Can I do an apprenticeship without qualifications?

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Woman apprentice wearing ear defenders

Want to become a chef? How about learning the ropes of retail sales? Or maybe you’d like to work as a hairdresser?

These are just some of the jobs you can pursue by doing an apprenticeship. And you don’t need any qualifications in order to apply – not a single GCSE.

In this guide we’ll look at apprenticeships without GCSEs – you can apply straight from school without any prior qualifications. So even if you’re thinking “I failed my GCSEs”, never fear!

We’ll answer all your questions about apprenticeships with no qualifications.

What is an apprenticeship?

First, a quick recap. Apprenticeships are programmes that combine work and study. You gain practical training on the job, developing key skills and earning a salary. At the same time you attend college to study towards a recognised qualification.

Apprenticeships are a great option if you’re not sure university is for you.

You get:

Here are some useful articles you can read to learn more:

You can become a hairdresser by doing an apprenticeship
—and you may not need any qualifications to apply.

Can I do an apprenticeship if I don’t have any qualifications?

In a nutshell, yes you can! There are a number of apprenticeship schemes out there that you can apply for even if you don’t have any qualifications. So if you’re wondered and thinking, “I failed my GCSEs”, don’t worry – a fantastic career could still be available to you.

There are different levels of apprenticeships. The ones that sometimes don’t ask for any qualifications are “intermediate apprenticeships”. Sometimes they’re called entry level or level 2 apprenticeships.

Intermediate apprenticeships usually last between one and two years. They give you a work-based qualification, such as an NVQ level 2, and a knowledge-based qualification like a BTEC. Once finished, intermediate apprenticeships are like having five GCSEs.

In 2014-15, more than over 298,000 young people started an intermediate apprenticeship.

Important point! If you don’t have GCSEs in English and maths, you’ll usually be asked to take qualifications in those subjects as part of the programme. You might be asked to take a literacy and numeracy test.

What can I do an apprenticeship in?

There are intermediate apprenticeships schemes in more than 1,200 jobs. Many of these are apprenticeships without GCSEs, so you don’t need qualifications to apply. Here are a handful of the industries and job roles you could apply for:

The best way to get started is to use the government’s Find An Apprenticeship search tool, and look for “intermediate apprenticeships” in your area. If you scroll down on the job listing, you can check for the listed apprenticeships with no qualifications.

You can also check out the apprenticeship listings on Success at School.

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