A Young Apprenticeship (pre 16) is a new route at Key Stage 4 (normally years 10 and 11), which allows motivated and able pupils to study for vocational qualifications. This means you will not just be in the classroom but may attend a local college, spend time with training providers and get experience in the workplace too. You will need to speak to your school to see if this is available to you alongside your GCSE options.

The Health and Social Care Apprenticeship (post 16) framework is available at two levels; level two Apprenticeship and Advanced Apprenticeship. An apprentice can expect to be doing work based learning with an employer and to be paid, either a wage if they are employed, or an allowance. The apprenticeship will include a National Vocational Qualification, Key Skills and a ‘knowledge based element or technical certificate and will normally take about 2 years to complete.

The frameworks are usually provided by colleges or training providers. If you know of a local provider in your area, you can approach them directly to request further information or an interview. If you are unsure, you should contact your Connexions Service or contact the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). The contact details for your local LSC can be found in your local telephone directory or by visiting www.lsc.gov.uk.

If you are successful in securing a place, you will be placed with a social care employer. This gives you the practical experience and training required. The college or training provider will plan a training programme, which is usually away from the employers premises, to help you study towards the underpinning skills and knowledge, the technical certificate and the key skills.

If you are already employed in social care and would like to undertake an apprenticeship framework, ask your employer if they can support you to undertake an apprenticeship. They may know of a provider if they have had links in the past or your employer may themselves be a provider. If not, contact the LSC to help identify a provider who will speak to your employer about what is involved.

The Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) and the Department of Health have worked closely to develop a more flexible approach, allowing 16-18 year olds to provide personal care as long as they are suitably trained/competent and are appropriately supervised. Care workers under 18 who want to deliver personal care must have completed or be undertaking the Apprenticeship in Health and Social Care and have satisfied their line manager of their competence to carry out these tasks.

The new guidelines also make it clear that care homes must fulfill appropriate regulations and the person who receives the care must have their choices respected as far as possible regarding who performs the task for them.

Recent changes to the apprenticeship eligibility have removed the upper limit of 24 years. Adult Apprenticeships for individuals over 25 are now available. The LSC has allocated funding for this although it is not as widely available as that for the under 25 groups. Your Local LSC will be able to advise you on the provision in your area.