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Apprenticeship Journey & FAQ’s

      To speak to our tutors, assessors and support staff come and along to an open day where you can discuss your goals. If you are unsure how to realise your aspirations or which course is right for you and would prefer an advice, private information and guidance session please contact us to arrange.

To see what apprenticeships we offer please see our Apprenticeship Course Directory 

Downloadable & Useful guides

Apprenticeship leaflet 2023-24 version

How to write a CV

How to communicate with employers 


What is an apprenticeship?

An Apprenticeship combines the best of both worlds: as an apprentice student you’ll gain skills, knowledge and behaviours to achieve a recognised industry qualification. You can still access all student benefits such as the TOTUM student discount card, the student well-being service, the college library and online resources. Alongside this you will be employed in a real job, be paid a salary or wage, receive paid holidays and other benefits your employer offers for example employer discount or healthcare schemes.

Why be an apprentice?

Earn whilst you learn! Apprentices not only gain the industry standard qualifications but will also have gained invaluable experience.Many apprentices stay with their apprenticeship employers on completion in permanent roles, gain promotion and, in time, train new apprentices.

The stages of an apprenticeship

  • Recruitment/Application – To study an apprenticeship apprentices need a college placement and apprenticeship employment. 
  • Interviews – Apprentices will have a college interview to secure a college place and an employer interview. 
  • Enrolment – All necessary paperwork will be completed, this can take 3-4 weeks 
  • Induction – The apprentice will attend a college induction of 1 or 2 days, apprentices must attend an induction as there is vital information given they will need to succeed on their apprenticeship, they will also be shown around campus so they know where their classes will be. 
  • On-program – This is the longest part of the apprenticeship where the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed to satisfy the apprenticeship standards are gained through on and off-the-job training. During this time the apprentice will build a portfolio of evidence using an online platform called SmartAssessor.  
  • Gateway – The college and employer will review the knowledge, skills and behaviours gained by the apprentice to ensure they have met the minimum standards required and are ready for their end point assessment (EPA). 
  • End Point Assessment (EPA) – This is the final assessment of the apprenticeship overseen by an independent assessor. The apprentice must pass this to achieve their apprenticeship.  
  • Achievement and Progression – After passing the EPA apprentices are issued with certificates and next steps are discussed, for example; a level 3 apprenticeship, a Higher or Degree Apprenticeship, employment or industry-specific qualifications.  

How do I apply?

An Apprenticeship requires a college placement AND employment. There are several ways this can be achieved.

  • Apply to a specific Apprenticeship Vacancy 
  • Apply directly for your chosen course, we can then help to find a suitable employer.
  • If you already have an employer to support you through an apprenticeship you can apply now to secure your place on the college course.

In all instances applicants will attend a college interview where they can discuss their aspirations and ask questions about the course. All applicants will complete a bksb Maths & English assessment as part of the application process, irrespective of prior achievement.

Applicants will receive an offer of a place on the apprenticeship course, if appropriate, and their details forwarded to suitable employers, with permission, for interview with them if they are looking for an employer placement. It is important to note that it is up to the employer who they employ as their apprentice.

If appropriate applicants will also be offered alternative routes such as study programs or part-time course as an option.

What are the entry requirements?

The entry requirements vary for each apprenticeship standard, for all you will;

  • Be at least 16 years of age.
  • Have a good standard of Maths & English, ideally GCSE 4/C or above.
  • Apprenticeships may have specific entry requirements which are stated on the apprenticeship course information, please see our Apprenticeship Course Directory to find out more

Apprentices who have not achieved the required Maths & English qualifications may be able to study towards equivalent qualifications called Functional Skills. This is subject to the results of bksb assessments, on some occasions it would be recommended that the applicant

How long will it take?

The length of the apprenticeship varies from 1 to 5 years depending on the apprenticeship and level chosen.

What does an apprentice earn?

The minimum apprenticeship wage applies to all apprentices 16-18 years old and apprentices 19 years old or over in their first year only. Apprentices 19 or over who have completed 12 months of their apprenticeship are entitled to the minimum hourly rate for their age.

Many employers do pay more than the minimum or will increase pay as skills develop or offer perks such as free lunch, contributions towards transport costs or performance bonuses.

