Unfortunately, some of the negative assumptions about apprenticeships stem from older generations, parents and schools whose perceptions are based on the way that apprenticeships were in the past, before the National Apprenticeship Service was launched to support learners and help them to earn official qualifications.
Law has traditionally been seen as a career path only accessible via the conventional University route, but that is changing. In 2013 one of the most exciting and dynamic changes for our business wasn't just a merger or new senior management but a new approach to recruitment with the appointment of the first Level 4 Legal Apprentice in the UK.
Getting good apprentices was becoming a challenge for Nissan (NMUK). In a fast-growing manufacturing environment, we needed to make sure that we could access the best there was - young people who would learn while contributing to our growth and development, and who would be part of the company going forward.
Having been an apprentice, I am now very aware that there are a considerable amount of people out there with a negative view of Apprenticeships - whether that is through a bad experience or through just hearing the ever-changing Chinese whispers that get thrown around regarding Apprenticeships. Trust me, the Apprenticeship experience is simply only a positive one.
Apprenticeships are not just about the education you receive via a training organisation, or the work experience through your job, but also about developing life skills. Being involved in community projects is a great way to develop these life skills and that is why we are highlighting this to the Deputy Prime Minister.
Last week, I completed my job swap with the Skills Minister, Matthew Hancock MP, by showing him where I work at our BAE Systems Military Air & Information site at Warton in Lancashire. I took him on the journey of life as an apprentice, showing him where I began, the skills I learnt and where I completed, three and a half years later...
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?
I am such a massive convert to the business value in Apprenticeships - I just want to shout about it and make more businesses realise the opportunity and see more young people realising their potential. It seems that finally more people are cottoning on to the value of being an apprentice, but we just need more businesses to take it on.
When I left school, I was doing well academically with B's and C's in all my GCSEs and so I followed everyone else and went to study full time in college. However, after a few months into my BTEC and A-levels I decided full time studying wasn't for me, as I am such a hands on learner I found it difficult to learn in a classroom environment.
Little did I realise when I took on the National Apprentice Champion role that I would be getting up at five in the morning to be at Billingsgate fish market to have a master class in how to fillet fish with current apprentices. This was just the start of my very exciting day, swapping jobs with Skills Minister, Matthew Hancock MP. A very different but varied day for me...
The gauntlet has been thrown down to businesses, training providers and colleges to compete for the title of apprentice team of 2013 which opens for nominations this week.