Information for school-leavers, teachers and parents

School Leavers Apprenticeship Guide

School-leavers choose to find alternatives to full-time education for many personal and career-related reasons.

But continued full-time academic study after GCSE’s isn’t the only option for young people wanting to go far in life.


As teachers and parents, it’s likely you’ll play a major part in a young person’s decisions about starting their career.

It’s often a challenging time, balancing the pros and cons for a range of education and career paths. But achieving a successful career can be a reality for any school-leaver willing to work hard and develop the right skills.

Here, you can find out more information about school-leavers apprenticeships, why young people choose them, and how they compare with other options.


For young people looking to leave full-time education after GCSEs, school-leavers apprenticeships offer an opportunity to begin and grow a successful career.

Apprenticeships give school-leavers a real job, with the training, supervision and support to succeed in a choice of exciting careers.

In 1-5 years, they’ll have earned valuable industry experience and a certificate for a level 3 or 4 qualification – equivalent to A-levels or a diploma.

From there, anything is possible.


  • Real qualifications – equivalent to A-levels or diploma

  • A salary – with minimum wage guarantees

  • Responsibilities, maturity and independence

  • Support from tutors and supervisors throughout their training

  • New friends, environments and challenges

  • Equality, diversity, and employment rights assurances


For many teachers and parents, university degrees are often the preferred option for school-leavers. But, for some young people, an apprenticeship can offer much more.

Just like university, apprenticeships give school-leavers the opportunity to gain skills and respected qualifications, meet new people, and build the foundations for a successful career.

Unlike university, apprenticeships put school-leavers straight into a job – providing a regular salary, close support and valuable working experience. All while avoiding university debt.

Apprenticeships aren’t easy. Gaining a level 3 or level 4 qualification requires dedication and a willingness to work. But support is always on-hand from tutors, supervisors and colleagues. Equality and diversity frameworks, minimum wage, and employment rights and benefits are also guaranteed.


How do they compare?

School-leavers apprenticeships are full-time, paid jobs that incorporate training relating to the role. They last from 1 to 2 years and provide a salary of at least the minimum wage for apprentices. After the apprenticeship contract ends, the employer will choose whether to offer a permanent contract (although most do). Apprenticeships are intended to begin a career path, with dedicated skills, work experience and qualifications.

  • Full-time job, lasting 1-5 years, incl. a salary, holiday, sick-pay and other benefits
  • Provides good skills, experience and qualifications in a job role
  • No costs or training fees for the apprentice

University degrees immerse students in full-time academic study for 3 years (some degrees do incorporate job placements). Completing a degree does not guarantee a job, but it will give students a high-level qualification to begin and build a career upon.

  • 3-year full-time academic course
  • Provides high-level qualifications, but little or no work experience
  • Student pays tuition fees of up to £9250 per year

Internships are usually short-term, unpaid periods of work experience. They’re good for getting an idea of what an industry or job role is like. Internships are usually unpaid, but many will cover expenses (travel, lunch etc). While they may provide some basic new skills or experience, an internship is largely about getting a taste of a job – and showing a willingness to get involved.

  • Usually short-term, unpaid
  • Provides opportunity to experience a role or an organisation
  • Gives a taste of the job/industry more than offering employable skills


escalla is one of the top providers in Cheshire and the North-West of England for IT, and marketing apprenticeships.

We’re big on welfare

One of the reasons escalla is so popular with employers, teachers and parents – as well as students – is down to the way we prioritise our apprentices’ welfare.

Our commitment to serving our apprentices well, and investing in their journeys, has led us to become one of the top providers for student wellbeing. Our most recent Ofsted review scored us outstanding for the personal development, behaviour and welfare of our apprentices.


escalla currently offer seven apprenticeship qualifications. Our focused approach means we can dedicate expertise and resources to these areas, so that our training always meets the highest standards. All our trainers are qualified professionals with years of industry experience.