What hours does an apprentice work?

The minimum number of hours is 30 per week which includes off-the-job training requirements such as college attendance. Actual working hours will depend on the industry, for example; working in hospitality is likely to involve evening and/or weekend working, working in schools is usually term-time only and generally . Many industries have busier times of the year when time-off may not be permitted, but this will not apply to college attendance.

What is an apprenticeship standard?

A standard is a new type of apprenticeship that has been developed to be occupation focused not qualification-led. They set out the skills, knowledge and behaviours an apprentice will need to have learned by the end of their apprenticeship. The learning takes place throughout the apprenticeship with input from both a training provider and the employer. At the end of the apprenticeship, the apprentice will need to demonstrate their learning and prove they can carry out all aspects of their job through an end point assessment (EPA).

What is an end point assessment?

The purpose of the end point assessment (EPA) is to test that an apprentice is fully capable of doing their job before they receive their apprenticeship certificate. It also helps to demonstrate that the apprentice can apply the skills, knowledge and behaviours they have learned in a real-world scenario.

The synoptic EPA has become a core feature of new apprenticeship standards because it assesses the apprentice’s performance across the whole standard rather than for individual tasks.

There are a range of assessment methods including:

  • practical exam
  • interview
  • project
  • written tests
  • multiple-choice tests
  • presentation or ‘pitch’

The apprentice will complete a minimum of 2 different assessment methods, the methods used will be the most appropriate to their apprenticeship.

After the EPA, the apprentice is graded by pass, merit or distinction. Clear grading descriptors set out the requirements to achieve each grade. The apprentice must receive at least a pass mark in all assessment methods in order to pass overall.

How do I get to college and work?

To travel to college there are free shuttle busses between campuses however, there are fees for all other routes to and from college which are reduced for apprentices are they do not travel to college as often. More information about college transport can be found here Transport – Buxton & Leek College (

Please carefully consider how you will get to work day, there are schemes available such as;

  • The B-Line card for those living in Derbyshire which provides reduced-cost bus travel throughout the county, more information is available HERE.
  • For those living in Staffordshire you may be eligible for the post-16 travel assistance scheme, more information is available HERE.

Wheels-to-work schemes help with costs associated with getting a moped or bicycles including training and safety equipment. They also offer assistance with planning routes via public transport;

Derbyshire Wheels to Work

Staffordshire Wheels to Work

Can I study at the university (Higher Education) level after completing an apprenticeship at college?

Yes! Buxton & Leek College are part of the University of Derby who offer an ever-increasing range of Degree Level / Higher Apprenticeships. Apprentices don’t pay their own tuition fees so you Earn a Degree without the Fee!




Buxton & Leek College engineering apprentice Jake Gordon, from Leek has won the title of “Young Apprentice of the Year” at the Staffordshire Chambers 2019 Business Awards.

Left to right: Steve Grindey, Key Plant Engineering Manager, Jake Gordon and Sharon Hughes, Key Plant HR.

Sharon Hughes, from Key Plant said of Jake’s achievement:

“Jake has come a long way during his apprenticeship, his confidence has grown hugely, and he now leads one of our export rotators build programmes.”

Speaking the following morning after the event, Jake said:

“I’m so happy that I’ve won! I went to a pre-awards event at the Mercedes-Benz showroom in Stoke, where excerpts of all the nominee’s work were shown, and I thought then that I was in with a good chance of winning. It was brilliant to hear my name called out and listen to the reasons why I’d won.


Life beyond an apprenticeship

After you have completed your apprenticeship a more advanced level apprenticeship may be available, see our course directory for more information.

The University of Derby, which Buxton & Leek College is part of, may also have opportunities to complete a Higher or Degree level apprenticeship in your chosen subject – Earn a degree without the fee!

For more information please see the University of Derby Apprenticeships webpage. 

If you are thinking of starting your own business after completing your apprenticeship there are several schemes that support Start-ups;

The Princes Trust 

MakeIt! Stoke & Staffordshire 

Start-up with Staffordshire Chambers 

Support in Derbyshire 

Staffordshire Moorlands Start-up loans 

There are also initiatives through the University of Derby;

SAIL programme information

UoD Help to Grow Management Invitation