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Information for apprentices

WHAT IS AN APPRENTICESHIP?

Apprenticeships combine practical on-the-job skills with study in an employed position within an organisation. You will gain the technical knowledge, practical experience and wider skills you need for your future career, through a wide mix of learning in the workplace, formal off-the-job training and the opportunity to practise new skills in a real work environment.

The Open University (OU) is the largest UK academic institution. We offer Higher and Degree Apprenticeships in healthcare, policing, social work, digital, management and leadership in England. Digital and IT programmes are offered in Scotland and Wales.

After successfully completing your apprenticeship, you will have gained an academic qualification and an apprenticeship certificate.

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WHAT ARE HIGHER AND DEGREE APPRENTICESHIPS?

Apprenticeships can be found at different levels depending on the job role that they are associated with:

  • A higher apprenticeship is equivalent to a Level 4 or 5.
  • An undergraduate degree-level apprenticeship is equivalent to:
    • Level 6 in England and Wales
    • Level 10 in Scotland
  • A postgraduate degree-level apprenticeship is equivalent to:
    • Level 7 in England and Wales
    • Level 11 in Scotland

For more information on apprenticeships levels, visit the following websites. The requirements and rules that support apprenticeship programmes depend on where you live and work:

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You can become an apprentice at any time during your career. It’s an opportunity to develop new knowledge, skills and behaviours that allow you to move into new roles and solve new challenges. At the OU, we have a mix of new hires and existing members of staff studying.

The OU’s flexible delivery allows you to weave your study around existing responsibilities at work and home successfully.

If your employer has let you know that they are supporting members of your organisation to undertake apprenticeships at the OU, you are in the right place.

Skip on to the following sections to learn more about working and studying with the OU. For more information on how to proceed see the “Next steps” section.

If you’re currently in work, now is the time to talk to your employer to see how they can support your plan. We recommend starting with your line manager and someone in your HR department. If someone in your organisation would like more information about how we can work with them to support your degree apprenticeship, they can call our business team on 0300 303 0122 or visit our apprenticeships website for employers.

If you’re not in work or are interested in an apprenticeship within a different organisation, visit the government websites below to see what's currently available.

  • England: www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship. There are up to 28,000 apprenticeship vacancies on the site at any one time. All apprenticeships vacancies in England are published on this website.
  • Scotland: www.apprenticeships.scot/find-a-vacancy. All apprenticeships vacancies in Scotland are published on this website.
  • Wales: careerswales.gov.wales/apprenticeship-search. Note that not all apprenticeship vacancies are published on this website. We recommend that you also visit the career pages of employers you would like to work for and the websites of the major recruitment agencies.

To apply for an apprenticeship, at the start of the apprenticeship programme you’ll need to be:

  • 16 or over.
  • Not in full-time education.
  • Working in a role that is relevant to your apprenticeship.
  • Working enough paid hours each week to undertake sufficient training to achieve your apprenticeship.

For more information see the “Next steps” section.

Watch the video where Tom Robinson-Williams, an IT architect at IBM, explains how he combines off the job training and working in his demanding role for his apprenticeship.

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Why do a higher or degree apprenticeship with the OU?

The OU offers apprenticeships that are:

  • Flexible – Through online and blended learning you can study at a pace and place that suits you, fitting your study around your life.
  • Supported – Practice tutors support you in the workplace and module tutors hold regular tutorials to support your independent learning.
  • Accessible - Our ‘inclusive-by-design’ apprenticeships are accessible to everyone. For most programmes, you don’t need to have the usual entry qualifications required for universities. Refer to the programme specific pages to see the entry requirements. The OU has a huge experience in supporting learners with additional needs. See the “Disability support” section to learn more.
  • Local - Wherever you are in the UK, our accessible online learning and nationwide network of tutors make us your local university.
  • Integrated - Our apprenticeships build knowledge and practical experience side-by-side, allowing you to put learning into practice straight away.
  • Relevant - Outstanding partnerships with employers let us co-create apprenticeship programmes to meet industry needs – as well as to the requirements of the Apprenticeship Standard - increasing your employability and chances to advance your career.
Picture of Melinda Green

The OU gave me the flexibility to study. My tutorials were all outside of working hours and were recorded, so even if you missed it, you can go back the next day.

