Charlie Mullins, founder of Pimlico Plumbers wrote recently about apprenticeships in the Business Leader magazine. In a piece entitled, Apprenticeships are the only way to hit the bullseye to solve skills crisis, he asserted his belief that apprenticeships should not be regarded as inferior to other further or higher education routes.
He said: “The fact that the Government believes that the lifetime skills guarantee will help target local needs in sectors including construction, digital, clean energy and manufacturing, just goes to prove that apprenticeships are the better choice. These sectors have either been built on apprenticeships or are prime for using the vocational route.”
Mr Mullins is himself a former apprentice and these days the well-known owner of a multimillion pound plumbing business. His view is: “The apprenticeship model of practical, workplace-based training mixed with college or training provider-led education, is proven to be an effective way of getting people into work.”
And the UK needs people in work to help the economy recovery after the devastating effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. Yet it’s so much more than that.
Stats stack up
Apprenticeships not only enhance the employability of young people; they also address the burning need to solve the skills gap conundrums that Charlie Mullins refers to and which exist in multiple sectors. Apprenticeship schemes provide a sustained home-grown workforce.
Many people who join a business at the start of their career are more likely to stick around for a while, moving to different jobs within the same company. Government research supports this, showing that 64% of apprentices stay with the same employer while 85% stay in employment.
What’s more, a third of all apprentices receive a promotion within a year of finishing and in their lifetime can expect to earn £150k more than their peers without an apprenticeship.
Apprentices are seen by many businesses as a solid, sustainable and renewable long-term investment in a strong team of employees for the continuing health and profitability of a business.
The on and off-the-job learning, development of industry specific and transferable skills and behaviours, and recognised accreditations apprentices achieve are another key benefit for all.
Becoming an Apprentice
The case appears to be made, so how do you become an apprentice?
There are some basic requirements before you proceed – you have to be at least 16-years-old; you have to have some qualifications – entry requirements may vary, but usually it’s five GCSEs at grade 9-4/A* to C, including English and mathematics; and you will have to show that you have the ability to complete the programme and that depends on the specification set by training providers, employers and job descriptions – again that can vary.
There are also several levels. Level 2 apprenticeships, often known as an intermediate level, are equivalent to five GCSE passes.
After completing a Level 2 apprenticeship, you could move into full time employment in the company you completed your apprenticeship with; apply for jobs related to your training; or progress to a higher level apprenticeship with your existing employer or a new one.
Bottom line is, armed with a qualification you have unlocked the next level to your progression – Advanced Level 3, equivalent to A Levels. These are in turn followed by Higher Levels 4- 6, equivalent to a foundation degree; and then 6 and 7, equivalent to a BA or MA degree.
An apprenticeship usually takes between one and three years to complete (although can rise to six depending on which you choose, what level it is and your previous experience) and are made up of three parts — all completed on the job, online, or in a classroom.
The first thing to remember is that as well as offering training, an apprenticeship is a paid job. You’ll need to apply for it in the same way you would apply for a job.
According to UCAS, more than 150,000 employers are currently offering apprenticeships in more than 200,000 locations, covering more than 170 industries across the UK, from horticulture to hairdressing, from animal care to engineering construction, so it’s important that you focus on areas that you are interested in, are passionate about and will be committed to for a number of years.
Each apprenticeship trains you for a specific job, so it’s important to find out as much as you can about that job, as well as the career and progression route your apprenticeship could take you on. You’ll be earning while you qualify and will also gain good work and training experience, which will support your applications for other jobs.
Once the area is identified you need to research the apprenticeship thoroughly to check it’s what you want and that you have the right attributes and qualifications to gain that place.
So what’s keeping you? Say “yes” to new adventures and believe something wonderful will happen.
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