Ten years on from leaving school choosing an Apprenticeship was the best and most important decision I made. In addition to "earn while you learn" benefits, Apprenticeships deliver true life skills like no other programme and develop you as a person. For employers who wouldn't want passionate, determined, dynamic, creative, energetic people in their organisation?
In order to address the well-publicised skills gap, we need to be training and nurturing the next generation of skilled people. Organisations need to take responsibility for safeguarding the future; they need to take action now to ensure long term sustainability. At Superior Seals we are training for the future, we believe in "growing our own timber" and our Apprenticeship scheme has had a hugely positive impact on the company. With apprentices working in all different departments ranging from design, laboratory, maintenance, quality and manufacturing our owner believes apprentices could be the future leaders of the company.
As an apprentice you start right at the bottom but that's so important, as you progress through an organisation you gain respect and an appreciation at all levels; I don't believe you can't get that from university. With that experience when operating at a higher level you can understand what effect decisions may have and take appropriate action.
Employers don't realise how capable apprentices really are or what they can achieve. Some organisations have a poor perception of apprentices, believing them to be low achievers and lower quality applicants but that couldn't be any further from reality. Nowadays apprentices are motivated and keen to learn, we need to give them a foot in the door, and provide opportunities, because in our experience they have grabbed them with both hands. We have a second year apprentice working in our Tool Room here at Superior Seals; at a young age he's already working on high profile customer tooling and suggested the investment of a new machine; he's now been trained on that machine and it's providing a new level of capability for our customers. Apprenticeships have modernised over the last few years and now have an extremely wide range of frameworks; it's a really exciting time for both employers and young people. When considering taking on an apprentice or starting a scheme talk to other companies that are already doing it, visit them, see the benefits for yourself.
For me one of the most frustrating comments about Apprenticeships is "apprenticeships are for those who are not intelligent enough" and I always respond in the same way; "if you go to university you come out with a lot of debt, no workplace experience and no guaranteed job, if you do an Apprenticeship you can earn money, gain invaluable experience and achieve the same qualifications which your employer pays for", surely its a more cost effective route to a degree qualification with many added benefits.
I'm a firm believer that Apprenticeships are a great platform to build a career on; "Apprentices Mean Business" www.apprenticesmeanbusiness.com was launched in Dorset to increase the awareness, inspire young people and to demonstrate to employers actually how great apprentices are. There's no better way to convince young people and employers by current apprentices speaking about their experiences, we hope this will lead to more career opportunities in the area.