Fola Yusuf-Adewuyi
Nursing Associate apprenticeship

Click here to read more about Fola's story.

See why Tom Robinson-Williams and IBM, the organisation he works for have chosen the OU.

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During the application stage, an APDM (or the Staff Tutor on nursing programmes) assesses whether you have any prior learning in a relevant field and at the appropriate level that can be counted towards your apprenticeship. Evidence of the learning will need to be submitted so that the university can decide about its suitability. Use the RPL factsheet link in the programme summary on each apprenticeship programme page to find out more.

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The Open University aims to make study as accessible as possible and a range of adjustments and support are included in modules for all apprentices as standard. Further adjustments are possible if you’re able to tell us about a disability and provide evidence. It's your choice whether to let us know about a disability or health condition that may affect your study. We’re more interested in you and your needs as an apprentice than in your disability as such. It enables us to support you more effectively if we know your specific requirements.

Find out more about what disability support is available.

Note: Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) are not available to apprenticeship learners, however, you may be eligible for Access to Work, which you can discuss with your apprenticeship employer.

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Off-the-job protected training time is a statutory requirement for an apprenticeship. It is training that you receive during your normal working hours, to achieve the knowledge, skills and behaviours of the approved apprenticeship referenced in the apprenticeship agreement. Normal working hours means paid hours excluding overtime.

Training that you receive for the sole purpose of enabling you to perform the work for which you have been employed or training that does not specifically link to the knowledge, skills, and behaviours set out in the apprenticeship standards is not considered off-the-job training.

It’s up to your employer and The OU to decide an appropriate delivery model. However, there is some flexibility for you to agree with your employer when to take the time for your off-the-job training. It may include regular day release, block release and special training days/workshops.

Off-the-job training must:

  • teach new knowledge, skills and/or behaviours that will contribute to the successful achievement of an apprenticeship
  • be directly relevant to the apprenticeship standard

Click on the flowchart below to see what counts as off-the-job training.

For full guidance, visit:

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SPEAK TO YOUR EMPLOYER

This is the first step. Before you start your apprenticeship, your employer will need to contact The Open University (OU). They can call us on 0300 303 0122 or use our contact form. They can also find out more at information for employers

CHECK OUT OUR APPRENTICESHIPS

The OU offers apprenticeships covering a range of skills areas including healthcare, social work, policing, digital, management and leadership. Read through the details to check what is right for your career and plan your next move.

CHECK ELIGIBILITY

Some programmes have specific entry requirements. You can find them on each programme page (programmes in England, programmes in Scotland, programme in Wales).

FIND OUT MORE

Our business team will guide you through the application process, tell you more about the apprenticeship you are interested in, and make sure it is right for you and your employer. There is time to ask questions throughout and obtain the support you need to make the right decision.

If you have any disabilities ask your employer how they would support your on- and off-the-job training through the ‘Access to Work scheme’. The Open University is also committed to support apprentices with disabilities in their learning and provides additional disabilities and learning support. To learn more visit our How the OU supports apprentices page.

SIGN THE AGREEMENTS

During the application process, your employer will receive the agreements from the OU, which should be signed by you and your employer. Examples of these agreements are The Apprenticeship Agreement and the Training Plan part one: commitment to learning and Apprenticeship Programme Plan in Scotland..

START YOUR APPRENTICESHIP

The start of the apprenticeship programme is where your learning starts and your first steps towards your goal. You will be supported by our academic and business teams and by a practice tutor who will accompany you throughout the programme and will ensure you are getting the most from this opportunity.

In the meantime...

While discussing options with your employer, you can get started on improving your skills today with our free courses on OpenLearn. Take short courses for soft skills (such as assertiveness and self-confidence) and also more formal skills (such as project management or IT applications), with Statements of Participation to evidence your CPD (continuing professional development).

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USEFUL LINKS

Welfare and wellbeing in the apprenticeship


Education & Skills Funding Agency European Union - European Social Fund Apprenticeships

Disability support

Find out how we can help your organisation

Please contact us to speak to one of our business team advisors.

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