From education to employment

Four reasons my engineering apprenticeship was the right choice

Bethany Preston, Engineering Apprentice, Arqiva

The current pandemic has cast a spell of uncertainty over the world of further education. The economic and social impact of COVID-19 is accelerating changes to university admissions, income and working practices, which will transform the shape of higher education in all aspects — from how it is funded to how lessons are taught and the motivations behind each application.

It’s also a reminder that university is not the only path to career success. Apprenticeship schemes are designed to support the economy and provide a modern skilled workforce – crucial for those wanting to make a contribution in the post-COVID world.

Here, Bethany Preston from Arqiva explains why students should consider an apprenticeship during these uncertain times.

There are huge misconceptions around what it takes to succeed beyond education – while university might be a viable path for some, I hope my story encourages young people to explore the alternative routes into the industry.

1. I developed a valuable skill set from day dot

With an apprenticeship, you’re given hands-on training from day one, so it’s not a long wait to put your skills into practice. For me, there was no better way to gain confidence in the workplace. You don’t always get on-the-job training as a student, but as an Apprentice at Arqiva I was able to sharpen my skills as I worked. Developing my technical and functional knowledge of broadcast at such an early stage in my career set me up for success later on: now I contribute to diverse projects that give me a real buzz because millions of TV viewers depend on my work.

2. I earned as I learned and curbed the costs associated with university

Completing an apprenticeship does not mean you miss out on gaining qualifications. In fact, at Arqiva I was able to study, and gain qualifications. Thanks to my engineering apprenticeship I didn’t have to wait until I was qualified to start earning. Unfortunately, people often have misconceptions around certain career paths and students are often discouraged from going down vocational routes, even though they’re a cheaper way to full-time employment. Negative perceptions around apprenticeships among students, teachers and parents have been found to damage uptake and more needs to be done to challenge views about the suitability of different apprenticeships across genders.

3. It allowed me to network

Many apprenticeships work on a rotational basis, rather than placing you in a permanent team, so you get an insight into a range of departments during your programme. Essentially, this means that you can build strong relationships with key contacts across the business. What’s more, it gives you a good indication of how different departments work and what their needs are. This helps you have a fantastic grounding in an organisation as you progress in your career and makes it easier to work collaboratively with colleagues in the future – something that’s integral to the job I do today.

4. I took a small step towards closing the STEM skills gap

The UK engineering sector is currently suffering from a serious skills shortage, exacerbated by insufficient numbers of young people choosing this career path – Engineering UK has highlighted that the country needs 1.8 million new engineers by 2025. As the industry strives to attract people into the industry in order to close this gap, graduate apprentice engineers like me will be in high demand from employers. Work hard at it and when it comes to your future, the world will be your oyster.

Bethany Preston, Engineering Apprentice, Arqiva

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