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FAQS

Apprenticeships offer young people the opportunity to gain essential skills and knowledge in the workplace, whilst obtaining good qualifications and earning money.

You earn whilst you learn!


An Apprenticeship is an ideal blend of work and study. It will give you new challenges and develop your confidence and abilities. You’ll be surprised by how rewarding it is and how far it will take you. 

Qualified apprentices are highly employable. They gain valuable workplace experience and an insight into business that’s not available at college or university. Apprentices have demonstrated high levels of commitment and achievement and possess transferable skills that are attractive to all employers.

Apprentices earn while they learn. Unlike friends at college who run up debt, apprentices get paid a wage whilst gaining nationally recognised qualifications. What’s more, during their career, apprentices can earn about £100,000 more than those without training.

Unlike school, Apprenticeships allow you learn at your own pace. It can be a ‘second chance’ to gain new qualifications in an adult environment. We ensure you will get the support you need to succeed.

Apprentices tend to rise to the top. The experience and knowledge you gain, plus the relationships you develop, make it easier to progress quickly. Many former apprentices now run big organisations and attribute their success to their Apprenticeship.


You could be an apprentice in pretty much any industry. Some of the most popular are:

  • Engineering & Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Business Administration
  • Health & Social Care
  • Customer Services
  • Hospitality & Catering
  • Creative & Cultural

We can give you advice about which careers might suit you.


Every Apprenticeship contains a mixture of different qualifications chosen to suit you and your job. These include Functional Skills, QFC's and Technical Certificates.

Functional Skills are practical skills in 3 areas – English, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Mathematics. They help you to work confidently, effectively and independently. Qualifications & Credit Framework (QCF's) are work-related, competence-based qualifications. They are assessed in the workplace and show that the employee has the knowledge and skills needed to do the job. A Technical Certificate is a college based qualification, providing extensive up-to-date knowledge in a chosen area of study.

There are three levels of Apprenticeship; an ‘Apprenticeship’ which is Level 2, ‘Advanced Apprenticeship’ which is Level 3 and a ‘Higher Apprenticeship’ which is a level 4.

Apprenticeships are usually shorter and contain an NVQ at Level 2, whilst Advanced Apprenticeships include a more challenging NVQ at Level 3. When you start your Apprenticeship, you’ll also learn about your rights and responsibilities as an employee.

An Apprenticeship is a fantastic opportunity. Many apprentices who didn’t shine in school exams go on to achieve great things. Our support and guidance and your talent and hard work will unlock a wonderful career.


SWAC is responsible for your Apprenticeship and we will ensure you get the training you need. This will be delivered at a local college or by a private training provider and your 'Host Organisation'.

A training provider brings training to your workplace. They will visit regularly to assess your progress and to set targets and agree an action plan. They are experts in work-based training and will guide you through your QCF.

Your ‘Host Organisation' provides on-the-job training, so you gain the necessary skills required for the QCF. They give you an induction into the company so you understand your role and know to work safely and effectively. They will appoint someone to be responsible for helping you throughout your training.


It depends on several things such as which Apprenticeship you choose, how often you attend college and how fast you complete your studies. Typically, Apprenticeships last 1 to 4 years.

Apprenticeships are not easy. Sometimes you’ll need to study at home, at weekends or in the evening. You will need to be adaptable and remain focused but it is worth it!


South West Apprenticeship Company (SWAC) brings a fresh approach to Apprenticeships.

SWAC was set up to offer a new additional way to support Apprenticeships across the South West. Retaining all the existing benefits we offer new advantages such as increased flexibility, security and opportunity.

Apprentices are placed with ‘Host Organisations' for the duration of their Apprenticeship. SWAC identify employers who want apprentices, match them with suitable candidates and organise the delivery of training with colleges or private training providers.


Because apprentices are employed by SWAC and placed with ‘Host Organisations' for the duration of their Apprenticeship, we offer several additional advantages over ‘traditional Apprenticeships’.

Matched to You

SWAC helps find the ideal Apprenticeship for you. We focus on your talents and interests to find the right career path and then help find the Apprenticeship vacancy to match your ambition. We can even help with CV writing and interview advice.

