From education to employment

Stephen Gardner, Director of Apprenticeships at the Learning and Skills Council wr

There are 930,000 young people currently awaiting their GCSE or A Level exam results in the UK, and if you”re one of them, then no doubt you are considering your next move. Are you looking for something challenging and rewarding? Are you looking for real-life work experience paired with a bank of transferable skills and qualifications, leading to a successful career? And most importantly, would you want to get paid for it?

If so, then an Apprenticeship could be for you.

What is an Apprenticeship and who does them?

An Apprenticeship is a combination of on and off the job training available to young people aged 16 ““ 24. The training offers a structured route to a successful career, with learning constantly monitored and performance checked regularly.

Apprentices work alongside experienced colleagues to gain job-specific skills. Off-the-job, usually on a day release basis, they receive training with a local college to gain all the skills needed to be successful in their chosen career.

What careers can I take up an Apprenticeship in?

There are over 200 different Apprenticeships in more than 80 different industry sectors – ranging from business and accounting to engineering and retail.

Lucy Wilkins, 24, a Business Administration apprentice from Somerset, says, “I really feel that an Apprenticeship is the best thing you can do. You are earning a wage and learning skills at the same time. To anyone else considering an Apprenticeship I”d say go for it!”

Have you ever considered how some of your heroes may have got to where they are today? A recent study by qualifications body, City & Guilds, shows that today’s apprentice is set to become tomorrow’s self-made millionaire. Some of the country’s most successful business people and celebrities such as Jamie Oliver, Karen Millen, Sir Alex Ferguson and Eric Clapton all began their careers as apprentices.

As well as gaining a nationally recognised qualification and transferable skills, Apprenticeships are a stepping stone to a great career, and provide a route to University. More and more apprentices are going on to do a degree after their Apprenticeship, often paid for by their employers. This can be the ideal situation, a graduate qualification without the need to incur student debt.

When considering your future it is important to remember that employers value apprentices as highly as apprentices value their employers.

According to a business survey carried out by the LSC, more than a quarter (27%) of employers said Apprenticeships were the ideal qualification for potential employees, rating this form of vocational training higher than any other qualification.

Some of the biggest names in business, such as BT, Vodafone, Tesco, British Gas and Land Rover run successful Apprenticeship programmes and are keen advocates. British Gas, for example, has put its Apprenticeship training programme at the very heart of its business growth plans.

How long do they take?

There is no set time to complete an Apprenticeship as each sector has different requirements and every apprentice can progress at their own pace, but they typically take between one and four years to complete, depending on the type of Apprenticeship.

How do I sign up?

If you are interested in finding out more about which Apprenticeship would be right for you, please visit Remember that demand for places is high, so if you”re still considering your options, why not talk to a Connexions Direct adviser. You can get in touch with them by calling 080 800 13219.

If you”re based in Scotland go to visit for further information. If you”re in Wales, go to and those in Northern Ireland, visit

Stephen Gardner, Director of Apprenticeships, Learning and Skills Council.

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