Career Change Apprenticeships: Best Options for Adult Learners

Written by Nicola Wylie
Last updated November 1, 2023

Apprenticeships are not just for the young – they can open new doors at any age. Whether you want to change careers or gain fresh skills, apprenticeships offer a flexible way to retrain as an adult. We look at popular career change apprenticeships to give you an idea of what’s out there.

Combining real-world experience with academic learning, these programmes allow you to transition fields without losing income. The immersive training teaches you hands-on from day one, equipping you with specialised knowledge to excel in a new role.

Apprenticeships are ideal for pursuing new professional passions later in life. They facilitate moving into more advanced positions within your company or industry. Age discrimination is prohibited – you cannot be turned down solely for being an older applicant.

The key advantage is the practical training that gives you concrete abilities to apply anywhere. If a permanent job isn’t offered after completion, you can take your new skills wherever you choose.

What Exactly Is An Adult Apprenticeship?

Realistically, there are no specific “adult apprenticeships”. Contrary to what some may think, there are no upper-age restrictions on apprenticeships. The misconception that they are just for young people likely stems from the tendency for them to be marketed toward school leavers. However, apprenticeships remain open to adult learners of all ages.

In England, the only requirements are that you must be over 16 years old and not enrolled in full-time education. So, while there are no special “adult apprenticeships”, the same opportunities are available to applicants of all ages.

This lack of an upper age limit is actually a good thing. It means apprenticeships can be accessed by anyone looking to gain new skills or change careers mid-life. You have the same rights to apply and train through an apprenticeship at 40 as you would at 20.

That being said, higher-level apprenticeships like degree programmes are tailored for building experts. In this way, your work and life experience can make you an ideal fit for these selective roles.

So don’t let your age hold you back from exploring apprenticeships. They offer a valuable way to retool your skills and redirect your career path at any stage of adulthood. With open eligibility, you can take advantage of any and all apprenticeships to pursue your goals and passions.

Popular Career Change Apprenticeships

While there are many different types of apprenticeship, here are some of the most popular choices that adult apprentices decide to pursue:


Engineering apprenticeships offer a rewarding pathway for career growth, at any stage of your professional journey. They provide on-the-job training to help technicians and hands-on workers gain the formal qualifications needed to advance.

For employers, engineering apprenticeships build an invaluable talent pipeline. They facilitate upskilling current employees, putting them on track for higher degrees and certifications like chartered status.

With the UK facing an engineering skills gap, these programmes allow companies to cultivate the talent they need from within. Apprentices gain new skills that open doors to increased responsibility and income over the long term.

Business and Administration

Business and administration apprenticeships offer an excellent opportunity for career changers to transition into a new field. These programmes provide hands-on training in vital office management and organisational skills. Apprentices gain practical experience while earning an accredited qualification. 

With structured support, those from non-business backgrounds can successfully change career paths. Business apprenticeships develop transferable skills in communication, analytics, and problem-solving that apply across roles and industries. Whether you are seeking an administrative or managerial role, business apprenticeships supply the fundamental toolkit to kickstart a rewarding new career.

IT and Digital Media

Fancy getting into the world of tech or online media? Apprenticeships are a fantastic way for career changers to gain the skills for in-demand digital roles. You’ll receive hands-on training in everything from coding and data science to digital marketing and content creation. With technology and internet use booming, skilled digital talent is highly sought-after by employers.

By the end of your apprenticeship, you’ll have highly employable skills and a solid portfolio to show employers. Whether you’re new to digital work or want to formalise existing skills, these apprenticeships offer a fast track to new tech career opportunities.


Manufacturing apprenticeships can provide the ideal retraining route to a fresh career in this in-demand industry. These programmes offer hands-on training in roles like engineering, welding, production and more. You’ll gain job-ready skills and recognised qualifications whilst working on-site in the manufacturing industry.

With practical experience under expert supervision, you can pivot your career into this crucial sector. Manufacturing apprenticeships develop technical abilities from the ground up, so no prior experience is necessary.

These choices are popular due to the practical nature of these skills. Additionally, once the apprenticeship has been completed, these skills can be applied to a multitude of different roles, giving you a lot of flexibility in the future. However, this list is by no means exhaustive so be sure to do your own research into apprenticeships that match your career goals.

The Benefits of an Apprenticeship

One of the biggest benefits of apprenticeships is the apprenticeship levy. The levy is a fund that large businesses (£3 million-plus wage bill) pay alongside a 10% supplement from the government, which can then be used to hire apprentices. This scheme was created to incentivise employers to set up apprenticeship schemes.

Another key benefit of apprenticeships for adults is the specialised training that sets you up for success in a new career. Hands-on learning is an ideal way to transition into an unfamiliar field if you have limited experience. The applied training can even reveal natural strengths you didn’t know you had. 

Apprenticeships also open doors to development opportunities within your current role, helping position you for advancement. Don’t be afraid to try something new through an apprenticeship – you may just discover a hidden talent!

Finding Career Change Apprenticeships

Are you ready to begin the journey to a new and exciting career? Check out the Refreshing a Career job board for all the latest opportunities near you.

For career change apprenticeships, head over to our sister site Employing an Apprentice to find the ideal apprenticeship for your career aspirations.

For more advice on changing careers, we’ve compiled a list of career change support and resources to guide you.

Have a question? Feel free to get in touch with our team. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter below for all the latest news and opportunities from Refreshing a Career.

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Last Updated: Friday March 29 2024
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