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The apprenticeship advantage

The apprenticeship advantage


03 Feb, 2023

Want to earn while you learn, gain hands-on experience and industry-specific qualifications in your chosen field? An apprenticeship could be (more than) just the job!

Apprenticeships have long been a popular choice among those leaving the Armed Forces, providing a structured route into a new career that offers payment and support alongside real-world, hands-on experience. With a wide variety of apprenticeship programmes currently available, to suit all manner of interests and skill sets, you could well find your perfect match among the many roles on offer.

The MoD is a strong supporter of apprenticeships, providing those who serve with the opportunity to gain practical experience and valuable skills. Its aim is to invest in and equip Service personnel with the experience and aptitudes they need for successful careers – in uniform and beyond.

Why choose the apprenticeship route?

Apprenticeships offer a streamlined way to transition into a new career on leaving the Armed Forces, complementing on-the-job training with education – often a formal, widely recognised qualification – giving you the skills and qualifications you need to succeed in a variety of industries. And you’ll be getting paid a salary too!

Apprenticeship options

There’s a huge array of apprenticeships available, covering a diverse range of industries: engineering, construction, IT and healthcare, to name just a few.

Let’s start by taking a look at some examples from different sectors …

  • Construction: The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) offers a variety of apprenticeships in construction, including bricklaying, carpentry, and plumbing.
  • IT: The British Computer Society (BCS) offers digital apprenticeships in areas such as software development, giving ex-Forces personnel the chance to learn the skills needed for a career in the fast-paced and in-demand field of IT.
  • Healthcare: The National Health Service (NHS) offers a range of apprenticeships, including roles in nursing, healthcare support and healthcare science.

Apprenticeships in the above-mentioned fields, and others, are not specific to ex-Forces personnel of course, but have proved to be successful sectors for many veterans, making them a good fit.

Choose your level

It’s worth noting that, as well as different industries and areas, apprenticeships are also available at different levels, from intermediate to degree level. The level of apprenticeship depends on the level of the qualification the apprentice is working towards and the type of experience required for the profession in question.

Supporting Service leavers into apprenticeships

The government is working to make apprenticeships more accessible to ex-Forces personnel, backing up this commitment by implementing various initiatives to encourage employers to take on apprentices. The government’s Education and Skills Funding Agency, for instance, manages a scheme (available in England only) that gives a financial boost to employers who take on ex-Forces personnel as apprentices.

Apprenticeships therefore represent a great way for Service leavers to retrain and transition to civilian working life. And, with the support of the government and other specialist organisations, ex-Forces personnel in the UK currently have access to a wide range of apprenticeships.

The Career Transition Partnership (CTP) is one example of an organisation that provides support and advice to Service personnel looking to make the transition into civilian employment, and that includes information on apprenticeships. It has a dedicated team who work with ex-Forces personnel to help them find the right apprenticeship for their skills and experience, and can provide support throughout the apprenticeship. To find out more, visit

Another organisation that supports ex-Forces personnel in finding apprenticeships is The Royal British Legion (RBL). It offers a range of support to ex-Services personnel and works with employers to match the skills of veterans with apprenticeship vacancies. It can also provide mentoring and support throughout an apprenticeship.

Many large companies and organisations across the UK offer apprenticeships. Those likely to have an established ‘Forces connection’ include Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and Network Rail, allowing ex-Services personnel to continue working in similar fields to those they were in while serving, or to gain transferable skills.

Of course, these are just the tip of the iceberg and there is now a huge range of apprenticeships available, in a wide array of different fields. There really is something for everyone! Because it’s impossible for us to cover them all here, we’ll focus on just some of the options, organisations and employers (like those mentioned above) that might be of particular interest to ex-Service personnel. You can also check out the Careers section of our website, where you’ll find useful links to information on apprenticeships in the specific sectors and roles covered there.

Now let’s take a look at some examples that might suit you …

Your ideal apprenticeship?

As we’ve already noted, there’s a wide range of apprenticeships available that are likely to suit ex-Forces personnel, in a variety of specific industries, such as engineering, construction and IT, as well as in more service-oriented sectors such as healthcare and retail. Service leavers have a range of transferable skills that can be applied to many different industries and sectors, meaning there is very likely to be an apprenticeship available to match.

