Deciding what to do after you collect your exam results is a very daunting task. The choice to go onto further study in sixth form or an FE college or gain on the job training through an apprenticeship takes a lot of contemplating.
If you're wanting to learn the skills and knowledge you need to thrive in a specific industry or job role, an apprenticeship could be the right avenue for you. The Source Academy’s Work Based Learning Manager, Andrew Womble, discusses what some of the key misconceptions of apprenticeships are.
Apprenticeships are for people who didn’t do well at school
There is a wrong misconception that apprenticeships are for learners who got average or below average results during their GCSEs or A Levels. Many of our apprenticeships are quite the opposite with them getting high grades at GCSE. Some of our apprenticeships complete their AS Levels before deciding that they do not want to go to university so decide to enrol on an apprenticeship so that they can continue their studies but also get experience and a wage from the workplace.
For those who do not do as well as expected, The Source can help with other employability courses – such as Traineeships - which help learners to get those vital skills they need to begin their career.
Apprenticeships aren’t seen as good qualifications
Apprenticeships have often been perceived as being a ‘low’ qualification, however this is not the case. Employers are more likely to employ someone who has studied an apprenticeship because they have experience of the workplace, as well as the technical skills and knowledge they have developed.
There is a range of qualifications available for apprenticeships, beginning at Intermediate Level 2 standards and rising to Degree Level programmes, so there is ample time for learners to progress to ensure they gain the qualifications they want.
The wage for an apprentice is low
The National Minimum Wage for apprentices is currently set at £3.40 per hour for 16-18 year olds and those over the age of 19 in the first year of their apprenticeship. This may seem low however it is worth bearing in mind that in other education pathways you would have to work outside your scheduled teaching hours to earn a wage while in an apprenticeship, you are being paid to learn.
Many employers choose to pay above this rate because they understand how much an apprentice can contribute to their business. It’s not unheard of for an apprentice to be given a pay rise for their contribution to the company.
Usually, after completing their course, apprentices progress onto a full wage for their role.
Apprentices are given the jobs no-one else wants to do
Another misconception we often hear about is that apprentices are often treated as the drinks makers and run arounds. When we think of apprentices, we tend to think about young people who have just left school and are in their first job. Naturally, these apprentices usually hold junior positions within a company and may undertake simple tasks at the beginning of their course. This is perfectly natural and allows employers to gage how much support they require. As they continue their apprenticeship, they begin to take on more responsibilities.
In 2016-17, the largest percentage of apprentices were over the age of 25 with many of these people being employed by a company for many years. In order to support their professional development, they may decide to study on an apprenticeship to help them gain the qualifications they need to progress within the company. They will continue in their role as normal but will work towards their assessment criteria to pass their apprenticeship.
Employers are required to offer 20% off-the-job training for apprentices to ensure they have the time to complete their course to the best of their ability. This is one of the new reforms the Government brought in to improve the standards of apprenticeships.
Apprentices don’t get full time jobs or progress in their career
Apprentices are very employable. Not only do they have the knowledge they need for the technical aspects of a role, they also have hands on experience which employers want to see on CVs.
Apprenticeships are all encompassing training courses. Not only does the employer have a huge part to play in supporting the apprentice gain the skills, behaviour and knowledge, they will also have a qualified work based tutor who will help shape the apprenticeship programme and be there to support if things don’t go so well. Apprenticeships really are the best of both worlds and it pays off for the majority for apprentices who find themselves progressing into new employment or further up the careers ladder.
Apprenticeships are just for manual jobs, not professional fields
Historically, apprenticeships were undertaken by those who wanted to learn a certain craft, such as carpentry or masonry. This is the view many still hold of apprenticeships. Today’s apprenticeship provision is very wide reaching with over 550 new apprenticeship standards registered on the Institute of Apprenticeships database. These new standards cover your engineering, construction and art based subjects but also cover new areas, such as management, accountancy and science related subjects.
At the Source, we have a number of professional service apprenticeships available from our Business Administration framework, to Marketing, to our Contact Centre Operations standard.
Apprenticeships are for non-academic people
The Government’s reforms of Apprenticeships in 2017 introduced a new dimension into how apprentices are assessed. While most apprentices will work towards building a portfolio of evidence, many of them will also have to take a knowledge-based examination at the end of their course. For standards relating to accountancy and other professional fields, apprentices may also undertake exams to gain professional qualifications they will need for their future career.
University graduates have more employment opportunities than apprentices
There are fantastic opportunities for apprenticeship schemes in large companies for higher level apprenticeship courses which are a great alternative to University Degrees. Many degrees are academically led and it is up to the individual to gain work experience as an extra-curricular activity. Some degrees offer a Year in Industry as one avenue of their courses and many universities have careers advice services to help students get work experience. However, there are costs involved in going to university with high tuition fees and living costs while undertaking work experience.
Any apprenticeship allows you to get in-depth experience within the work place while making the most of lessons and lectures as part of your training. You will also draw a wage for the role you are employed in and will not have to worry about student loans.