The annual National Apprenticeship Week has been running for 11 years to raise awareness and educate about these opportunities. Yet many people still perceive apprenticeships as something for those interested in working in manual jobs only. This is not the case.
Many different industries now offer apprenticeships, including industries as diverse as pharmacy, surveying and digital marketing.
It is a common misconception that apprenticeships are only geared towards school leavers, low-performing students or young people. They are suitable for all age groups and are becoming a popular option for high-performing students and adults who want to change careers or retrain.
Although apprenticeships are increasing in popularity across the board, many people still perceive them as for potential tradespeople only or they are not aware of the advantages that apprenticeships provide.
It would be extremely beneficial to educate students and school leavers regarding the options and advantages available to them in terms of apprenticeships. Advantages include gaining invaluable practical experience, seeing first-hand how businesses function day-to-day, and learning key skills and competencies. The apprenticeship is often well-remunerated with additional benefits, such as paid holiday entitlement.
Secondary schools and further education colleges often prioritise university over other options for those leaving school or college. These institutions could work to be more balanced and promote equal awareness regarding apprenticeships, advising students that university does not have to be the natural next step after school or college.
Students need to be aware that apprenticeships are available across a wide spectrum of industries. University fees are expensive, so considering an apprenticeship could be a useful option for many students who had not previously thought about it.
Work also needs to be done to change perceptions of apprenticeships. A survey conducted by Investors in People, looking at parents and also young people from 16-23, found that over half the parents interviewed saw apprenticeships solely as a route for trades work, but less than half of the young people were in agreement.
Certain university subjects are available through apprenticeships and students are able to take various degree-level apprenticeships such as Degree or Higher, which are on a par with Foundation, Bachelor’s and also Master’s degrees.
The benefits of apprenticeships are not just limited to students or school-leavers. They can benefit those outside of education and should be promoted to employees. It should be clarified to all that there is no age stipulation or demographic for apprenticeships.
A high percentage of workers have made the decision to apply for apprenticeships to add to their skillset or change career path.
There is an apprenticeship levy available which has the scope for businesses to provide training to their employees and take on new apprentices, yet many businesses do not use it, despite having access to the funds.
In fact, 69% of current managers said that they would welcome having an apprentice working in the leadership and management team.
It seems that both the supply and demand is there, what is lacking is promotion and communication. If people were aware of the opportunities, more would take them. The onus for this lies in educational institutions and businesses. Surely then future generations would reap the benefits.
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