There is still an awful lot about apprenticeships that’s misunderstood. Despite the awareness campaigns, there are still a great many people – many of whom are parents – who think of apprenticeships as being solely for traditional areas such as engineering and automotive trades.
The moment I really ‘got’ apprenticeships and their incredible value was at a conference a few years ago. In a panel session, a few young people were giving their views on their apprenticeships. One, let’s call her Chrissi, was typical 20 year old, and was just completing a finance-based apprenticeship, working at one of the big 5 Consultancies.
Her words were something like this:
“I recently met all my friends, who were about to complete their final year at Uni, for a drink. Comparing our experiences, we realised that for three years I had been earning a good wage, whilst they now had three years of accumulated student debt. They cycled to and from their rented digs, whilst I had my own car and was looking to buy a house.
They had great academic experience, but I’d gained three years of incredible work experience, being moved periodically between departments to gain a real understanding of the Consultancy and its customers. I had a mentor and was still engaged on a tremendous in-house training programme.
They were now looking for employment. Their CVs showed a degree, whilst mine showed my Apprenticeship plus three years of very high quality work experience with one of the country’s top companies. They were not sure what they wanted from their careers – I knew exactly what I wanted.
My friends said they felt they were literally three years behind me”.
Hearing Chrissi describe the apprenticeship experience, as experienced by the apprentice herself, really hammered home the fact that for certain individuals, apprenticeships represent an incredible opportunity and perhaps more parents and advisors need to appreciate what a good option they can be.