There comes an unfortunate time in our lives when we realise that not all of us will be signed to major record labels or Premiership football clubs. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a right to a rewarding career. Last month, I was lucky enough to spend a day as an apprentice carpenter working at a training centre in Wembley. Not only was I learning new skills, I was also putting those skills to good use, making a contribution to an exciting and innovative new building project.
The construction industry is one of many industries that offer Apprenticeships to young people – giving you on-the-job training as well as letting you work towards a recognised qualification. There are over 255,000 young people doing apprenticeships across the country, specialising in everything from environmental conservation and furniture manufacture to business administration and health and social care. They are earning while they learn as well – on average, around £137 per week.
On an Apprenticeship, employers pay your wages and give you training which enables you to achieve a National Vocational Qualification. And with support from a learning provider, you will also learn new skills that will help you get ahead on the jobs market, covering things like team work, communication skills and problem solving. More companies are finding that offering Apprenticeships is a good way of developing a highly motivated, skilled workforce – from major employers such as British Gas and Honda to small businesses offering highly specialised services.
This is not by any means an easy option. Working and studying at the same time can be tough. But as most apprentices find out, the rewards of doing an Apprenticeship are more than worth the effort. Like Louise Bunch, Advanced Apprenticeship finalist in the Apprenticeship Awards 2005. After leaving school at 16, she decided to pursue an Apprenticeship in Engineering and Design. She’s now hoping to build on the qualifications and valuable experience she’s already gained while working with a leading packaging design firm, by studying for a degree in engineering. Or Elton Rami, another Apprenticeship Awards finalist. He’s currently doing an Apprenticeship in horticulture, gaining practical experience in landscaping and getting involved in exciting projects to restore Victorian gardens. One of the things that he likes most about his career is that by working in local parks, he is improving a service that the public really value.
One of the great things about doing an Apprenticeship is that it allows you to put the practical skills you learn to good use as you learn them. You’ll be given real responsibilities and the support you need to develop – it can be a genuine opportunity to make a recognised contribution to a company or an organisation early in your career.
Apprenticeships offer you a structured career programme that gives you not only specialist skills, but also important transferable skills that can help get you started on the jobs market. You get training and you’ll be working towards a recognised qualification, gaining valuable experience and often working for some of the UK’s leading employers. And throughout your training, you’re able to earn as well. Doing an Apprenticeship is an excellent opportunity to access high quality vocational training in an area that interests you. It’s a genuine step towards a sustainable and exciting career.
For more information about doing an Apprenticeship, go to www.apprenticeships.org.uk