Most schools and colleges act as though the only option post-school is university. And who can blame them? Apprenticeships are only for things like carpentry and hairdressing, right? Wrong.
Although degrees are extremely useful and respected by employers, something that is equally – if not more – important, is experience. With university + social life taking up most hours out of the week, a lot of university students don’t have time or energy for a job, therefore they leave uni at minimum age 21 with a degree but little/no experience. This often leads to them starting off at the bottom of the pile all over again. On top of this, they are left in thousands of pounds of debt from their student loans.
Now, this is not at all to put anyone off going to uni; it is a fantastic experience and extremely valuable, and necessary for certain careers. However, it is not for everyone, and it is certainly not the only way to get a qualification.
Apprenticeships have advanced a lot in recent years, with a lot of money now being put into them, and you can now get a degree from them – on top of the experience you get! And there are apprenticeships in almost every career out there: accounting, journalism, business, marketing, law, education etc.
In addition, as most apprenticeships are only a year long – unless you get offered a job at the end – you could still go to university afterwards. Apprenticeships are a good way of seeing if that career is right for you and getting experience which would look good on your personal statement, especially if you have never studied a subject close to the career you want to go in to (e.g. marketing, which you can’t study in school or college). Universities like to see that you have done something which shows you are passionate about the subject you will be studying. Moreover, for someone who is uncertain of the career they want to go into, the average £40,000 cost of 3 years of university (for tuition and maintenance fees combined) is an exorbitant amount of money; there is no point in spending that much money “just because”. Apprenticeships also suit people who prefer to learn by doing, rather than by theoretical learning.
And you get paid, instead of ending up in more debt! Granted, the minimum wage for apprenticeships is only £3.50 an hour for the first year, but they are also paying for your qualification, and some companies pay a fair bit more than the minimum. It’s also a good way to save up a bit before going to uni. You could earn up to £10,000 per year instead of spending £9000 a year on tuition.
How apprenticeships work:
Technically, in an apprenticeship you will have a job. You will have an interview and work for the company as any other employee. However, it is slightly different as on either 2 days a week, or in a block of a few weeks, you will go to a college or education centre to learn your qualification, which will link in with what you are doing at work. Your employer won’t expect you to know everything at first, but they are there to support you. According to QA Apprenticeships’ research, 94% of those who do apprenticeships though QA go on to have a full time job once the apprenticeship is finished, and 100% are satisfied with their job.
Whatever you choose to do post-college, it is important to know all of your options and not be rushed or pressured into a decision by family/friends/societal expectations.
Here is a link to the government website with a list of all possible apprenticeships at all different skill levels: https://www.findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsearch
Here are some apprenticeship providers:
QA Apprenticeships: http://apprenticeships.qa.com/
AIM Apprenticeships: http://www.aimapprenticeships.co.uk
Here is another good post on the topic:
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