The 10 Best Apprenticeships in the UK

Illustration of a male leader giving directions to a group of five workers in a factory setting

If you ask any parent, employer or student about the problem with the state of higher education, they will inevitably state that these institutions do not provide enough real-world, on-the-job experience. While it is great to have a large paper on the wall, it won’t do much if you can’t sustain employment with a blend of hard and soft skills in in-demand occupations. Is this why apprenticeships are ballooning in the UK?

According to British government data, the number of apprenticeship starts has increased by 25% since 2016. With the UK on the cusp of entering a new era, the new generation of workers wants to be a part of that change by going back to what made the country great decades ago: the working man.

Many young people are working with trade and profession practitioners, garnering on-the-job training and attaining workplace skills, and complementing this with academic study. So, now that there is a demand for apprenticeships, the key thing is knowing where to find them.

We’ve compiled a guide of the best apprenticeships in the UK for 2019 and 2020.

10. Softcat

Since Softcat is ranked second in IT and consultancy and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index, this could be a great opportunity for school leavers looking to build on their skills and add to their list of qualifications.

Softcat apprentice programmes provide an incredible opportunity for young people interested in getting hands-on experience in sales, technology and business operations. All apprentices get paid on the programme and will be able to work on exciting challenges and receive guidance from senior colleagues. If you have an interest in technology and you’re ambitious and hardworking, it might be a good idea to check out these programmes. With nine locations in the UK, there is ample opportunity to learn and grow with Softcat.

9. BT

BT, the second-largest telecommunications giant in the UK, offers a diverse array of apprenticeships, including in engineering, logistics, sales and customer experience. The company also provides opportunities in its Everything Everywhere (EE) division.

BT offers four types of apprenticeship programmes: intermediate, advanced, higher and full degree apprenticeships. The length of these programmes ranges from one to four years, while they all offer a competitive salary. Apprentices, meanwhile, can continue their career with BT once they graduate from the programme. Performance is measured against personal and team objectives, and there is significant guidance from a dedicated apprentice coach.

8. EY

As one of the Big Four accounting firms in the world, EY remains one of the most desired apprenticeship locations in the UK. The company has established Intermediate Level (Level 2) Work Experience, Degree Apprenticeship and Apprenticeship programmes. If you can succeed in these apprenticeships, then it is almost guaranteed that you will be the highest paid among your indebted peers

The best thing about the EY apprenticeship programme is that you don’t need a degree to qualify. As long as you’ve finished school, you can apply, and if you have the required qualities and talent, you can get selected. All apprentices earn a salary from day one.

If a career in accounting is your long-term goal, there is no better programme for you. You can learn about assurance and accounting processes, business consulting, technology risk assurance, tax and business transactions through the many different types of business apprenticeships at EY. You also have the option of going for a degree apprenticeship in digital and technology or business leadership and management.

7. BMW Group

Whether you’re passionate about the BMW brand or you’re interested in technology, then you can consider one of seven different types of apprenticeships at the company:

  • business
  • engineering
  • finance
  • IT
  • leather
  • maintenance (BTEC National Certificate followed by a level 3 NVQ competency-based qualification)
  • toolmaker (BTEC National Certificate and a level 3 NVQ competency-based qualification)

You can learn first-hand just how incredible these vehicles truly are.

If your area of interest is cars and technology, and if you’re a team player, BMW is the perfect place for you. You can get a taste of real responsibility and real challenges within the manufacturing, engineering, technical or business areas of the BMW Group. Apprenticeship programmes range from 18 months to 4 years, and you can attain an NVQ Level 3 qualification. Some programmes progress through to degree level. Not only will you get a real-life business experience at BMW, but you will also be able to build a network of professional contacts.

6. Goldman Sachs

The Rolls Royce of finance, Goldman Sachs is still considered one of the most desired places of employment for anyone interested in finance. In the UK, the investment house offers a year-long Degree Apprenticeship programme in financial and technology services. This is tailored to students who are studying for a four-year degree at the Queen Mary University of London.

With the Goldman Sachs apprenticeship programmes, you can opt for a fee-free alternative to a university education. This way, you earn a salary and a degree at the same time. The apprenticeship programmes are open to European Economic Area (EEA) nationals who must meet the entry requirements of Queen Mary University of London.

All apprentices will be able to gain practical experience with real-time software and engineering assignments. Participants will receive a bachelor’s degree in digital and technology solutions once they complete the four-year program, and they will have the opportunity to apply for a full-time position with Goldman Sachs.


