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National Apprenticeship Week 2019

The apprenticeship revolution. Are you ready?


David Allison

CEO of GetMyFirstJob.co.uk and TheTalentPeople.co.uk

There has been a revolution in the world of apprenticeships. Almost every part of the system is unrecognisable from two years ago, but that means there’s a lot for young people, schools and parents to understand when they are considering career choices.  These changes are unfortunately not always widely or accurately understood. In fact, up to 54% of parents say they don’t understand career options, but they are the most influential group (79%) when young people are making their choices.

What has Changed?

Although many of the changes are relatively obscure in terms of education policy, the impact is massive. In essence, there has been a huge move to achieve parity between full time University programmes with the Apprenticeship equivalents. In fact, many (including me) would argue that a degree apprenticeship that provides you with a University degree and real-world experience – not just ‘work experience’ – is far more valuable than a full time programme. Even more so when you consider there’s no student debt associated with it.

So it’s just about degrees then?

Absolutely not. In the last couple of years, a wide range of professional bodies have also entered the apprenticeship space. In many professions, it is these professional bodies that are more important to your career than where your qualifications were gained. Institutions such as AAT or CILEx all play an important role in providing the qualifications that allow individuals to forge a career in areas such as accountancy or law.

Is it easy to get in?

No. Some of the best apprenticeship programmes are far more competitive than their full time degree equivalents. Anyone who thinks that apprenticeships are there as a fall back for people that don’t quite get the grades they were hoping for is in for a very big shock. Some of the highest profile companies operate ahead of the UCAS application process which schools are so used to dealing with. Application deadlines with assessment centres and interviews for the best roles will all have been done and dusted by Easter most years.

So what should I do?

The main thing is to recognise that it takes time to understand the range of options out there, and then to understand how to apply. We’ve just launched a new career quiz at www.getmyfirstjob.co.uk – to help young people think about the careers options open to them. Having established which careers are of interest, it’s then important to understand which employers are recruiting in your preferred sectors. The National Apprenticeship Service has a good website, or by registering with GetMyFirstJob we can also send out notifications to help make sure you don’t miss that once in a lifetime opportunity. At the end of the day, don’t forget that an apprenticeship is a job with training. Make sure that the employer is one that you want to work for, and the training is good. Don’t be afraid to talk to existing apprentices to get their advice.

Apprenticeships offer an amazing route into many thousands of interesting careers. Understanding these options takes time, but it’s time that’s well worth investing.

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