The government intends to create 3 million additional apprenticeships by 2020, giving more people the opportunity to pursue work-based learning.
Many still believe that apprenticeships are only suitable for those young people who wish to pursue careers in traditional trades, such as hairdressers, nursery workers or in the construction industry. Apprenticeships undoubtedly remain a very good option for people pursuing these careers, but they are also a suitable entry route for a wide range of other careers. Some of the more unusual apprenticeships that can be found are offered in crime scene photography, play work, diamond mounting, fish husbandry and pathology support. Young people can access specialist and relevant qualifications alongside work-based learning with experienced workers in these fields.
Many apprenticeships are offered at level 2 (intermediate) and level 3 (advanced), with most post 16 school leavers commencing on these levels of apprenticeships. However, it is important to remember that apprenticeships are also offered at higher levels within some industries and are, arguably, rapidly becoming a viable alternative to a traditional university education. The Civil Service, for example, now offers level 4 apprenticeships and this year intends to recruit 750 people into these roles. The Times recently published a ‘Guide to Elite Apprenticeships’ and included a list of employers offering these ever-popular higher level apprenticeships. The list includes financial organisations, the armed forces, retailers and engineering companies. With this in mind, we need to move away from the idea that apprenticeships provide young people with limited opportunities and instead acknowledge that for some students they are a very suitable option.
So how can we best support young people with searching for an apprenticeship? Students need a good understanding of what an apprenticeship is and should be able to consider whether it is an appropriate option for them. There are obviously still many careers that require a more academic route, such as Medicine. Students need information, advice and guidance on the best ways to secure an apprenticeship and how to make successful applications in a competitive job market. They will, of course, be judged on the strength of their application so it is essential to get this right. An integral part of this process is being able to identify the skills required by the employer and ensure the application adequately reflects these. If students are successful and get to the all-important interview stage they need to convey their interest and enthusiasm and should feel comfortable talking about why they have applied for that specific apprenticeship and what they hope to gain from it.
With the high possibility of many more apprenticeships on the horizon we should ensure our students have access to the information they need and that opportunities are created in school to allow them to weigh up the pros and cons of this option to them as individuals, alongside other routes such as university. By encouraging our young people to open their minds to the range of opportunities available and giving them the skills and confidence to pursue them, we will be ensuring that we have done our part in setting up our students for every success on their future career path.
Where to Get Careers Advice
CXK provides confidential and impartial careers information, advice and guidance to help you make decisions on learning, training and work opportunities. If you’re a young person looking for support, or a parent looking for careers advice for your young person, visit our Careers Advice for Young People page.
The National Careers Service provides free, up to date, impartial information, advice and guidance on careers, skills and the labour market in England to anyone aged 13 and upwards.
To speak to a National Careers Service adviser, call 0800 100 900 or use our webchat (8am to 10pm, 7 days a week)