The Changing Face Of Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are changing fast. This is partly due to the Apprenticeship Levy, which has caused many businesses look at apprenticeships for the first time. Also, a new law telling schools that they must promote apprenticeships and other vocational routes equally to academic career paths is set to see more young people exposed to the very real possibilities of apprenticeships. But these are not the only changes that look to overturn the stereotypical idea of what an apprenticeship is.

The traditional idea of an apprentice is someone who is young, and usually male, who is learning one of the ‘trades’ under the guidance of an expert – usually for very little money. There is a belief that apprenticeships are a lesser option when compared to going to university – however, this is changing quickly as apprenticeships become a truly viable option for school or college leavers everywhere.

Here are some of the changes that are taking place in apprenticeships right now:

  • Age

There are still a lot of young apprentices out there – school or college leavers who are embarking on their careers. An apprenticeship is a good way to get yourself trained and qualified for a particular career, so it is only understandable that many young people are now looking at this route, especially given the high cost and prospects of going to university. However, some companies, like Barclays, are also offering apprenticeships to adults wishing to retrain or learn new skills. This in itself is a sign that businesses are really realising the benefits of hiring apprentices – whatever the age.

  • Gender

Apprenticeships have long been associated with males doing trades like construction or plumbing, and while these industries still offer apprenticeships they have also got a lot better at attracting and recruiting women. British Gas are just one name who have been proactive about this for a number of years, but it is not just this that has seen an equalling out of gender across apprentices. There are also a lot more apprenticeships aimed directly at women in a variety of industries, which have all helped to improve the image of apprenticeships among females. This is just one area where work is changing along gender lines, as some are foreseeing a ‘revolution’ in the traditional gender roles in the workplace!

  • Choice Of Industry

We have already touched on how the traditional ‘trades-only’ view of apprenticeships is outdated, and this trend looks set to continue. There are already a wide range of careers and industries available to you via the apprenticeship route – including some that were previously pretty-much closed to anyone without a degree. This number looks to keep rising as the Apprenticeship Levy looks set to tempt many companies and industries who have never offered apprenticeships to start doing so.

  • Pay

‘Earn while you learn’ is a common phrase associated with apprenticeships, and it is true, you will be paid a wage while you work to qualify. Of course, you are not just working during an apprenticeship, you will also undergo training and work towards a qualification so you can prove you know what you are doing. It is true that the apprentice minimum wage is lower than the regular national minimum wage, but this is offset by the fact that you are not paying for your tuition, as with university. Plus, many of the best apprenticeships offer far higher wages than this minimum, so the notion of apprentices just being cheap labour for business is not true either.

These are just some of the changes that have hit apprenticeships in recent times, and there looks to be many more on the way as more companies start offering apprenticeships and schools do more to promote them as a very real option for young people. Why not have a look at the range of apprenticeships currently available where you live – you might just be surprised!

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