How apprenticeships have changed

Apprenticeships in the UK can be dated as far back as the middle ages. Then, younger people would be taught their trade under the watchful eye of a master. Over the years, the idea of an apprenticeship has involved into the scheme we now know it as today. While much has changed, the idea remains the same as apprentices still earn and learn their trade on-the-job to acquire the skills required for their chosen career path.

The traditional stereotype of apprenticeships has often been of teenagers leaving education to pursue a manual trade. Here, with Newcastle College, who offers its apprentices good guidance according to the Newcastle College Ofsted 2018 report, we take a look at the biggest changes to apprenticeships over the last decade and why it’s time to ditch those stereotypes.

Apprenticeships aren’t just for new school leavers

In England, an apprentice must be 16 or older and not in full-time education. However, there is certainly no age limit. All apprenticeships are open to people of all ages and could be a great opportunity for people to change careers or upskill in their existing careers. Even if you have a degree or other qualifications, you can still apply for an apprenticeship.

It’s not a case of working for free

Apprenticeships attract the attention of many due to the fact you earn while you learn. If you’re under 19, or over 19 and in the first year of your apprenticeship, you’ll be paid a minimum of £3.70 per hour. Over 19s must be paid the minimum wage for their age after they’ve completed their first year.

Some apprenticeships may offer a higher wage, but this depends on the company and what kind of apprenticeship you are undergoing. Plus, once you’ve completed your apprenticeship there’s a chance you may be kept on in a permanent role by the company you’ve been working for.

There are many kinds of apprenticeships

Traditionally, apprenticeships were directed to those looking to get into a manual trade, such as manufacturing or engineering. This is because these roles are very practical and require a lot of hands-on skills which are often best taught ‘on-the-job.’

However, you can actually undergo an apprenticeships across hundreds of roles. This includes professional office-based roles. Did you know you could do apprenticeships in roles such as theatre, digital marketing, web development, sales or even law?

Digital marketing agency Mediaworks offer apprenticeships to four people every year in a bid to help them gain new skills. This also gives them the opportunity to progress into full-time employment. Will Hill, now a junior planner within the company, progressed through their apprenticeship scheme in 2018. “I chose to go down the apprenticeship route because I wanted the real-world experience and to earn while I was learning,” he said. “It’s opened doors for me that would have otherwise not been possible so quick and it has put me ahead of the competition as I’ve been taught vital skills and gained experience.”

You can obviously still sign up to engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships too, but it’s great to see how wide the field has opened up to enable people with different skills and interests to pursue an apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships aren’t simply the ‘easy option’

There are several different routes you can follow when you’ve completed full-time education at the age of 16. Whether you choose to pursue A-Levels, vocational study or an apprenticeship, none of those routes are the ‘easy option’ or signify that someone isn’t clever enough to do one of the alternatives.

Studying A-Levels is a more academic and theory-based way to learn several subjects. Vocational study tends to lean towards one area of interest, so you can really focus your time and attention on something you’re passionate about. It includes a lot of hands-on learning and gaining work experience, alongside study in a college.

Another form of vocational study is an apprenticeship. It means learning while you’re actually doing the job that you’re being paid for, but you’ll also spend at least 20% of your time during an apprenticeship studying for and completing work related to your job role, which can be tricky to balance!

You can sign up for an apprenticeship at a number of levels. In 2015, degree level apprenticeships were introduced. You can now even study an apprenticeship at a level the equivalent of a master’s degree! The main thing to remember is that everybody is different and learn in different ways.

So, if you’re undecided of what you’d like to do after school, or if you’re unsure on how you can get a foot in your ideal career, consider an apprenticeship. You could get a qualification, experience and a wage while you’re doing it!

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