Vocational training, including apprenticeships, have undergone a real change over recent years. This has led to a broadening of the options and industries available to those wanting to take this route into a career. The old notion that apprenticeships were just for those wishing to do some form of manual work or get into a trade is out-dated, but is there anything wrong with deciding to take up a trade?
A focus on academic achievement, including going on to take A levels, has seen successive generations believe that this route is preferable to any other. By extension, there is a belief among some people that doing a trade is somehow only for those who are not good or smart enough to go to university. However, it is not about being ‘clever’ but about finding a career that you would like to do – something that suits you, your skills, and your aspirations.
So why choose a trade?
At the simplest level, trades offer you the skills to do jobs that need to be done - whether that is constructing new builds, sorting out plumbing, fixing a car, or installing electrics. These skills are in demand and, in some areas, a lack of skilled employees mean that your chances of landing a great job once you qualify are greatly increased. With all of the talk of a skills gap, why not consider training for a job that will fill the hole? It makes sense to get the right skills for the jobs and careers of the future.
That said, there is no point training for a career that you don’t want to do, but there are a number of different roles within each trade. Logistics, design, and management, for example, are all important parts of industries such as engineering too. Plus, these skills are transferable, meaning that you can take your in-demand skills with you to a different employer.
Taking an academic route doesn’t necessarily mark you out as brighter than a tradesperson. I have met plenty of academically-minded people who struggled to even bleed a radiator and, let’s be honest, anyone who has had a burst pipe or other emergency in the home will understand quite how important tradespeople can suddenly become! Being ‘career smart’ and being ‘school smart’ are two different things – and one doesn’t automatically equal the other!
With that in mind, a trade might not just offer you a chance to earn a wage, but it can also save you some money too. Rather than paying for someone else to come in and do a job, surely it is better to be able to do it yourself – properly?
Have a look at the range of apprenticeships available in the trades and see if there is something to suit you. An apprenticeship will offer you the start you need to get some experience and gain training in the skills you need, all while you earn a wage. Whether you decide to look to train with a large or a smaller business is up to you – but business is certainly another great side to learning a trade.
Ask any tradesman who has set up in business for themselves. As well as learning and being able to do the trade itself, this route can lead to you employing and training others and really becoming your own boss.
If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, a trade can offer you a great career for life – don’t write it off as somehow ‘lesser’ than academia – it’s just different.