The apprenticeship brand has taken a hit over the last decade, with society adopting the view that A-Levels followed by university was the only credible pathway for young people entering the workplace. At last, this is beginning to change, with formal schemes including the Apprenticeship Levy and National Apprenticeship Week helping to raise the profile of apprenticeships and enable schools, colleges and employers to recognise the huge value they have to offer. In fact, last year alone saw 742,000 people in the UK participate in apprenticeship programmes. What’s more, over half of those who began an apprenticeship in 2018/2019 were women.
However, with employers still receiving twice as many graduate applications as they do apprenticeship applications, there is clearly still work to be done in overcoming the deep-rooted misconceptions and repairing the reputation of apprenticeships. In order for this to happen, it is vital that employers, educators and students are aware of the huge benefits that apprenticeships can offer, both at entry level and later on in a career.
For students who have been through GCSEs and then A-Levels, it can feel as though they are on an educational conveyor belt, with no choice but to go to university. However, while this traditional educational route works well for many, that doesn’t mean it’s the only path worth considering for students. By only offering young people a rigid path that relies heavily on exam success, a large number of students who don’t naturally excel in academia are being set up to fail. So, it is crucial that young people are aware of the alternative further education options that are equally as credible to employers.
A rigid approach to education also risks stifling entrepreneurism and creativity. Many of the world’s most successful, inspirational individuals are disruptors in some way, as opposed to conformers. It is vital that less conventional education paths are championed in order for this individual and creative thinking to be nurtured and encouraged.
Unlike students at university, apprentices are provided with real-life work experience while working towards a qualification, something that is invaluable to employers. Apprentices qualify equipped with a host of industry knowledge and experiences, enabling them to hit the ground running at work. This is particularly valuable for young people that have their eyes set firmly on the world of work in a specific sector.
Contrary to misconceptions, apprenticeships can offer a gateway to successful careers across a variety of industries, many of which are not traditionally associated with this route. In fact, the sectors offering the largest number of apprenticeships in the UK last year were business administration and law, with almost a third of all new apprentices working across these industries.
In addition to offering a vital pathway into the world of work for young people, apprentices can also help organisations achieve their strategic goals. Apprenticeship schemes offer a fantastic way to attract and engage the best and brightest young talent into the workforce, which is vital for succession planning. Apprenticeships also often attract a different type of candidate than a graduate scheme might, offering employers a fantastic opportunity to build a diverse, eclectic and successful team.
Organisations are also increasingly recognising the value of using high-level apprenticeship schemes to upskill their existing staff. In fact, 44 per cent of apprenticeships started in 2018/19 were at an advanced level. This is a great way for employers to invest in their team and demonstrates the valuable role apprenticeships can play in developing staff at all stages of their career, as well as those entering the world of work for the first time.
Although huge progress has been made to improve the apprenticeship brand over the last few years, there is still work to be done to create real sea change when it comes to attitudes towards apprenticeships and other, less traditional routes into the workplace.
At MyKindaFuture, we’re passionate about providing all young people with choice, and are confident that if education providers, employers and the government continue to work together to celebrate the importance of apprenticeships, we will continue to see a rise in the number of people opting to undertake these valuable schemes.
For more information about MyKindaFuture, visit https://www.mykindafuture.com