The hidden secrets of apprenticeships

Young woman consulting old female client or new employee while pointing at laptop

Apprenticeships aren’t just for school leavers - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular, but there are still many misconceptions and a variety of benefits that many people aren’t aware of.  

Whilst there are many options for career progression and training, an apprenticeship provides a solid grounding, offering both training and a salary, which is why it is becoming a preferred route for many – both those starting their career and those already in employment. 

Did you know? 

  • Although there is a National Apprenticeship Wage, many employers pay more than this. For example, Ipswich Borough Council apprentices are paid 140% of the National Apprenticeship Wage in the first year (and at least that if there is a second year).  
  • Apprenticeships are available at different study levels. Ipswich Borough Council offers apprenticeships from Level 2, equivalent to GCSE, through to Level 7, equal to Masters-level qualifications. The council also sponsors degree-level apprenticeships at Level 6 for a range of professions.
  • Unlike a university course or unfunded college course, many apprenticeships are fully funded, so you do not have to worry about repaying a loan at the end of your programme. All apprenticeships offered by Ipswich Borough Council are fully funded, with no fees for the apprentice to pay. 
  • Apprenticeships aren’t just for school leavers. Many people mid-way through their careers undertake an apprenticeship for their career development or to make a career change. At Ipswich Borough Council, there are nine employees currently undertaking mid-career apprenticeships. 
  • On completion, many apprentices secure employment with the same employer, but there are many opportunities to progress elsewhere. It is not a requirement to stay with the same employer. Of the apprentices who recently completed their apprenticeship at Ipswich Borough Council, 50% secured employment with the council.
  • Many employers are now offering apprenticeship training to employees as part of continuing professional development. Currently 17 Ipswich Borough Council employees, not in an apprenticeship role, are undertaking an apprenticeship qualification. The council is committed to continuing to embed apprenticeships as part of its ongoing workforce development programme. 
Grafton House, the headquarters for Ipswich Borough Council

A number of apprenticeships are available at Ipswich Borough Council - Credit: Ipswich Borough Council

Meet the apprentices

Brian joined the council as a tenancy support officer and is currently studying a Level 4 Senior Housing and Property Manager Apprenticeship. 

“Probably like most people, I was surprised I could do an apprenticeship at my age – mid 40s,” said Brian. “We discussed the programme and it became apparent about the benefits of undertaking an apprenticeship as an adult working full time.”  

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Lisa joined Ipswich Borough Council as a business support apprentice in 2021. “I was made redundant from my job in retail and wanted to try something completely different,” she said. “I wanted to work in an office environment, but all the jobs required experience, which I didn’t have.  

“I explored the apprenticeship route, as you don’t necessarily need experience, just a willingness to learn and develop. I also wanted to work towards a nationally recognised qualification that I could put on my CV and help me to secure jobs in the future.” 

Amie is now employed as a trainee events assistant, after joining the council in 2020 as an events and hospitality apprentice. 

“I would say to anyone thinking about doing an apprenticeship, make sure you’re interested in that subject as it’s hard work but still needs to be enjoyable. Work on people skills and communication as you will be in an adult environment.” 

Alongside the apprenticeship training, Ipswich Borough Council apprentices are supported further through the council’s Apprentice Development Programme, which has been designed to enhance apprentices’ experience and skills, including communication, teamworking, presentation, problem-solving and decision-making. 

To find out more about apprenticeships at Ipswich Borough Council, visit