5. Santander

Although Santander has an eclectic list of apprenticeship programmes, its three biggest ones that fill up rather quickly are:

  • Digital Engineering and Digital Technology Apprenticeship
  • Data Science Apprenticeship
  • Corporate & Commercial Banking Apprenticeship

If you can handle Santander, then you can advance at any banking institution.

With the Santander apprenticeship programme, you will get an industry-recognised qualification as well as a salary. All participants receive training across the different business areas within the organisation, depending on the type of programme they’ve chosen. They will also have access to an online learning portal, where they can expand their knowledge on a wide variety of subject areas related to banking and finance.

All apprenticeship programmes have a dedicated training provider, and participants can acquire knowledge and skills through online courses, classroom-style learning, face to face events and practice experience.

4. BBC

As the world’s oldest national broadcasting organisation and the largest broadcaster on the planet based on its workforce numbers, the BBC is still a sought-after place of employing for journalists and young people looking for work in the media. It has two main programme types: Degree Apprenticeship and School Leaver Programme. Both specialise in business, engineering, IT, media and telecommunication.

You can choose from four different areas: Production, Design & Engineering, Journalism and Business. Through these apprenticeship programmes, you can get a real taste of how the world of media operates at BBC. The apprenticeships are unpaid, but participants are reimbursed for any travel expenses for each day that they attend. Also, there are paid placement opportunities which you can keep an eye out for when they’re advertised.

You can choose from four different locations: London, Manchester, Scotland, and Wales and Northern Island. You can also choose to work in television or radio. Programme duration can range from 6 weeks to 12 months.

3. BAM Nuttall

What makes BAM Nuttall an attractive place for an apprenticeship is that it offers various programmes in construction, business administration, facilities management, IT and engineering. Just be warned that the programmes range between Intermediate (Level 2) and High (Level 4 and 5).

The BAM Nuttall apprenticeship programme is designed for both school and college leavers and offers the opportunity to gain practical experience in the construction industry. You can choose from a graduate programme or a sponsorship or industrial/summer placement.

2. National Grid

What separates National Grid’s apprenticeship from others in the same industry is that its primary aim is to shape the future of energy. It coalesces practical work with academic study and attempts to give you the tools of knowledge, skills and passion to, err, power your future. It has three main programmes: higher apprenticeships, advanced apprenticeships and training programmes.

Participants will go through both practical work and academic study at the Eakring Training Centre which provides expert trainers, a 3D learning suite, classrooms, computer-based learning suites, real overhead lines, a substation and a gas transmission station. You can definitely develop the vital skills you need to advance in the energy sector with this apprenticeship.

All participants will receive a generous salary which will increase on completion of the programme. Participants also receive full-board accommodation free of cost, as well as reimbursement for all travel costs associated with the training.

1. BAE Systems

Ranked first in engineering and manufacturing, BAE Systems has three primary apprenticeships:

  • Apprenticeship Intermediate Level (Level 2)
  • Apprenticeship Higher Level (Level 4 and 5)
  • Advanced Level (Level 3) Degree Apprenticeship

But what makes its apprenticeship enticing is its wide-ranging subjects, which include software engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, finance, business and aircraft maintenance – to name but a few!

All participants receive a good salary and hands-on experience with on-the-job and off-the-job training. BAE offers 30 award-winning programmes and has an average of 2,000 apprentices at any time. In simple words, there is a great deal of opportunity if you have the right qualities and ambition.

What’s more, you can even continue with them once you finish your programme – nearly 95% of their apprentices choose to stay with them. With a BAE apprenticeship, you also have the opportunity to travel and work overseas.

Should finding a career require you to spend £30,000 on a degree? Many Britons don’t believe so.

In recent years, higher education has gotten bad a reputation, some of it self-inflicted. Poor standards, questionable practices and odd policy decisions on societal conventions, traditional postsecondary institutions are witnessing both an exodus of enrollees and an avoidance by high school students. Ostensibly, these facilities are losing market share to apprenticeship programmes, trade schools and other outlets that offer practical experience, skills and knowledge to pad your qualifications.

So, whether it is rising to the top of your electrical engineering field or enjoying a tremendous ability to earn a high salary, an apprenticeship opens up a world of opportunity. Are you ready for the challenge?

Have you enrolled in an apprenticeship at one of these top companies? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!