Security

SWAC Apprenticeships are secure. If you are made redundant SWAC will search for an alternative placement to continue your Apprenticeship. We will even keep paying you for up to 2 weeks whilst this happens.

Reassurance

SWAC Apprenticeships are very safe and flexible. If things just don’t work out and we will work hard to find you another Host Organisation.  

Opportunity & Choice

We provide you with more opportunity. We can arrange ‘multi location placements’ if your chosen framework requires it, and spread your Apprenticeship over several Host Organisations. You would gain wider experience and broader skills by being in more than one workplace. For example, an automotive apprentice could learn ‘body work’ at one company, and ‘mechanics’ at another.

SWAC also appeals to a wider group of employers than traditional Apprenticeships, particularly lots of small or medium sized businesses, which means we offer a greater range of opportunity and choice.

Guidance & Support

If there are any problems, we are here to fix them!  We want you to succeed so we provide excellent mentoring and continual support to ensure your Apprenticeship runs smoothly and is successful.


It costs you nothing!

The cost of your Apprenticeship training is met in full or part by the Skills Funding Agency. This can vary but in general if you are aged 16 to 18 you can get funding for 100% of the training costs. If you are aged 19 to 24 approximately 50% of the costs will be funded and the rest will be contributed by the Host. If you are 25 or over then there is currently no government funding available and the employer would pay all the training costs.


Apprentices ‘earn whilst they learn’. Many of your friends will be going to college and running-up debts, but you will be paid a wage whilst gaining qualifications. During their career apprentices could earn on average about £100,000 more than those without training.

Remember that SWAC is your employer and we pay your wages direct to you. The ‘Host Organisation' who benefits from your skills and labour reimburses SWAC for your time.

As an apprentice your pay will depend on several things, including your age, how long you have been doing your Apprenticeship and sometimes the type of Apprenticeship you are doing. Minimum wages for apprentices are set by the government however many Host Organisations choose to pay more than this.


Apprenticeships are ideally suited to school leavers aged 16 to 18 but are open to anyone living in England aged 16 or over and not in full-time education. If that’s you then the answer is probably ‘Yes’. There may be some entry requirements depending on the industry, so tell us what you would like to do and we’ll let you know.

SWAC aims to help 16-24 year olds find Apprenticeships in the South West. If you are within this age group you are usually eligible to have your training paid in full or part by the government. If you fall outside of this age bracket you can find other Apprenticeship vacancies at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

Apprenticeships are not easy. They require commitment and focus. Competition for places is often fierce and good qualifications are always an advantage.

Different Apprenticeships have different entry requirements.  Entry to the Apprenticeship level can be made with lower GCSE grades than is needed for Advanced Apprenticeships. The usual requirements for an Advanced Apprenticeship are 5 ‘Cs’ at GCSE, ideally including Maths & English.

Academic records are not the only thing employers consider. Our Host Organisations are looking for enthusiasm and strong motivation. Those who can demonstrate genuine interest tend to do well in interview. Relevant work experience, part-time or voluntary work and any related hobbies will all help.

SWAC is in contact with hundreds of Host Organisations and we will try to match you to a suitable Apprenticeship vacancy. However we recommend that you also contact companies you would like to work with yourself. Let them know how keen you are, so when they do recruit, your name will be at the top of the list!


The first step is to apply online using our enquiry form. We’ll then get in contact with you and let you know what the next step will be. Alternatively you can look at our vacancies page and apply directly for a position you are interested in.


SWAC operates a matching service where we match apprentices to suitable Host Organisations.

However, you are more likely to find a position if you actively search yourself. We recommend that you also contact companies you would like to work with. Letting them know you’re keen and keeping in touch with them will ensure you remain in their minds when they recruit.


When you successfully complete your Apprenticeship you are in a great position!

Qualified apprentices are highly employable. You will have gained valuable workplace experience and demonstrated high levels of commitment and achievement. It is very likely that your ‘Host Organisation' will want to retain you and offer a permanent position. If not then SWAC will help you find a permanent job elsewhere.

You can also choose to go to college or university instead of employment. Your Apprenticeship qualifications will count towards obtaining a course.

Whatever you decide to do we will help you on your way.