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Apprenticeships: Are They Right For You?

Published: Monday 3rd February 2020

If you are looking to learn more on apprenticeships, you’re unsure what apprenticeships to apply for or wondering if an apprenticeship is right for you, here is some information to gain useful insight and get the facts you need.

National Apprenticeship Week is a flagship moment in the calendar year for supporters and ambassadors of apprenticeships, aiming to offer a recognised set of qualifications through practical on and off the job training. Celebrating its 13th annual anniversary, National Apprenticeship Week’s 2020 theme, is all about consistently conveying the message of “looking beyond” traditional forms of training and education.

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Apprenticeships are on the rise

Apprenticeships have become increasingly more popular and successful in the last few years. In fact, vacancies have increased by 15% over the last year, while applications by almost a third. So, why are so many people in the UK turning to apprenticeships over more traditional career paths?

How apprenticeships work

Apprenticeships give you the opportunity to do a real job while studying for a formal qualification, usually for one day a week either at a college or training centre. By the end of each apprenticeship, candidates are meant to have gained the skills and knowledge to either succeed in their chosen career or progress onto the next apprenticeship level.

The skills and qualifications acquired will depend and vary on the role candidates are receiving training on. However, apprentices follow an approved study programme, meaning you’ll gain a nationally recognised qualification at the end of it. Apprenticeship qualifications can include functional skills (GCSE level qualifications in English, maths and IT), National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) or even technical certificates – such as BTEC or even academic qualifications.

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You’ll also be constantly developing your transferable skills, known as soft skills, which are highly valued by employers. These include communication, teamwork, problem solving and knowledge of IT.

Types of apprenticeships

There are four different types of apprenticeships based on the levels starting from intermediate (equivalent to five good GCSE passes) to the Degree level which is comparable to a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. The structures vary across different organisations and industries but there’s a whole bunch of different types of apprenticeships across numerous sectors.

In addition, it is important to remember, that apprenticeships are neither just for those starting their career or for people of of a certain age group and class. In the past apprenticeships were associated with gender stereotypes and false perceptions, however, this perception is gradually changing. Although most of the apprentices in the UK are between the age of 16-24, this doesn’t mean employers and providers aren’t looking to take on and train people of all ages and careers/life stages.

The pros…

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Apprenticeships offer a structured training programme, while giving you the chance to work your way towards your qualification. Compared to a university degree, that could be more theoretical, apprenticeships help you gain the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in your chosen industry.

Getting into employment earlier means there’s lots of potential for a faster career development progression. In doing so, you can also start earning a good salary much earlier on in your life.

Apprenticeships give you fantastic experience in the working world and show employers that you already have the confidence needed in order to make it in the working environment.

Moreover, the education costs are significantly lower as you earn while you learn, and you can save from student loans or tuition fees. Finally, the big plus of deciding to go for an apprenticeship is that there are over 400 different types. So, no matter whether you’re after a career in business, sport, marketing or construction, there’s something for everyone.

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…and the cons of apprenticeships

In an apprenticeship your starting salary might be much lower than that of a graduate. The minimum wage for apprentices is only £3.90 per hour.

In addition, certain careers and professions may require an undergraduate degree, particularly in areas such as medicine and science. Since having an undergraduate degree can be an essential requirement for certain jobs, you have to make sure you do your research before making any final decisions.

If you do want to gain a higher qualification through an apprenticeship, it will take much longer and the range of courses you’ll be able to study might be more limited. Finally, due to the rapid demand increase over the past few years, apprenticeships are competitive and it may seem harder to get accepted due to the large amount of candidates applying to each role.

Apprenticeships may not work for everyone, just like higher education won’t. However, it is important to make an educated decision based on the best route in order to accomplish your career goals. If you are looking for an apprenticeship, visit Zoek today and search over hundreds of opportunities alongside top employers in various sectors.

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