For most young people the decision as to what to do after school or college boils down to two things – whether to continue with studying or to get a job and start work. For some the thought of getting a job can seem daunting – finally stepping out into the ‘real’ world, while for others the chance to finally get out there and earn some money is all the encouragement they need. However, whether you choose to keep studying or find work the destination is ultimately the same – the world of work. However, the choice needn’t be so stark, as an apprenticeship offers a tailored route into work as well as a qualification and more. So why might you consider taking an apprenticeship?
Money, cash, dough, P – call it what you want, but it is one thing that we all would be happy to have more of. Even those who choose to go to university tend to do so as they believe it will offer them better prospects (more money!). There is no doubt that wages are an important factor and an apprenticeship offers you a chance to earn while you learn. Sure, the wages may not be as high as those you can command once qualified, but they are better than nothing (or alternatively paying out for tuition).
- Training & Qualifications
An apprenticeship is all about training. Whereas university asks you to pay for this in the form of tuition fees, the cost of your training is paid for you with an apprenticeship. This serves to counter the fact that your wages may be lower as an apprentice, but it is the training that is key to an apprenticeship. Rather than finding yourself thrust out into the working world, an apprenticeship offers a structured route into work as you learn the skills you need and gain a qualification to prove it too.
- Get Some Experience
As you train on your apprenticeship you will also be working and gaining some valuable experience. Many people prefer to learn on the job (rather than just hearing theory in a classroom), so getting involved is often part of the pull of an apprenticeship. Gaining real work experience isn’t just about learning the ropes for the career you are heading towards but also allows you to pick up the soft skills that many employers want. Learning communication, confidence, and other general skills is a part of the process and will set you up to get straight down to work once you qualify.
- No Debt
While earning a wage is part of the benefit of an apprenticeship, the flip side is that there is also no need to build up thousands of pounds worth of debt. Let’s face it, university is expensive these days – with tuition fees and living costs to consider – you have to really think whether it is worth it. We have sort of normalised the fact that young people are graduating tens of thousands in the red, but the more money-minded may feel that starting your working life owing several years’ worth of wages is not the best start to your career.
- Career Goals
But surely higher education is the key to a better career? This was certainly the case, but is less so these days. As employers see the benefits of hiring apprentices (getting to train new employees from the start, for one), and with the apprenticeship levy causing many businesses to start looking at how they can turn this investment into staff, apprenticeships are big news for business. This means that a lot of careers that were previously difficult or impossible to access without a degree are now available as apprenticeships. So, rather than spending three years (and lots of money) studying, why not get straight down to work as an apprentice, earning a salary, getting experience, and gaining your qualification that way? Basically speaking, you may be surprised at the range of apprenticeships that are available these days, and it is worth at least having a look!
Qualifications, wages, and experience aside, an apprenticeship also has another great benefit – the chance to meet people. Getting involved in your chosen industry or career from day one offers you the chance to start making contacts in your chosen profession. Rather than having to seek these people out, they are pretty much delivered to you every day at work. They say that who you know is as important as what you know, and making the right connections can be integral to getting yourself ahead in your career.
Apprenticeships are a genuinely viable alternative route into your career and are not, as some would presume, simply for those not smart enough for university. Indeed, with the financial, career, and experience factors taken into account, it could be argued that an apprenticeship is actually the smarter choice!