Apprenticeships - Public Services

Going to university and pursuing a degree is not the only option available to bright students. With the significant cost of a degree combined with its potential devaluation, you may want at least to consider your options. There are a number of firms offering very attractive School Leaver Programmes. These are well paid and you may find run parallel to many graduate schemes. They have the attraction of being less competitive at A level entry, therefore gaining you entry into an organisation that you may struggle to secure as a graduate, when the competition is fiercer. You will also be debt free. These schemes are becoming increasingly popular with employers.

Schemes include:

Army: Apprenticeships

armyThe Army offers a number of apprenticeships. Their Level 3 is equivalent to 2 A level passes.

These apprenticeships apply to the Army’s technical trades. Advanced apprentices gain the relevant technical certificates through their trade training as well as an NVQ Level 3 and key skills. To qualify for an advanced apprenticeship, five GCSEs at grade C or above are required. Alternatively, a Level 2 Army apprenticeship is acceptable.

An Army apprenticeship is only the start. Every job in the Army offers the opportunity to progress to gain professional skills leading to higher qualifications, including full Bachelors and Masters degrees.

Apprenticeship subjects

The aim of apprenticeships is to provide training that is closely linked to a job, so the apprenticeships offered reflect whatever Army role is chosen.

The Army offers apprenticeships in many careers, including:

  • engineering
  • information and communications technologies
  • construction
  • driving
  • animal care

Civil Services Fast Track Apprenticeships

civil service fast trackThe Civil Service offers fast track apprenticeships. You will be placed in one of a number of roles and government departments throughout the UK. You'll be working towards a level 4 higher apprenticeship qualification. After the apprenticeship you'll be eligible to apply for the 'in service' Fast Stream and specific departmental talent programmes to accelerate your career.

Fast Track apprenticeships in 5 different frameworks. Each awards a level 4 NVQ and HNC Diploma.

  • Business Administration
  • Commercial
  • Cyber Security
  • Digital and Technology
  • Finance

Business Administration: You will learn core modules such as Business Strategy, Marketing and Organisational cultures

Commercial: Typical commercial roles would include; sourcing and managing the contracts for purchasing military equipment for the Ministry of Defence, sourcing and managing the best IT system to put in place across the Cabinet Office, or finding the right company to provide the maintenance of a new Prison for the Ministry of Justice.

Cyber Security: By completing this apprenticeship, you will develop the fundamental skills required for Cyber Security including incident response, risk management and digital forensics.

Digital & Technology: The Digital and Technology apprenticeship provides an exciting opportunity for those with a passion for technology to receive intensive training in software development and web operations.

Finance: You will get experience of the key financial processes such as financial accounting, budgeting, monitoring and planning.You will be supported to undertake either a Level 4 Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) or Level 4 Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) qualification during the two years of the apprenticeship.

What do you need to apply?

  • 5 GCSE's (A*-C) or equivalent; including English language and Maths.
  • Digital & Technology and Cyber Security applicants will also need 2 A-levels (A*-C) or equivalent in a STEM subject (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)

Engineering Management: DE&S Nuclear Undergraduate Apprenticeship

de and sDefence Equpiment & Support ( DE&S) offer an Engineering Management Nuclear Undergraduate Apprenticeship Scheme. They are part of the Ministry of Defence. It is a 3-5 year scheme where you earn an engineering degree. This is an exciting, challenging and exceptional opportunity to be involved in the UK Ministry of Defence submarine and strategic weapons programmes.

They will sponsor you through university and pay all your fees, while at the same time you will have an exciting introduction to MOD work. You will be given interesting placments in the UK. 

Academic Requirments:

  • 5 GCSE at grade C to A*, including english, mathematics and Science (preferably physics); plus
  • be studying for, 3 A levels, including mathematics minimum grade B, science (preferably physics) minimum grade B; plus 1 other at minimum grade C (excluding general studies), 

Fire & Rescue

firelogoYou can join the fire and rescue service once you are 18 years old. Recruitment is via each individual fire station. They recruit when they need fire fighters. Ther are no formal qualifications required to become a firefighter. However you do need to pass a series of written and aptitude tests. Becoming a firefighter does not come easily. You may spend months and years applying and getting yourself prepared to gain entry. 

Government: GCHQ/MI5/MI6 Higher Apprenticeship

gchqGCHQ is one of the UK's intelligence and security agencies, who gather and analyse digital and electronic signals from many channels, from all corners of the world. Converting this information into intelligence material, they play a significant role in informing national security, military operations, police activity and foreign policy. Customers include government organisations such as the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, as well as law enforcement agencies.

Joining the Higher Apprenticeships programme you'll be working with MI5, MI6 (the Secret Intelligence Service) and GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters).You'll be learning about - and working with - some of the best and most cutting edge technology. They offer 2 Higher Apprenticeships: British intelligence Apprenticeship in IT, software, internet and telcoms based in Cheltenham and sofware engineering degree based in Mancheter. 