The aerospace, defence, security and space sector, for example, offers specific opportunities for veterans, such as working on avionics and weapons systems, cyber security, engineering and manufacturing roles in aircraft, ships and vehicles. Companies such as Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Babcock International are key employers in this sector. Visit their websites to check out the apprenticeship opportunities they offer.

Another option for ex-Forces personnel is the apprenticeship programme offered by engineering and manufacturing company BAE Systems. This is open to both veterans and serving military personnel, and offers apprenticeships in fields such as engineering, manufacturing and project management. BAE Systems is committed to supporting veterans and has a dedicated team in place to assist individuals in finding the right apprenticeship opportunity for them.

These are just a few examples and there are many more, of course, but we hope the above web links represent a good starting point.

The apprenticeship programme offered by British Gas (part of Centrica) is another option popular among ex-Forces personnel. It provides training and qualifications in gas engineering, both ‘traditional’ and in the fast-moving new field of smart energy, and is open to both ex-Forces personnel and civilians. Apprentices on this programme will work towards a qualification in gas engineering, and will also receive on-the-job training and mentoring. The programme includes both classroom-based learning and on-site training. Click here to check out energy-related apprenticeship opportunities from Centrica.

You might also like to check out the engineering apprenticeship programme offered by Rolls-Royce. It’s open to ex-Forces personnel, and provides training and qualifications in engineering. Apprentices on this programme work towards a qualification in engineering, and will also receive on-the-job training and mentoring. The programme includes both classroom-based learning and on-site training.

In the field of construction, Laing O’Rourke offers an Advanced Apprenticeship programme that is open to ex-Forces personnel. It provides training and qualifications in construction, and apprentices work towards a qualification in that field. Again, the programme includes both classroom-based learning and on-site training.

Another, lesser-known – but very valuable – apprenticeship is the Cyber Security Degree Apprenticeship offered by GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters). Apprentices on this programme benefit from on-the-job training and mentoring with GCHQ experts, and will also have the opportunity to study towards relevant qualifications, such as CompTIA Security+ and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). The programme, which takes 24 months, is targeted at ex-Forces personnel with an IT background looking to break into a civilian career in cyber security.

Another good example of an apprenticeship in the IT sector that might be of interest is the Cisco Networking Academy programme (an apprenticeship by another name), which provides training and qualifications in networking. Apprentices on this programme will work towards a level 3 qualification in networking, and again will benefit from on-the-job training and mentoring.

Where to find further info

In addition to the specific industry-focused opportunities we’ve looked at above, you should also take a look at the diverse range of apprenticeships offered by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS). The NAS is the part of the government’s national apprenticeship programme and offers a wide range of apprenticeships in a variety of industries. It has a dedicated team in place to help ex-Forces personnel find the right apprenticeship opportunity for them. Check out this page to find out more about just some of the apprenticeships that might suit those with a Services background (in this case, in the protective services – that means roles like firefighter, custody and detention officer and ordnance munitions explosives technician):

The NAS homepage is also worth a visit and a useful starting point for a browse, if only to get an idea of the kind of apprenticeships out there and which ones might appeal to you.

In addition, you can also source general information about apprenticeship opportunities through the CTP.

To sum up

Apprenticeships represent a valuable opportunity for Service personnel to transition into a new career on leaving the military. They provide on-the-job training alongside formal education, allowing individuals to gain the skills and qualifications they need to succeed in a variety of industries and boost their value to employers – all while earning a salary! There are various options to consider, from specific industry-focused apprenticeships to the wider range you’ll find via organisations such as the NAS and the CTP.

It’s well worth exploring the different options available, so you can find the right apprenticeship for your particular skills and experience, and access the support you need to succeed. Check out the companies and websites we’ve included above and the organisations listed in ‘Useful info’, below.

Final thought

If you are looking to transition into a new career (and if you are reading this, you probably are!) an apprenticeship is definitely worth considering!


National Apprenticeship Service

Find an apprenticeship

Best Apprenticeships

Career Transition Partnership

The Royal British Legion

Education and Skills Funding Agency