When you are at Sixth Form or school and trying to decide what you want to do next it is easy to get caught up in short-term thinking. Thinking that you want to go to university without really looking beyond to what you want to do next is easy to do. The fact is, whatever route you choose, the ultimate destination is the same – your job or career. While there are many different options available – apprenticeships are certainly one worth considering – especially if you look towards your career rather than just the training or education itself.
Whether you are working towards a degree or a different qualification, the purpose of all of them is to show that you have completed a course or training programme. Ultimately they all act to prove what you know, and at what level. It is worth considering where you hope your qualification will take you once you have gained it.
There is no way around the fact that there is still a level of snobbery among some employers, who will see the best graduates from the top universities as more employable than anyone else. This belief is based on years of ingrained thinking through our society, and certainly serves those who are fortunate enough to achieve good grades from the likes of Cambridge University. While the truth of this belief is open to question, it still seems to hold sway among many employers.
However, for the majority of young people the choice of how to get into their career has a number of other important considerations. These include the cost of the training or tuition fees, what you hope to get from it, and what your career goals are. There are also other factors, such as whether you want to move away from home, if you have other obligations, and even how you prefer to learn (hands-on or theoretical?). Plus, let’s not underestimate the importance of what your parents may think (we have some advice for parents to help teens choose a career too).
That said, it seems that apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly viable route into all manner of different careers. No longer just the preserve of the manual worker, apprenticeships have seen a surge in their appeal, and this looks set to grow as the government continues to pledge the creation of millions of quality apprenticeships over the next four years.
The apprenticeship levy means that employers are paying into the system, and you can bet that no business worth its salt would want to waste this money when they could use it to genuinely train and prepare a future generation of workers.
The great thing with apprenticeships is that you get invaluable on-the-job experience and training, which simply cannot be replicated elsewhere. Not just this, but as you train you will also get a wage like any other employee. Yes, the apprenticeship minimum wage is lower than that for regular employees, but even this is better than paying out for tuition and getting no wage at all, right? Plus, not every apprenticeship pays at this minimum, with some of the best offering pay much higher as you train.
Apprenticeships are not just about this on-the-job experience, but also about dedicated training. Since you will get the training from your employer, you should learn exactly how to do the job in the way that employers want. You will learn from people who are doing the job right now, which can make a difference when compared to learning from an ‘expert’ who may have actually been working in education for years!
Finding and applying for an apprenticeship is a lot like applying for a regular job, which can put some people off when compared to the simplicity of submitting your application to UCAS. But, even graduates will have to look for work at some point, so why not bite the bullet and get on with it now?
Employers have a vested interest in making sure you get the skills you need to succeed, as well as the qualification to prove it. Plus, while a lot of graduates find it tough to find appropriate work, many apprentices walk straight into their chosen career once they are qualified.
Looking beyond the next step, and towards your ultimate career goal may change your view of apprenticeships. Why waste time (and money) when you can get straight into training directly for your dream career? Take a look at the range of apprenticeships on offer – you may just find an alternative route into your own chosen career!