About CITB Apprenticeships
A CITB Apprenticeship combines on-site experience with college learning to provide the right balance of training and real life experience.
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A CITB Apprenticeship usually lasts between two and four years depending on where you are based and what level of qualification you are studying for. During this time you will be allocated an Apprenticeship Officer to support and guide you through your training programme.
As an apprentice, you will:
- be in full-time employment
- be paid at least National Minimum Wage for Apprentices - many apprentices earn considerably more
- gain a nationally recognised qualification
- get hands-on experience to help you develop the skills you need to kick start a successful career.
On the job training is structured and agreed with your employer to ensure you learn the right skills.
Off the job training is arranged for you at a college or training centre. You can complete this training on day release or over consecutive days in a series of blocks.
Plastering, scaffolding, bricklaying and carpentry are just a few of the many different apprenticeships available in construction. You might be familiar with some of the choices, but there are plenty of others that might just surprise you. You can find out more about what's available on Go Construct.
Levels of apprenticeship
The CITB Apprenticeship Scheme offers apprenticeships at three levels, depending on where you live in Great Britain:
- Level 2 - which is equivalent to GCSEs/Standard Grades
- Level 3 - which is equivalent to A Levels/Highers
- Level 4 - which is equivalent to Foundation Degree/Advanced Highers.
An apprenticeship to Level 2 takes two years to complete. Apprentices may continue for an additional year to achieve Level 3.
A Level 4 is for people who want to progress into Technical, Design and Management careers.
What will I be doing as an apprentice?
You'll be working for a company operating in the construction industry. The days are often long and it can be hard work but the rewards are excellent if you stick with it.
Employers vary in size from small businesses to large national and even international companies, so there could be plenty of opportunity to travel, maybe even abroad. You may also need to live away from home, so being independent will help you adjust quickly to your new life.
Naturally, you'll start at the bottom of the ladder learning how to do everything correctly, but as your skills and knowledge increase you'll be given more demanding, challenging and rewarding tasks. Many employers started out as an apprentice themselves and are now running their own successful businesses.
Your day will normally start before 8am, so that means you'll have to be up early to get to the site or workshop and you'll usually have to find your own way there. As well as leaving enough time for travelling, you'll also need to make your own arrangements to get there.
There is a minimum wage of £95 per week to start with but if you work hard and your skills and experience increase, so will your wage. Some employers pay more than this from the outset.
Apprentices don't save all their money, some of it will be needed for your new social life with the friends you've met at work and college. You'll have to keep some back to buy some quality tools as well, as this is just the start of your life as a tradesman and having the right equipment is vital if you want to progress.
You'll constantly learn new skills at college and put them into practice in a real working environment. These skills are vital to your apprenticeship and you'll need to record what you've done in your qualifications portfolio to prove you are competent in your chosen trade.
Qualifications as well as skills
Most apprentices follow a Traditional Apprenticeship route, which combines college (or training provider) attendance with learning on site.
CITB also offers Specialist Apprenticeship Programmes which include training from a corporate manufacturer or trade association instead of college.
As part of your apprenticeship, you will achieve an NVQ or SVQ which is the main qualification to show you can do your job. You can also use this to qualify for one of the industry card schemes, which are essential for getting on site.
The following qualifications will also be part of your apprenticeship:
- England - NVQ Diploma, Diploma, Functional Skills and Employment Rights and Responsibilities
- Wales - NVQ Diploma, Diploma, Essential Skills and Employment Rights and Responsibilities
- Scotland - Industry Approved Qualification
Specialist Apprenticeship Programmes
CITB Specialist Apprenticeships have been designed with trade associations and independent training groups. They provide training for those sectors and employers that can't access specialist apprenticeships through local colleges or training providers.
People working in specialist trades need to be very flexible with learning, so Specialist Apprentice Programmes allow apprentices to learn mostly while on the job. There is still a structure to what you learn though, which makes sure you get all the knowledge and skills you need to earn a recognised N/SVQ qualification.
Typically, a Specialist Apprenticeship lasts for two years with the learning delivered by industry experts and supported by CITB's own staff.