When I was at school and college, I felt that University was being shoved in my face as the only option for me after completing my A-levels. Although I had looked at lots of Universities online and browsed a large number of courses, I still never really warmed to the idea of going to Uni and had no definite career goals that required me to go there (Unfortunately a degree in Become a Millionaire doesn’t exist). This unsettled me, as I soon found that once you decide you don’t want to go Uni, there isn’t much in the way of support to help you look at other options.
I clearly remember paying a visit to the Careers Advisor at college, sitting down and saying ‘I don’t think University is for me, can you help me look at other avenues?’ Fast forward half an hour and there I am being forced to google Universities that do Anthropology, after being told a number of times: ‘You’ll change your mind once you’re ready’.
So, with no thanks to the Careers Advisor at a college which I shall not name… here a few reasons why I’m really glad I chose an apprenticeship as my next step after leaving college:
Build on your CV
Apprenticeships can last between 1 to 4 years and the whole time you are doing your apprenticeship, you are gaining practical and theoretical, workplace knowledge and experience that will be highly valued on your CV going forward. Being an apprentice shows that you can learn effectively whilst putting your new skills into practice.
Earn while you learn (and don’t rack up debt!)
Although I had written off University, I still wanted to continue learning. Apprentices earn a wage and work beside experienced staff to learn job-specific skills, whilst gaining a recognised qualification. Because you’re learning alongside holding a full-time job, it’s great for someone who’s keen to start in the world of work, but perhaps isn’t ready to give up learning for good after completing your GCSE’s/A-levels. There are also no tuition fees for an apprenticeship - the money you make is yours.
Kick-start your career
Because apprenticeships train you in skills that employers want, as opposed to purely classroom based training, they give you choices in your career. You have the opportunity to progress within the same company after completing your apprenticeship and explore different avenues. You may find yourself in a career you would have never originally considered. Of course there are some jobs only that are only accessible via a degree, but there are also plenty in which an apprenticeship is the perfect place to start.
They are a legitimate alternative to University
It’s a common misconception that apprenticeships are for people who ‘don’t have the grades’ to go to University. However I can confirm that being an apprentice is just as challenging and fulfilling as full-time study. Plus, going down the apprenticeship route doesn’t mean you are completely turning your back on further education. There are lots of different levels of progression with apprenticeships, some to a degree- level qualification.
I have now completed my apprenticeship and have moved on to an advanced level qualification. I’m really glad I made the decision to look beyond University an am grateful to be in a position where I am learning lots about myself and the working world.
I am excited to see what the next step will be.