Over the two-year programme in the former scheme, you’ll get a mix of university-delivered classroom and lab education in state-of-the-art facilities along with technical training, mentoring and job shadowing, and hands-on, work-based placements and projects.Your first year will be based in Cheltenham – in your second year, you might work at MI5 or MI6 in London. Either way, you’ll be taking on real business challenges in areas like software engineering, telecommunications, information assurance and cyber operations. There’s a strong emphasis on programming and technology, so a keen interest in these areas is important. The Higher Apprenticeship will lead to a Foundation Degree in Communications, Security and Engineering and a Level 4 Diploma in IT, Software, Web and Telecommunications Competence

The Degree Apprenticeship is more than a chance to ‘earn as you learn’. It’s your opportunity to gain a full degree level qualification, funded by GCHQ. The Apprenticeship features a mix of university accredited classroom based learning and placements in one of GCHQ’s business areas.You’ll get to work with some of the most cutting-edge technologies around by contributing to a variety of exhilarating, hands-on projects. There’s a strong emphasis on programming and technology. To apply you need three A-levels at BBC or above (or the equivalent), including at least two B’s in STEM subjects. 




Kent County Council: Accountancy Trainee Scheme

kentcountycouncilKent County Council offer an accountancy trainee scheme for recent A level students. You will gain gain professional qualifications through the programme of paid employment and study.

During the Kent accountancy trainee scheme you will have a series of 12 month work placements in finance teams across the organisation. Examples could be:

  • in the revenue monitoring team working closely with budget managers
  • in the chief accountant's team helping to produce technical accounting information
  • with a finance project team
  • one of many other placements available throughout finance and procurement.


Professional training is fully funded and in 2 parts:

  1. Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), taking 2 to 3 years to complete
  2. Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), taking a further 3 years to complete.

Part 2 includes an additional option to complete a research project before gaining professional membership to ACCA, which would be recognised with the award of a degree in Applied Accounting from Oxford Brookes University.

Apply online.

Merchant Navy: Master/Deck and Engineer Officer Apprenticeship

Clyde Marine Training offer a range of Merchant Navy apprenticeships.  A Merchant Navy career offers Trainee cadets a unique way of life and there are an abundance of career and job at sea opportunities for both men and women. Clyde Marine Training, working in conjunction with established shipping companies, offers trainee cadets sponsorship to attend specialist Merchant Navy training college courses throughout the United Kingdom. You will study for a foundation degree. Once you have graduated from these courses, which offer a mixture of college and sea life over a three year period, you can then enter your chosen career, as either:

    • Deck Officer
    • Engineer Officer
    • Electro-Technical Officer (ETO) 

Working closely with the Merchant Navy Training Board the training programmes will provide you with the skills and expertise to progress through the ranks. You could become commander of your own ship or have the full responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the ship’s propulsion units.

Your training

Clyde Marine Training is the UK’s largest training provider to the Merchant Navy. As well as enjoying excellent relationships with most of the world’s best shipping companies they also work hand in hand with some of the UK’s most highly regarded nautical colleges and marine training colleges/academies.They provide maritime trainees – both deck and engineering - with an educational environment that combines classroom and simulation learning with actual sea going experience on-board sponsor ships.

Clyde Marine Training work closely with the main maritime and nautical colleges in the UK. These include the following:

  • NAFC Marine Centre (Shetland School of Nautical Studies)
  • City of Glasgow College (formerly Glasgow Nautical College)
  • South Tyneside Colleges (South Shields Marine School)
  • Fleetwood Nautical Campus (Part of Blackpool and the Fylde College)
  • Liverpool John Moores University (Lairdside Maritime Centre)
  • Warsash Maritime Academy
  • University of Plymouth

Qualifications required

Applicants for the Foundation Degree and Scottish Professional Diploma routes require 120 UCAS points from 2 or more A Levels or Highers; these must include either Physics or Mathematics. Youwill also require 4 GCSEs or Standard Grades at grade C/3 or above including English, Mathematics and a Science based subject. Applicants for Electro-Technical Officer training must hold the qualifications required for the Foundation Degree.

Merchant Navy: Officer Trainee

Careers At SeaThe Ship Safe Training Group has for over 30 years provided an entry route for officer trainees wanting to develop careers at sea with the Merchant Navy. SSTG provides a recruitment and training service for shipping companies operating a wide range of sophisticated vessels and provides support to the officer trainees whilst at college and at sea. The Merchant Navy careers are incredibly varied, and SSTG will also guarantee that your college education is funded and that you are paid whilst you are training at sea.

