We are just a few days away from A Level results and a week away from GCSE results. For anyone thinking about what to do next we thought it might be helpful to give you 10 great reasons to be an apprentice.
10 reasons to be an apprentice
Apprenticeships offer school or college leavers the opportunity to learn new skills and be trained in the career of their choice. For many school leavers apprenticeships are a natural route to follow. For others, it may not be something they have previously thought of and for many business, it may not have been a consideration to hire an apprentice. We thought it might be useful to give our 10 reasons why apprenticeships are great for school leavers and businesses.
- Earn while you learn
Yes really. Apprentices get paid and learn the skills needed to be successful in their career choice. Apprentices earn a wage alongside their colleagues in a business. Apprenticeship salaries tend to range from between £120 – £200 per week and often businesses will support them with transport costs.
Apprentices do a real job and while they are working, will gain skills and knowledge to be successful. Some apprenticeship programmes involve going to college one day per week but this tends to be for the more technical subjects such as engineering and motor vehicle. For many apprenticeships learning on the job is backed up by online learning, work places visits from an assessor and coaching / mentoring.
Apprenticeships must last a minimum of 12 months and some, again the more technical, will take 1 to 3 years to complete.
As an apprentice’s skills develop they become more value to the business and employers will often reward them with increases in pay and responsibility.
- Avoid the debt!
Can we believe that it was only 20 years ago that student fees were paid for by the government and that thousands of students actually got grants to cover their living expenses! It’s very different now with students having to pay back up to £66,000 for their 3 years at university (http://www.bbc.com/news/education-26954901). Worth it? For some yes but for many others no. Many degree courses are coming under scrutiny for their quality and value for money.
An apprentice on the other hand will be working, earning and will not have a student loan hanging over them as they start to make a mark in their career.
- Real skills in a real job
Apprenticeships have been designed to provide the right skills for any individual in any career. There are hundreds of different types for apprenticeships to choose from. (http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/types-of-apprenticeships.aspx)
More and more employers are looking to hire an apprentice as they can quickly get them to a skill level that makes them productive. Many of these employers complain that they are just not getting university graduates with the right skills and would prefer to train a 16-18 year old that has a passion for their career. Businesses such as web design agencies often tell us that a computer science graduate knows everything about computer science but they don’t have a clue about creating a website and expect top dollar salaries because they are graduates.
- Advice, guidance and mentoring
Apprentices are guided and mentored throughout their programme. In their job, they will often work with a supervisor or manager and will gain skills quickly. Their training provider will also support them with their learning and provide guidance & advice.
All training providers, the people actually delivering the apprentice, need to be in constant contact with the apprentices. This should be either face to face, telephone, email or online meetings.
- On the job learning
What better way to learn new skills and knowledge than by doing it and getting paid at the same time. On the job learning is what happens in the workplace, (the skills and competence element). It’s what the apprentice does on a day to day basis and what they learn from colleagues, supervisors and mentors.
Apprentices will work towards a number of different qualifications that make up their “Apprenticeship Framework”. One of the qualifications will involve the apprentice creating a portfolio of evidence that demonstrates that they have the skills and competence to do their job.
- Off the job learning
Some apprenticeships, as we have already discussed, require the apprentice to attend college for one day a week. This tends to be the more technical programmes that need specialist training. For many apprentices off the job training (the knowledge element) is now done online and employers tend to allow them a few hours per week at work to access their learning materials and assignments.
Apprenticeships also make sure that the individual has the right level of Maths and English. If they don’t hold a GCSE grade C or above then there is also a requirement to do Functional skills with either or both of these subjects.
- Accredited qualifications
Apprenticeships are funded by the Government and therefore all of the qualifications need to be accredited and nationally recognised.
Training providers have to work with awarding bodies such as City & Guilds, Edexcel or OCR,
The apprentice has to work to a number of qualifications that will be issued by an awarding body.
The great thing about these qualifications is that they are nationally recognised (some are internationally recognised) and employers understand what these qualifications are so they are transferable if the apprentice ever decides to leave their employer for a new job.
- Moving to higher levels
Apprentices are not restricted to one level of apprenticeship. They have the ability to advance through different levels with a level 5 apprenticeship being the equivalent of a university degree.
Many apprentices will start as either an Apprentice (Level 2) or Advanced Apprentice (Level 3) but can then progress to Higher Level Apprentice (Level 4) and beyond.
- No cost – really, it’s free!
Apprenticeships are free for 16-18 year old apprentices. There is no cost to the individual and no cost to the business.
There is also a £1500 grant available for businesses to hire an apprentice.
- The perfect match
Employers like apprentices as they have a young, ambitious and eager trainee that wants to do well at work and learn the skills and knowledge to be successful.
Apprentices get to learn, earn and embark on their chosen career without facing years of paying back debt like their friends that have gone to university.
Surely, the perfect match!