I am a Digital Marketing Apprentice working for Exeter College. After a year in this role I have heard many different views about Apprenticeships from family, friends and the general public, many of which are inaccurate, misguided or just plain untrue. The thing is, they genuinely believe these ‘facts’ to be true. This is why I decided to put out this message to anyone who may be considering, or knows someone who is considering, an Apprenticeship so I can reassure them about the value of Apprenticeships and set their minds to rest.
Let’s start with one of the biggest misconceptions: ‘Apprenticeships are only if you want to be a Bricklayer or a Hairdresser’.
Out of all the misconceptions spread about Apprenticeships, I believe this is one of the furthest from the truth. There are thousands of Apprenticeship courses out there. I am currently studying Digital Marketing which is a computer-based job also giving me the opportunity to interact with clients and utilise my creativity. My Apprenticeship is not at all what you would call a ‘blue collar’ job, but then again, what would be the problem if it was? There are Apprenticeship opportunities for everyone, in the Trades, in Retail, Manufacturing and the Service Industry. Microsoft, Google, Apple and many other blue chip companies all run Apprenticeship programmes. An Apprenticeship offers you the chance to go straight into an industry of your choosing. This means that you have access to roles in Project Management to Data Analytics, in industries from Engineering to Construction, Science, Care Work, Teaching, IT, and so much more. You can pursue a career that you love and get a qualification which you can build on and helps you progress in your career. It’s not just about joining a family business or finding something to do when you drop out of college, it’s about how to start making your way in the world – all with no huge debt to pay off at the end of it!
Misconception number two: ‘Employers don’t value Apprenticeships as much as degrees’.
With an Apprenticeship you get to earn and learn. This means that alongside your Apprenticeship you gain a qualification that is just as valid and recognised as A levels or Degrees. However, I have often found that employers actually tend to value Apprenticeships more. If you don’t need a degree to begin your career – so excluding lawyers for example – there is often no need to do a degree. With an Apprenticeship you won’t just get a qualification, you’ll also get real life work experience, as well as contacts in the industry.
The problem employers are currently facing is that graduates might gain academic knowledge, but when it comes to working in an industry, they are can lack the skills required to do the job. Simply because they do not have the day to day experience of working in a business. Graduates can even struggle to find job vacancies in the industry - which is where those contacts you make as an Apprentice become so valuable. The experiences and connections you gain as an Apprentice are invaluable and are the reason more and more employers are looking for Apprentices over graduates.
On top of this, as I previously mentioned, Apprenticeships don’t come with a massive debt attached. Apprenticeships provide an alternative career path that is completely debt-free but can take you to the same desired position in your chosen field. Apprenticeships go from Level 2 to Level 7, which scales from entry level to Apprenticeship levels that are equivalent to a Masters Degree. This gives you the opportunity to achieve the same qualification as your peers in university, without a huge debt which might take decades to repay! On top of this you also get paid, so what is there to lose?
Another popular misconception is that ‘Apprenticeships are for those who are not Academic’.
This is very similar to our first misconception and comes from a similar belief held by far too many people. Apprenticeships are simply for those who prefer to on-the-job education to a classroom-based education.
Personally, I followed school through to A Levels and would have definitely be classed as one of the more ‘geeky/academic’ students. Alongside school, I had a variety of jobs from the age of 14. I have always enjoyed working – even with jobs that were fairly monotonous and not particularly exciting.
I also did not enjoy A levels. It was difficult for me to see how I could apply my learning to the real world and I realised that if I was unhappy at this stage, then University was not going to be right for me and I needed to find another option.
Finally – after taking a gap year to revaluate my options – I found Apprenticeships! I’ve never looked back. I have thrived learning on-the-job, alongside gaining valuable knowledge from my weekly college day. Everything I have learnt in college has directly related to what I am doing in my everyday work. It has therefore been the perfect option for me and I believe can be for others.
Not only are Apprentices seen as ‘not academic’ but also from the assumption of our next misconception ‘Apprentices just make the tea and coffee’.
This is certainly one I would like to correct on behalf of all the apprentices out there working incredibly hard! In my role I have an extremely busy schedule, this can involve creating social media posts, running events, giving presentations, meeting with employers and Apprentices, creating print media and anything else the day may throw at me. I don’t have the time to make tea and coffee for myself let alone anyone else in the office.
This misconception often comes from anyone who has done work experience during school. There are a few good work experience opportunities but as a whole you are mostly left in a corner to fend for yourself, ‘making tea and coffee’ for employees when the occasion arises. As an Apprentice you are an employee, this means you will have a job to do and you will be paid to do that job. Most companies can’t afford to hire someone purely for the purpose of being the office tea maker. Your role is likely to be more exciting than you think, with many opportunities to learn and develop along the way.
The final misconception I am going to address is ‘Apprentices have no social life’.
Missing out on the ‘Uni life’ is something I myself was worried about entering into an Apprenticeship. However, I haven’t found this to be the case at all. I have less homework than I would have at university, so I can thoroughly enjoy most of my weekend, rather than having to worry about staying home and reading text books or writing essays. I have also joined a group called the ‘Young Apprentice Ambassador Network’. This is incredible as it not only provides opportunities for me to go and share my story with others, but it also provides a whole network of other Apprentices that I can meet with and socialise with. I may not be going out every single night, but I am still having an amazing time.
I have only covered the top 5 misconceptions about Apprenticeships that I hear most frequently, but there are so many out there! If you have heard anything else about Apprenticeships that you question or know for sure is incorrect, please let me know down in the comments – the weirder the better! I look forward to hearing from you all and please let me know if there is anything about Apprenticeships you would like me to cover in the future!