Apprenticeships are enjoying something of a renaissance, regularly being praised by politicians and reported on by the media.
The improved standard of apprenticeship schemes has coincided with the rising cost of university tuition fees, meaning many school leavers and their parents are increasingly turning their attention towards alternative options.
It's safe to say that apprenticeships are no longer considered the poor cousin to university degrees. Here's a list of our favourite reasons why you should do an apprenticeship.
Gaining experience from the word go
Often employers want to hire first jobbers who have some experience that's relevant to the role and industry, but if you haven't had a job before, how are you meant to have experience?
It's a well-known chicken and egg problem that many graduates face, because despite having their university degree, they haven't got work experience to back it up.
On an apprenticeship however, you'll be gaining valuable expertise from the very start, building up a bank of experience that you can refer to from a young age (if you became an apprentice soon after leaving school).
Employers value you
Every company is different, so it's hard to speak for all of them, but many enjoy the fact that they get to mould school leavers into their dream employees.
By taking you on at a young age and providing you with industry-specific training and development opportunities, they stand more chance of turning you into a long-term, skilled member of their business.
This is opposed to say, a graduate, who may be more likely to leave the company sooner than an apprentice.
Boost your CV in a big way
If you choose to move on after completing your apprenticeship and look for career opportunities elsewhere, the good news is that you'll have anywhere between one and four years' experience (depending on the type of programme you completed) to support you.
This will allow you to create a strong CV, which includes real-world work experience, crucial professional skills (like the ability to work in a team and manage your time effectively) and qualifications too.
These are the key qualities that recruiters look at, so you'll be in a strong career position already.
Start earning a competitive salary
Rather than paying out towards university tuition fees, you'll actually be pulling money in during an apprenticeship. This is because you're treated as an employee, meaning it's legally-required for you to earn a salary.
The national minimum wage for apprentices at the time of writing (2015) is £3.30 an hour. This is for apprentices aged between 16 and 18 years of age, or those who are 19 or older in their first year. Many companies pay their apprentices more than this rate.
It's commonly said that apprentices get to benefit from the fact that they 'earn as they learn', referring to the fact that you're essentially getting paid to develop as a person and employee. It's a win-win, for your career and your bank balance.
Other employee perks
As well as earning money, which stands out as one of the main highlights of doing an apprenticeship, you also get to benefit from other potential company perks such as the chance to take annual leave (aka holidays), take part in social events, undertake training, use subsidised services (e.g. gym memberships) and even earn bonuses. Remember though that these depend on the company.
Learn more about all things apprenticeship
If you're interested in finding out more about apprenticeships and talking to recruiters in person about what opportunities they can offer you, you should come along to What Career Live?
This great event will take place on 26th-27th February 2016 at the NEC in Birmingham and let you speak with companies based in a diverse range of industries, including retail, insurance, accounting, property, consultancy, energy and banking.
RateMyApprenticeship will also be in attendance to offer you even more advice and guidance about all of your post-school options, so we'd love to have a chat with you.
So if you're aged between 15 and 19 years of age, or are a parent, teacher or careers adviser, get in touch today to find out more. We look forward to hearing from you.
This article was written by RateMyApprenticeship, an advice website that lists thousands of company reviews and also the Top 60 Employers of school leavers.