When we asked Year 12 and 13 students if they would consider doing an apprenticeship which also gave them the chance to study for a degree, half said yes.
Yet although higher and degree apprenticeships are now widely available, only 16% were going on to do an apprenticeship after their A-levels. And although the majority knew about higher and degree apprenticeships, four out of 10 said they didn't know what they were or weren't sure.
We asked Tiana Locker, Youth Engagement Officer for City & Guilds and a former apprentice herself, to share some of the most important things that students and teachers should know about apprenticeships. Tiana also runs Apprentice Connect, an exciting programme that sends apprentices into schools to talk to students about their jobs and training.
Whether you're a student, a teacher, a careers advisor or a parent, here are 7 things you really need to know about apprenticeships...
1. We can learn a lot about apprenticeships from other apprentices
Tiana says: “With some of the schools I’ve visited, I’ve found that although teachers and careers advisors know about apprenticeships, they might not talk about them because they’re not confident that they have enough knowledge to speak about them in depth and give the right advice.”
She says that schools appreciate it when apprentices visit “who understand how it all works and can talk about their experiences directly...
With Apprentice connect we train up apprentices to deliver a one hour talk on apprenticeships as well as go through a practical activity like making an application. We also keep in touch on social media and allow students to contact us if they have more questions”.
2. Apprenticeships are for everyone - and they can change your life!
Apprenticeships aren’t for a particular type of person. Even if uni is on the cards, they could still be right for you.
Tiana says “I took A-levels at college, but after my first year I knew I didn’t want to go to university. My sister said I should look into an apprenticeship as an opportunity to start my career. I said no initially as I thought they were only for people who can’t go to university. Eventually I did apply through the National Apprenticeship Service. A training provider contacted me and did a screening session and they really supported me to find the vacancy at City & Guilds, which has changed my life"!
3. You can find apprenticeships in almost every career area
“A common mistake people make is to think that apprenticeships are only available in limited industries. People are aware of the traditional ones like construction, hair & beauty and plumbing. But actually there are so many different industries to choose from. You could go into law, into social media. I did a level three apprenticeship in Business Administration and was even able to create my own role at Apprentice Connect".
Check out this list of 5 cool degree apprenticeships you could start this year.
4. Apprenticeships are a real alternative to university
“You can do apprenticeships at different levels (intermediate, advanced and higher). I think this is really important to know, because if someone was keen to go to university but thought it wasn’t right for them, they could get a similar qualification through a higher apprenticeship for example. That’s one thing that would have swayed me (if I’d known at school) because I thought I was capable of going to uni, it just wasn’t right for me.
One of the most common questions I get is: ‘is an apprenticeship better than university’? Honestly it really depends on what you feel is best for you and what your long-term goals are. I wouldn’t say either is better but you can definitely consider both as an option".
Take a look at this video for some quick advice on whether an apprenticeship or uni is the right option for you:
5. Apprenticeships can pay well
“In all my sessions with students I make them aware that the average wage for an apprentice is £170 per week (around £9,000 per year), so they could be earning instead of getting into debt.
From my own experience, my apprenticeship was well paid and I was even able to save some money while I did it".
Take a gander at this article on the apprenticeships wage.
6. Employers like apprenticeships
Tiana says: “loads of big employers now recognise apprenticeships as being a really key stepping stone into a career”.
It’s true that lots of companies from the Beeb to Barclays now offer apprenticeship and traineeship programmes for young people, so if you like the look of a career, you should check and see what companies in that area offer apprenticeships and the kinds of roles they can lead to.
Here are some stats about apprenticeships:
7. Careers advisors can help you track down the right apprenticeship
“Training providers are really great when you want to search and apply for vacancies. Although I did start applying for apprenticeships online initially, for all my other applications I got lots of support from my training provider”.
You can find a training provider or advisor through the National Apprenticeships Service or call them on 08000 150 600.