#NAW2018: An apprentice’s view – by Robyn Hodgson


We hear a lot from industry experts and politicians on the matter, but what have the apprentices got to say about apprenticeships? As part of our own spotlight on apprentices to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, we thought we’d cut straight to the chase and ask one of them ourselves what they thought of it all… and very interesting reading it makes too.

“As a year 12 student studying three of the most academically challenging A-Levels - English, Maths and History – the idea of taking up an apprenticeship seemed like a joke. I was fully prepared to apply for my top universities which I fantasised about religiously. Yet now I’ve almost come to the end of my last year and I have applied for a Human Resources apprenticeship with TfL… that I could not be more excited for.

“It is not only the distinct lack of debts that pushed me towards applying but also the experience that I can gain whilst learning on a job. Personally, I see them as an outstanding opportunity to develop new skills and enhance ones that I have already acquired from places of previous employment and education, whilst also securing an opportunity to gain full-time employment.

“My parents were completely supportive of this decision as they both agreed that it was better for me to learn on the job whilst getting paid and taking away a lot of the pressure that comes with exams. My dad would much prefer me to get an apprenticeship because he believes that companies prefer employees to be equipped with the abilities needed for the job rather than just a degree. The hamartia that comes with apprenticeships is the fact that they are only useful if you are sure on which career path you want to take (which can be quite a large problem because that apprenticeship can dictate what sort of job you can have for the rest of your life).

“It’s an understatement to say that in schools it is hard to get the information needed about apprenticeships. I turned to the internet to find which apprenticeships best-suited what I wanted to do. And it was not until I asked the school that I actually received the help that I felt I needed. My school has a careers advisor with many contacts to help students get apprenticeships but without being explicitly told that, a lot of students feel in the dark about which companies would be suited for them and how to go about the application process.

“My school has had apprenticeship speakers in from companies like HSBC and KPMG, but these were not compulsory and were not very well advertised around the school – meaning some people did not know about them. There is also a careers page on my school’s website that advertises apprenticeships and work placements, but we were never really informed about it.

“From the perspective of a student, it seems that schools are trying to push students away from apprenticeships and encouraging them to go to university. They made all of the students who knew they did not want to attend university complete a UCAS application almost in the hope that it would encourage them to change their mind. When talking to other students from both my own school and others local to me, the recurring pattern was that people thought that apprenticeships were a good idea as a way to immerse oneself in work. But, at the same time, they felt they had to go out of their way in order to find an apprenticeship that was best suited to them or one that they were interested in.

“It is important for school children to understand that there are more options out there than university. With greater promotion from not only schools but also government, it shows people that they can do more than just study for another four years. Through promotions on the television or encouraging schools to do more, the government could open up the world of work to the younger generations. Apprenticeships may not seem like that big of a deal, but I feel like the government should start to push them more (similar to the sudden growth in the promotion of BTECs and vocational courses), in order to give children more options and a choice in how they want to learn.”  

More National Apprenticeship Week stories:

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

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#NAW2018: An apprentice’s view – by Robyn Hodgson
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