With GCSE and A level exams creeping around the corner, you’ll soon be facing a big decision about your next step. No pressure!
You may be very happy continuing down the academic route, but as mentioned in our university or apprenticeship post, academic studies aren’t for everybody. If you are looking to start earning and learning through experience, an apprenticeship may be your best choice.
But how will you know if it’s the right move? Here are some suggestions to help you decide.
You prefer to learn through experience
Are you fed up with sitting in a classroom, and excel with roles that rely more on your practical ability? A lot of young people are given the cold shoulder for not doing well at school, but it could be because academic education is not the right type of learning for them. As Einstein so wisely said, ‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’
There’s no doubting that book learning will strengthen your awareness of an idea, but experience is the key to deeply understanding that knowledge, and applying it. I can’t recall the amount of times that I’ve crammed information for an exam the night before, and haven’t retained it in my long term memory. However, experience of a role has given me a unique insight into the background of how things work, and how I can use the skills you read about day to day.
Doing and learning feed into each other, and if you feel like you’d learn better by doing, then the sooner you start, the better.
You want to start earning money
If you are looking forward to supporting yourself financially, an apprenticeship has a minimum wage of £3.40 per hour if you are aged 16-18, or aged 19 or over but are in your first year. But keep in mind that this is the bare minimum, and it’s a common myth that all apprenticeships are paid this amount.
Depending on your sector, you could be earning around £170 to start off with, but this may go up depending on your performance and if you progress to a full time role. However, I’ve seen apprenticeships in sectors such as finance, accounting, and business admin that pay upwards of £200 per week, check out our vacancies on Not Going To Uni to find them.
Wondering what apprenticeship would suit you?
Take the quiz to find out!
The workplace environment attracts you
There’s no doubting how fun university and college can be – you’re surrounded by people your age group with similar interests, and the possibility of going out during weekdays is all too enticing.
However, it may be better for you to learn from the experienced staff around you in the workplace, who come from a range of backgrounds and experiences. This can be hugely beneficial as someone just starting out in the industry, especially if you find a mentor who will inspire you to be the best you can be.
And of course, spending time in the workplace will naturally develop all-important ‘soft-skills’ such as communication, teamwork, and time management. These are valuable skills applicable to any working environment, and look great on your CV whatever career path you choose to take.
You want to start your career early
By the time first year students finish their bachelor degree (3 years on average) you will be achieving a higher level apprenticeship, with 3 years of experience and knowledge, and perhaps even a supervisor or management position already in place.
Provided the motivation is there, progressing through the qualification levels can happen quickly, meaning you will have a foothold in your career by the time students are wondering what’s next. You will also benefit by earning a regular salary by the age of 20, and will experience how to best manage your money too.
Apprenticeships have developed a bad reputation for leaving people ‘stuck’ in a career, which is simply not true. You will pick up a range of valuable transferable skills and experiences that won’t restrict you from moving into a different industry if you fancy a career change later on.
Ultimately, the best way to decide whether or not an apprenticeship is right for you is to do your research. In order to decide, have a think about your ambitions and the potential paths to get there. You can also read other apprenticeship stories online (which you will find on our blog) to give you an idea of what an apprenticeship involves.
At the end of the day, only you can make the decision. But if you even think an apprenticeship might be right for you, there’s no harm in learning more about them.