In 2020, the BBC reported that about 10,000 young people leave care annually.
Leaving care and being expected to navigate the world can be an extremely daunting process, but it is important to remember you are not alone; there are many avenues you can take and there is help and support available to ensure you reach your full potential. At the end of the day, you deserve the same opportunity to succeed as those who haven’t experienced care!
Apprenticeships are an excellent way to begin your professional journey as they provide a space for you to gain valuable skills and professional experience. This blog will outline what an Apprenticeship is and help you decide whether it’s an appropriate route for you. We will touch upon the benefits of Apprenticeships, give you our top hints and tips on how to ensure you secure a position, and finally, point to the help and funding surrounding Apprenticeships (and beyond!) that is available for care leavers.
Ready? Let’s dive right in!
What is an Apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships are an alternative route into employment, further education, and training for those aged 16 and above. They are an important part of the UK’s education and training landscape, providing young people with the opportunity to gain a combination of experience, skills, and nationally recognised qualifications – all while earning a salary!
Apprentices learn in the workplace under the guidance of experienced professionals, while also studying towards a qualification relevant to their chosen career. Apprenticeships combine practical, on-the-job experience with theoretical learning and typically last somewhere between 12 – 48 months depending on the Level or industry. Almost any sector can hire an apprentice, Apprenticeships can range from Tech and Digital, Hairdressing, Agriculture, and everything in between.
At Baltic, we are passionate about all things Tech and Digital. We specialise in Tech and Digital Apprenticeships, which provide a unique opportunity for individuals to gain valuable skills, experience, and qualifications in the ever-expanding world of technology. Our Apprenticeship programmes give learners the chance to work on exciting, cutting-edge projects with professionals in their workplace while receiving expert training and modern theoretical learning from our coaches.
Related reading: What is an Apprenticeship?
Can care leavers apply for an Apprenticeship?
Yes! Of course you can!
As a care leaver, you may find that Apprenticeships are a good route for you as you will receive support and stability from both your employer and your programme coach which will encourage a smooth transition into your new career. An Apprenticeship also gives you the opportunity to gain a qualification in your chosen field without having to complete a lengthy university degree – and Apprenticeships don’t leave you with a hefty student debt bill, either!
What are the benefits of doing an Apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships enable you to earn while you learn, improve your employability, let you achieve a nationally recognised qualification, and you gain real-life industry experience. Enrolling on an Apprenticeship programme and becoming an apprentice is an extremely rewarding process – not only is it beneficial for you professionally, but it also promotes your personal development.
Apprenticeships are a great way for young people to start their careers in a supported environment, with access to plenty of resources provided by experienced professionals; they equip you with invaluable knowledge and transferable skills that are applicable across a range of industries.
Related reading: What are the Benefits of Doing an Apprenticeship?
Interview tips for an Apprenticeship position…
When it comes to an Apprenticeship interview, it is important to do your research, be prepared, and clearly demonstrate why you are the right candidate for the role.
Here are a few hints and tips to help you bag your dream job…
1. Research the company and be prepared to discuss why you would be an ideal fit.
Understanding the business’s mission, goals and values can help you articulate how you could contribute to the company’s success.
2. Dress the part.
A general rule of thumb is that you should try and look smarter than the person interviewing you. Don’t worry if you don’t have anything to wear – there are some amazing charities, such as Suited & Booted and Smart Works, that provide free interview clothes to people who are unemployed or have a low income.
3. Practice your answers to potential job interview questions in advance.
This is so you are well-prepared and confident during your interview. Focus on your key strengths and experiences that relate to the apprenticeship role.
4. Take initiative by asking thoughtful questions about the role.
Consider asking about specific projects or areas of focus related to your desired apprenticeship position.
5. Have examples of past situations that showcase skills related to the role.
This provides assurance that you are capable of taking on the responsibilities associated with this position successfully!
6. Take your time and RELAX!
Take time to think through each question carefully before answering. Interviews should not feel like a race to the finish line – relax and try to enjoy the process.
Related reading: The Hardest Question for an Apprentice to Answer During an Interview
What is the Care Leavers Apprenticeship Bursary?
The Care Leavers Apprenticeship Bursary is an initiative established by the UK government to support young people, aged between 16 – 24, who have grown up in care or with looked-after status and are taking part in an Apprenticeship programme. The government recognised that care leavers face challenges when transitioning from care into adulthood, so this bursary programme is specifically designed to help young people who have experienced care gain access to career and employment opportunities. This means care leavers are entitled to a single payment of £1,000 from the government to help remove some of the barriers faced when completing apprenticeships.
What Other financial help are care leavers entitled to?
It’s important that you understand your rights when it comes to benefit schemes and your entitlements so that you can take full advantage of all options open to you – many of these schemes are not immediately apparent but they can significantly improve your personal circumstance and quality of life after leaving care.
In the UK, there is a variety of financial support options available to those who have left care. This includes government schemes and grants, depending on your circumstances. Whilst there is no guarantee that every application will result in success; understanding what funding is available and having access to professional advice where possible is vital to ensure you aren’t left struggling alone.
Universal Credit is a national government scheme which provides those eligible with a monthly payment to aid with living costs. This single monthly payment is easy to monitor and requires little paperwork meaning it is easy to manage. It is a very useful scheme for care leavers who are struggling financially due to low income or difficulty finding employment. Those who claim Universal Credit can also access free budgeting advice, debt guidance, mental health support and other additional services.
STAYING PUT SCHEME
If you are a care leaver in England aged between 16 and 25, you may be eligible for the Staying Put Scheme. This scheme provides funding for young people to stay in their former foster home or residential home whilst they make the transition into independent living. The funding can include rent payments and other costs associated with setting up a home, such as buying furniture and electrical goods.
LOCAL AUTHORITY GRANTS
Depending on your location, local authority grants are available to some young care leavers which would be paid directly to you from your local council. These grants can provide a range of financial and practical support, including help with housing costs, education, and training.
If you’re between 16 – 19 and in school or college, you may be eligible for the 16 – 19 Bursary Fund which means you should receive £1,200 for each year you stay in education – but you may need to ask your education provider to enrol you. Another helpful grant is the Leaving Care Grant, which means you can request up to £2000 from your local council to put towards setting up your new accommodation.
There are many helpful organisations and services available to care leavers in the UK.