Welcome to the fourth and final part of our life after leaving school mini-series, this week Loz Williams is talking about why apprenticeships are a great option.
An apprenticeship is the opportunity to gain a qualification whist working. It doesn’t have to be specifically in the field your workplace is in. For example, I work in a photography studio and print house (like Shackleton’s but with a studio in the back), but I did an NVQ in Customer Service! It is equivalent to a college qualification… without the college!
After finishing my A Levels at King Henry School, I attended Atrium, University of Glamorgan studying Media Production. After my first year of studying, I decided that University wasn’t for me and decided to leave and enter the world of work. University isn’t for everyone, so don’t worry if you feel you aren’t following the expected step from school! I found a job offering an apprenticeship programme, and it has been an amazing experience. These are some reasons why I am glad I followed my gut.
- Job Opportunities
Once I left Uni, I was terrified at the prospect of not being able to go into the fields I wanted without a degree. Finding a job today is not easy by any definition, and it took me four months of solidly looking for work and applying for jobs before I found one. I applied for jobs I didn’t even feel I would enjoy, just so I would have some form of income. Living on welfare was something I desperately wanted to avoid.
I can tell you from experience that any upper hand you can get in the job market is a blessing. You must do everything you can to make sure you stand out. An apprenticeship is a great way of gaining an extra qualification that will make you more appealing to potential employers.
- The Opportunity To Learn
Whilst in University, something I studied was Photography. I am passionate and excited about it, and I knew that it was something I wanted to explore as a career. My Photographic knowledge was very limited, but I knew I wanted to learn more. University is a great place to prove your worth of a subject, but I personally felt my knowledge in the field was growing at a snail’s pace, if it all.
Through a stroke of luck, I found an apprenticeship in a Photography studio and print house in Cardiff. I have now worked there for over a year, and I feel like I have learned more working in the studio than I ever would have by the end of my degree. You get taught from people who know the trade and are very knowledgeable. This is invaluable experience that you can’t get in school. It has made me a better photographer and a more confident person.
- You Can Earn As You Learn
The main thing that puts people off about additional training or courses is the inability to earn money whilst you’re doing it. The beauty of an apprenticeship is that you work while you gain your qualification. This means a steady income as well as preparing for your next stage of employment. Whether it is self-employment or a higher promotion in your current job, you will have that qualification to tell people you have worked hard and know your stuff.
Once you leave full time education, you will find that courses cost hundreds of pounds. Apprenticeships are almost always free or part funded, so my advice is to take what you can before you turn 25 and funding is limited.
- University Isn’t For Everyone
As I said before, you shouldn’t feel like University is a necessary step in order for you to get a good job. If you think University would be good for you, I suggest you try it out! You don’t have to do three years if you are unhappy. Some people love it, and some people don’t. I was one of the people who didn’t, and I have now learned that it’s ok. When I left, I felt as if I was throwing away the opportunity to work in a job I loved. This certainly wasn’t the case. A degree does NOT guarantee you a job when you leave Uni, but an apprenticeship at least gives you the experience of a job in the field whilst you are doing it. This experience is what employers seek out the most, and you will find it much easier to reach interview stage when you have it.
- You Might Gain A Job From It
Every apprenticeship is different. Some companies will employ you only while you are studying as they get paid to take on a newbie, but some companies offer the chance of full time employment once you have your qualification! I am one of the lucky ones who has secured a job now that my course is over, and it could happen for you too!
The chance to get a full time job whilst you are fresh from school is an amazing achievement that not many get to experience, so take a chance and embrace the opportunity!
- You Get A Sense Of Self-Satisfaction
Don’t get me wrong, apprenticeships are a lot of work, but when you are done you will feel AMAZING about yourself! Working whilst studying means lots of extra hours completing course work and attending training sessions, but it’s only temporary. Most apprenticeships only last a year or just over, so a small sacrifice now might get you a job you thought you could never get! (You also have epic bragging rights to future employers/friends that you worked so hard!)
Overall, I am so glad I did my apprenticeship. When I go for jobs in the future I can hold my head high knowing that I worked my butt off to get where I am. I now have an extra qualification that some people don’t, and hopefully that will help me massively in the future!