For many of us, university is the only thought process we have. However, alongside a continuous rise in tuition fees, many students are turning their back on further education. Applications for new starters in Autumn 2018 was down by 11,000 on the previous year, according to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
One alternative to higher education is an apprenticeship scheme. The government plans to create three million apprenticeships by 2020 and create a simplified way into the workforce. This follows the fact that 277,800 people completed an apprenticeship in England in 2016/17 — the highest number since records began in 2002.
But, why do people choose an apprenticeship? Here, we look at some of the key industries that are thriving and why they are becoming a breeding ground for new and innovative talent.
Technological advances are changing the world we live in, and this includes our job opportunities. Digital can cover a range of industries, meaning that there is plenty scope to become an apprentice and hone your skills into a trade which is blossoming.
From data analysis to web development and content writing, digital agencies offer apprentices a wide range of opportunity. Georgie White recently finished a 12-month Level 3 Digital Marketing apprenticeship as a copywriter at Mediaworks. He said: “From such a young age, I was told the only route to success was by going to university — but I like to challenge convention and make my own life decisions. Before scouting an apprenticeship, I fully intended on going to university to study journalism, as added pressure from my teachers suggested that this would be the best way to secure a 'career' and not just a 'job'. They couldn't have been more wrong.
“Throughout my apprenticeship, I've been able to work on incredible campaigns and write creatively to boost brand awareness and improve a business' overall SEO strategy. As a result, I've been able to see my own original work get placed on international, national and regional publications. I now remind myself that you can't sit still in a sector that's constantly moving forward, and that's what I would have done at university.”
Business, Administration and Law saw 138,000 people start an apprenticeship in 2016/17. Although this sector saw a decline in participants in this period, it had previously been the most common subject area for apprenticeship starts.
Hannah Mumford completed a Level 3 Business Admin apprenticeship for a training provider in their marketing department and feels it has boosted her career prospects. She said: “I think it was beneficial as I’ve gained four yeas of work experience and still work within marketing. I’ve worked in a few sectors [because of it], including martial arts and shipping!”
The motor industry also offers a range of apprenticeships programmes. It was announced last year that the new Nissan Qashqai was set to be produced at Nissan’s Sunderland factory, which is the UK’s largest car plant ever. While this is thought to bring more jobs into the factory, it will likely include apprenticeships.
The Nissan apprenticeship scheme can really be a career choice. Karen Saxelby, manager at the factory, started as a Trainee Administration Assistant and completed her two-year-long apprenticeship. Within six years, and several promotions later, she reached her current position. She told the company’s career site: “Throughout my career, NMUK have allowed me to grow and develop tremendously. If you put the hard work in and have a drive to succeed, then you will – and that’s what NMUK like to see in potential candidates.
Lookers also have a range of apprenticeship jobs across their dealerships which offer on-the-job training and the chance to earn while you learn. Whether you’re in the main office or a sales apprentice at one of their dealerships across the country, the company offers you the chance to learn at your own pace while receiving mentored support.
Amy Stone, who completed her technician’s apprenticeship with the company, believes the scheme was very beneficial to her career: “When meeting up with the careers adviser at school, I found it difficult to uncover my passion for a particular job,” she said.
“It was when I got chatting to a master technician, a lady on one of the stands at my school careers fair, that the penny dropped for me about applying for an apprenticeship in the motor trade. The former technician had studied mechanical engineering and hearing about her training, journey and the skills she had gained along the way gave me a real boost. [At Lookers] I like the fact we can build bonds with people within our own dealership, and across others.”
The hands-on approach of apprenticeships can be advantageous to both the learner and the company. This is clear in manufacturing — a sector that contributes £6.7 trillion to the global economy.
Nathan Hunter said: “I went from Sixth Form to an engineering technical apprenticeship and it’s given me a better understanding of the industry and experience that’s vital to my career. It’s opened doors that a degree just wouldn’t at my age and I would definitely say for people to look into it more than just going to university.”
It’s noticeable that apprenticeships offer a set way into your chosen industry. They can provide real-world experience to allow you to hit the ground running and improve your CV in a profession without having the cost that going to university incurs.