29/11/2012 06:12 GMT | Updated 28/01/2013 05:12 GMT

Why Doing an Apprenticeship was the Best Decision I Ever Made

Entrepreneur Doug Richard released the Richard Review yesterday, a report into apprenticeships that argues they should last at least a year and really train the apprentice for a particular role.

Interestingly, the review addresses the way that apprenticeships are viewed by the outside world.

Often, the media and others talk about apprenticeships as if they are less valuable or "easier" than a degree course. Doug Richard argues that apprenticeships should be seen as equal to degrees and I think this is important.

My own experience is that an apprenticeship can really make a difference in your life and I am certain that this was the right route for me.

I started my apprenticeship in 2011 and have since been working towards a Level 3 NVQ in Business and Administration at Lewisham College incorporating Southwark College.

I had been working on and off since I was 17. I decided to put myself forward for this apprenticeship as I knew that it would provide me with the skills that were preventing me from getting a full time job.

My role as an administrative assistant, working as part of the team in the principal's office, allows me to shadow those in a full time role, get trained and learn on the job.

On a day to day basis I can be doing anything from dealing with emails and phone calls, setting up meetings, taking minutes, creating documents and databases and updating the staff intranet site. I also spend a lot of time dealing directly with students.

This experience of working in an office environment is one that most people who attend University do not get. It is not all about sitting in a lecture theatre hearing someone talk about business - it's about serious hands on experience!

The apprenticeship has allowed me to gain this practical experience where a business management degree may only have provided background theory.

This practical experience of work and the working environment is really important and is one of the main reasons that I would recommend an apprenticeship to others.

Lewisham College is part of the Gazelle Group, so there is a real entrepreneurial spirit and all the apprentices are part of this. In practice this means that I have the opportunity to gain some real knowledge and experience of the commercial world. This also means we have the chance to meet high profile entrepreneurs and local business people which helps you to understand what it means to run a business or organisation.

On completion of my apprenticeship I will be looking for a full time job, but my real ambition is to start a business of my own further down the line.

Doing this apprenticeship is the best decision I ever made. I have learned a lot and feel extremely well prepared for any job I wish to do in the future. I have discovered what my strengths are and learned to use them to my full advantage.