Sweeter Than Sugar: Why It’s Time For A Fresh Look At ApprenticeshipsPosted: 12th of August 2015 by
What does the word ‘Apprentice’ mean to you? There has been a lot of talk of apprenticeships in the media this year – from the build up to the general election right through to the pledges made by the Conservative government. However, for all the talk, the word probably either makes you think of manual work or Alan Sugar. Of course, Lord Sugar’s take on Apprenticeships is made for television audiences, designed to entertain it bears little in common with the apprenticeship experience. However, nor does the clichéd view of apprenticeships as only being for people who want to get into some sort of manual job.
Sure, there are plenty of very good manual apprenticeships which, like any other good apprenticeship offers training, relevant on-the-job work experience, a wage, and a recognised vocational qualification that will hold genuine weight with employers. But apprenticeships are much more than that, with opportunities opening up in a number of new areas. No longer is a university degree a necessity to get into law, for example, as there are apprenticeships that offer training and qualifications and relevant experience to counter the ‘cost and theory’ of the university route. It is all about options, and it makes perfect sense too. Why should certain career paths be tied to university education? Especially when a vocational route may work equally well, if not better, for some students?
However, it is not just a matter of increasing choice of openings for students looking at a vocational path. The government has made it clear that they are looking at the apprenticeship system as a serious option for school leavers, which has been highlighted by talk of new guidelines and standards for apprenticeship providers. There has been much talk of a focus on quality over quantity. What this should mean for students is a genuine choice which is separate yet equal to an academic route, with more improvements promised.
There is still plenty of work to be done, and sadly there are some apprentice openings out there that don’t seem to match the aspirations of those taking them, but things have been steadily improving. This has been noticed by employers, many of whom now see the apprenticeship system as the go-to way to find new young recruits. In return for offering training and investment these employers feel that having work-ready, experienced staff is worth the time and money.
For apprentices this means a greater chance of finding the job they trained for and increased earnings over their peers who didn’t take the apprenticeship route.
Sadly a great many parents, students, and even teachers hold out-dated views of the apprenticeship system, which means a potentially perfect option could be over-looked. With government promises that there will be an increased focus on quality apprenticeships in coming years, perhaps it is time to take a fresh look at the apprenticeship option. You might be pleasantly surprised!
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