Apprenticeships guide for parents

12 December 2018 | Advice for Parents | Guest Author

In an ever-changing job market, helping your children understand the career advice they are given (and understanding it yourself) is a difficult task.

AllAboutSchoolLeavers’ research has found that parents are the people children depend on most for guidance when it comes to careers, but the National Apprenticeship Service research shows that as many as 90% of parents don’t feel equipped to give it in the first place.

The top three sectors that people still associate with apprenticeships are construction, electrical and plumbing—but in truth, there is much, much more available. Apprenticeships are available in everything from law, banking and finance, and engineering to human resources, arts and media.

January is fast approaching—when AllAboutSchoolLeavers’ research shows that most young people make their career decisions—so many soon-to-be school leavers will no doubt be turning to their parents for advice about their options. Here are some of the apprenticeship basics to help parents with these conversations.

What is a modern apprenticeship?

As of 2015, school leavers aged 16 must stay in education until they reach 18—when they have full control over their career ambitions. Modern apprenticeships bridge the gap between gaining an education and moving into the world of work, as well as providing opportunities for existing staff to develop their skillset.

Apprentices are essentially treated like a regular member of staff at the business—picking up on-the-job experience and skills, working as a part of the team and gaining informal advice and guidance from their peers—as well as taking time during the working week to study towards nationally recognised qualifications and work towards assignments and/or exams.

What are the advantages of this career path?

One of the biggest attractions of an apprenticeship is to ‘earn while you learn’ and get qualifications for free (rather than paying for them, as is the case with standard university degree courses).

Consider an apprenticeship somewhere between an academic course and full time work—rather than paying up to £90,000 to study for a degree, apprentices are being paid to learn new skills.

The minimum wage for apprentices currently £3.70 an hour, but will rise again in April to £3.90 per hour. However, there are opportunities in a range of sectors that pay as much as £300 a week—and employers pay more if it means attracting the right learner. Apprentices will also gain a pay increase as they progress through the apprenticeship levels and widen their skillset.

Another big draw for apprenticeships is essentially a ‘foot in the door’ at a business, which includes real-world experiences and responsibilities, encouraging pro-activeness, maturity and the ‘soft skills’ that come with experience rather than academic learning.

What qualifications can you get with an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are now available at all levels of qualification. Intermediate Apprenticeships see trainees work to Level 2—the same standard as GCSEs. Advanced Apprenticeships are Level 3—the same standard as A-levels. Higher Apprenticeships are at Level 4 and 5—equivalent to a higher education certificate, higher education diploma or a foundation degree. Finally, Degree Apprenticeships are at Levels 6 and 7, seeing trainees gain full undergraduate and postgraduate university degrees.

After an apprenticeship: what next?

A common apprenticeship myth is that learners will be trapped in the same career ‘for life’ when choosing the apprenticeship path—but there are actually a host of opportunities post-apprenticeship. A learner can progress onto the next apprenticeship level with the same company, or a different company if they wish.

Apprentices may even use their transferable skills to move into a different role entirely, with some businesses integrating programmes that make this transition much easier.

Apprentices can also attend university if they wish at any stage—doing an apprenticeship doesn’t discount them from applying for standard university degree courses, given they have the right prerequisite qualifications—such as any school leaver would be required to have.

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