The Merchant Navy provides opportunities for candidates to develop a career both at sea and perhaps later on shore. Qualifying for a career as a deck officer, engineer officer or an electro- technical officer will open up a great many opportunities to work in interesting and demanding positions each with their own potential for personal development. Your ultimate goal may be to qualify to command your own vessel as a master (captain) or chief engineer both of which could be attainable within 10 years for ambitious, hard-working and capable officer trainees. Thereafter you will have many opportunities to develop a further management career on shore in allied maritime sectors be this directly within a ship owners or management company, or in connected fields such as maritime trade, insurance, ship broking, finance or legal arbitration. 

Candidates must hold at least GCSE's (Grades A-C)/SCE Standard Grades (Levels 1-3), or equivalent qualifications, in Physics (or Combined Science), English (or subject using English), and at least two other subjects plus Mathematics at Grade B/2. These are minimum requirements and additional qualifications at this level are desirable and may be required by some companies. Candidates entering with ALevels, will have a shorter training programme. 

To apply you need to submit an online application form. This is then followed by an interview. 

Met Office: IT Trainee Scheme

metThe Met Office is at the cutting-edge of computer science. Information Technology is absolutely crucial to their overall success as a business. They offer an IT trainee scheme is open to those with two relevant A Levels, who are passionate about technology, ambitious to learn and willing to work hard and make a positive impact on business. This two year programme consists of six placements, covering a variety of IT and development areas. This structure enables you to learn a broad range of technical skills – from scientific programming to database management, web design to networking, software testing to Windows and Linux.

You will also be enrolled in the British Computer Society’s Professional Development Scheme and there will be a number of training courses, externally and internally, for you to attend.

Entry Criteria

  1. At least two A-Levels or equivalent with a significant numeracy, science and / or IT element

  2. Knowledge of at least one programming language.

  3. A keen interest in current and future IT developments.

  4. Effective analytical and problem solving skills.

  5. Ability to plan and organise work using your own initiative.

  6. Evidence of good oral and written communication skills. 

To apply you need to complete an online application form. 


policelogoIf you are interested in joining the police, then you can join straight from school, as long as you are 18 years old. There are a number of roles:

  • Police officer - Police officers are on the frontline of crime initiatives. But exact roles depend on the force you apply to and whether you choose to specialise after your training.Everyone who wants to become a police officer has to complete a two-year probationary period working on the beat as a patrol constable. Many officers prefer to spend the majority of their careers on patrol - but others opt to transfer to more specialist areas of work.
  • Police Community Support Officers - As a police community support officer (PCSO) you are the eyes and ears of your force on the street. You will have to deal with a range of issues including supporting victims of crime, helping with house to hoyse enqueries, dealing with truants, grafitti, abandoned vehicles, litter and protecting the public from security threats. You will be in uniform, but you won't generally have police powers. The extent of your powers can vary from force to force though so it's worth checking with the force you wish to join. This isn't a job for the faint-hearted, but if you want variety in a challenging and worthwhile career, then this could be for you.
  • Support Roles - there are a number of support roles such as analyst, front counter personnel, call handler and librarian. 

Eligibility requirments  

  • there are no minimum or maximum height requirements
  • there is no formal educational requirement, but you will have to pass written tests
  • you must be either a British Citizen, a citizen of the EU or other states in the EEA, or a Commonwealth citizen or foreign national with indefinite leave to remain in the UK
  • although you may still be eligible to join the police service if you have minor convictions/cautions, there are certain offences and conditions that will make you ineligible. If you are at all unsure, contact your chosen force for more information
  • you must physically and mentally be able to undertake police duties - this is less a requirment for the police communitysupport officer role. 

One of the most rigorous elements of the screening process is the physical fitness training - so ensure you are fit before you apply. 


If you're aged between 16 and 18 and you can't wait to get a taste of what it's like to be a police officer, you could join the police cadets now. There are lots of police cadet schemes around the UK, contact your local force for details of their scheme.

How to apply

You have to apply to a particular police force and you can only apply to one at a time. So check with your chosen force for information about their recruitment campaigns. 

Royal Navy Apprenticeships

royalnavyThe Royal Navy offers a range of apprenticeships that offer practical on the job training with study.  A future in the Naval Service is as specialist as it is unique, whether you choose to work on a ship, submarine, in a shore base or an air station. This is where personal development meets professional. You’ll go to places you’ve never been, experience things you wouldn’t anywhere else, and develop skills you don’t even know you have yet. Your study will be paid for, you will earn a salary and travel the world. 

Whether you choose to work on a ship, submarine, in a shore base or an air station, all new recruits will start on one of the intermediate apprenticeship schemes with the opportunity to gain advanced and even higher apprenticeships in the future. Apprenticeships inclide:

  • Business, administration and law
  • Engineering & manufacturing technologies
  • Health & social care
  • Information & communication technology
  • Leisure, travel and tourism
  • Public services
  • Retail and commercial enterprise

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