Apprenticeships are often perceived poorly in the UK and many people see them as suitable only for those who are less academically able.
This perception is incorrect and needs to be addressed.
Why should you consider doing an apprenticeship?
With the increase in tuition fees, apprenticeships are an attractive alternative to university. Not only will you have hands-on work experience learning on the job, you also won't be building up huge academic debt. Better yet, you will earn while you learn as your employer will pay you a salary.
An apprenticeship will give you first-hand knowledge of how the industry works in your chosen sector. There are many different types of apprenticeships, ranging from marketing, sales or accountancy, to construction, engineering and horseracing. So whichever sector you want to work in, there is likely to be an apprenticeship programme available.
The Government usually covers the cost of the training for most young people. This is a great way to continue learning at the same time as you are gaining valuable work experience with your employer. You won't have to wait until you finish your qualification to apply that knowledge in your day to day work, as with an apprenticeship you can combine both.
It is all about learning while doing and learning from your colleagues in the workplace. Furthermore, joining a company at an early stage as an apprentice can provide great opportunities for you to progress more quickly in your career and gain more confidence in a working environment.
In the last few years, employers have complained that they struggle to find people with the right skills. For this reason an increasing number of companies are embracing apprentices as they know that they already have experience of the workplace and have the skills to do the job.
By hiring apprentices, employers can train people early on so that they acquire the skills that they need, and there is a big demand for apprentices in high profile companies, such as Rolls Royce, as well as small and medium sized businesses across the UK.
There are some websites where you can ask for advice and help you get started. Two that I highly recommend are the National Apprenticeship Service and Gov.uk. On both websites you can find more information about the different levels of apprenticeships as well as companies that are currently recruiting apprentices.
Suzie Webb, Director of Education, AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians)
"I chose not to go to university and decided to do an apprenticeship instead"
Molly Kellet, 18, was not keen on the idea of going to university. She looked at other options and, like many students, she had the misconception that apprenticeships were not as good.
"I wanted to pursue a career in banking, so I asked my careers adviser which path should I follow and that's when they suggested I apply for an accountancy apprenticeship."
Shortly after, Kaplan was interested in interviewing Molly and she took the opportunity to find out more about apprenticeships. They told her about the accountancy scholarship. "I became very interested in this opportunity. When I heard that I had secured a place at Kaplan, I was extremely happy".
In a matter of weeks, Molly found a position working as a finance assistant at award-winning marketing agency Turn Key. She also continues to study AAT part-time with Kaplan. "I work alongside the head of finance. I am involved in all aspects of accountancy, such as sales ledger, invoicing, credit control and updating spreadsheets. My employer also encourages me to take time off for studying and exams."