Years ago, Apprenticeships were thought of as a poor relation to a degree. That's changed. Now Apprenticeships are viewed as a valid alternative to university education — a dynamic way to learn practical skills that can enhance long-term career prospects.

Nick White is Events Manager with The Job Fair Network, a company which specialises in organising job fairs across the country. In the last 18 months, it has taken on three Business Administration apprentices including Sean Heppinstall, winner of two Apprenticeship awards from Great Yarmouth College, who now has a permanent role with the company.

“There are huge benefits to Apprenticeships,” says White. “For a start, apprentices earn while they learn; and that's attractive because, where university or further education involves taking on student debt, an Apprenticeship means you're being paid for doing a job. Plus, apprentices work in a low-pressure learning environment surrounded and supported by experienced people who pass on their skills and give them the opportunity to do the job themselves.”

Employment

Being taught in real work environment is hugely valuable, says White. “The opportunities it brings are much richer,” he says. “And because apprentices are mentored, they gain job experience without feeling isolated. Also, it's a real confidence boost to develop a skill. It increases an individual's feeling of worth.”

There is another big benefit to Apprenticeships notes White, pointing to the experience of Sean Heppinstall: it can lead to long-term employment. “If you can impress your employer during your Apprenticeship, there's a good chance that they will give you a permanent position,” he says. “Look at it from a company's point of view: if they've spent a year or more training someone, why would they let them go somewhere else? So for the apprentice, it's a great foot in the door.”

The fact is that employers take Apprenticeships seriously — and, these days, it's a message that is getting across to job-seekers. “Young people need to know that employers value what they bring to the table,” says White. “One of the benefits for a firm is that an apprentice can look at its business processes with a fresh pair of eyes and bring a new perspective. That's terrifically invigorating — and can ultimately transform the way a business operates.”

TOP FIVE BENEFITS

  • It's the first step on your career path
  • Be paid while you learn a skill
  • Avoid student debt
  • Learn practical skills in a low-pressure environment, supported by experts
  • Grow your confidence