work experience in order to gain employment in what is a particularly difficult time in the current recession.

Should anyone wish to discuss the Modern Apprentice experience with me then please feel free to contact me on muddm@st-benetbiscop.org.uk" Margaret Mudd, Assistant Head Teacher and Business Manager, St Benet Biscop Catholic High School.

Woodhorn Heritage Museum and Archive Centre in Ashington 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 firmly at the heart of a forward-thinking recruitment and training campaign, the Ashington-based museum recently appointed its first apprentices. The move forms part of a wider strategy by Northumberland County Council, which oversees Woodhorn, to inject new cultural heritage skills across the organisation.

Although Woodhorn was initially set up as a coal mining museum, it has spread its wings since first opening its doors in 2006. A series of visiting exhibitions, an abundance of tourists and a huge surge in people carrying out family and local history searches, keeps the museum busy all year round.

Jo Patterson, senior archives assistant, explains: “We are an incredibly active museum, which welcomes the general public, schools and education visitors. We also play host to people from far and wide, including the USA and Australia.”

The archives section in particular has seen a growing number of history hunters looking to find out more about everything from Border conflicts, legal agreements and plans through to photographs, maps, births, deaths and marriages. “As well as our archive materials on site, we also run web based electronic catalogues. This means that people can log on to our online systems and trawl through over 150,000 records from the comfort of their own homes,” said Jo.

Lending a hand is nineteen year old Robin Brownlee-Sayers, from Whittingham, who took up his post with the museum’s archives team through an Apprenticeship .

“Robin has really got to grips with the job, and has already become a valuable member of our archives team. He is involved in a whole host of duties which our archivists don’t always have time to do. This is bringing added value to the museum and our visitors too. What’s more, this activity is helping to generate additional income for the museum thanks to the fees we charge for some of these extra services,” added Jo.

“Now that I’ve experienced the benefits of Apprenticeships first hand, I’m a real advocate. I would recommend this type of structured recruitment and training programme to all employers. As well as bringing new blood into the organisation, it allows you to mould people to your specialist areas of work,” she continued.