With rising university fees and tough economic conditions, an increasing number of young people are considering alternative routes into employment, and apprenticeships are becoming a very popular option for employers and employees alike.
Apprenticeships are increasingly being seen as a great option for school leavers, allowing young people not only to avoid the inevitable student debt, but to earn a wage while they gain valuable qualifications and work experience.
The traditional view that apprenticeships are only for those wanting a career in non-academic professions is now outdated, and more and more companies are offering apprenticeships in industries such as IT and Accountancy.
The National Skills Academy for IT has developed the IT Gold Standard Apprenticeship, offering school leavers long-term employment prospects within the exciting, challenging and fast-paced technology sector.
Sam Green began his apprenticeship last year and he now spends alternate weeks studying at college and working. “To achieve what I wanted to achieve in IT, we were told at school that university was the only way to go,” he says. “But my apprenticeship offered me another route – and I like the idea of earning a salary while I’m studying.”
A route into finance
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales has created a new Higher Apprenticeship in Assurance/Audit in partnership with employees, aimed at those who have completed A-levels or equivalent. This work-based training programme offers a combination of on and off-the-job learning, classroom tuition and personal development.
Charlie Hughes was accepted onto the apprenticeship last year and is now working as an Audit Trainee at Accountancy and Business Advisory firm, BDO. He says: “From the multiple clients I have worked with, I have already built up a portfolio of industry experience, ranging from manufacturing to real estate and not-for-profit to well-known high street retailers.” He believes that his apprenticeship has given him the skills and industry experience that will one day help him to start his own business.
The business benefits
Not only are employees benefiting from apprenticeships, but more and more companies are realising the value of apprentices to their businesses. Jez Anderson, Head of Apprentice Development at Brathay Trust says: “The people we work with consistently tell us that their apprentices go on to be energetic, enthusiastic, valuable and productive members of their workforce. We’ve built upon our knowledge and experience, over many years, to create a highly successful personal development model. This model provides a clear and understandable framework that can be overlaid, easily, onto any organisational apprentice development scheme giving young, and their employers, the best opportunity to succeed.”
According to research from the ICM, talented people who complete Higher Apprenticeships (level 4 and above) are valued as the most desirable employees, beating graduates into second place. Of those employing apprentices, 80% say they make the workplace more productive, and 92% say they lead to a motivated and satisfied workplace.
Apprenticeships offer people a foot in the door in todays highly competitive job market, and ensure that people are gaining necessary skills and qualifications, with clear benefits to the business and to the UK economy.
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