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6 apprenticeship myths busted

08 Jan
If you’re starting out in the world of work, there will inevitably be pressure for you to go on to higher education, or get a full-time job, rather than do an apprenticeship. However, the number of apprentices in the UK has been on the rise in recent years, and for good reason: despite the number of misconceptions about it, being an apprentice is an invaluable way to get a foot on the ladder, learn valuable skills and even get paid for your time.

With almost half a million people starting an apprenticeship last year, there’s never been a better time to get involved- but many people leave school without properly understanding what they are, and that misunderstanding could see them miss out on a great opportunity. Here are some of the biggest myths about being an apprentice, and what the truth really is.

Myth 1: Apprenticeships are only for young people

Many people think that apprenticeships are only for people who are fresh out of high school, or college. While that can be true, people under 24 actually make up a surprisingly small proportion of apprentices: last year, under 24-year-olds only counted for 25% of new starters, and people within the 19-24 age bracket made up 29%. With so many different levels of apprenticeship- some going up to degree equivalent- doing an apprenticeship is actually a great way to breathe fresh life into your career or return to the workforce after some time away, not just if you’re a young professional. With all the benefits that being an apprentice offers, you’d be silly to miss out.

Myth 2: Apprenticeships are only for people who didn’t do well at school

This outdated viewpoint comes from the time that apprentices were taken on by craftsmen and taught practical subjects like metalwork or carpentry. Today, a wide variety of employers take the training and development of their apprentices very seriously- especially given the increasing popularity of apprenticeships- and you’ll be expected to do exams, complete homework or coursework, and have regular assessments with your manager to monitor your progress. It’s hard work, but it’ll pay off in new skills and job satisfaction!

Myth 3: Apprenticeships won’t get you qualifications

Though apprenticeships are seen by some as a way to escape higher education, nearly a fifth of advanced apprentices will complete a degree at some point during their course. In fact, some of them will even qualify for their future job- such as being an accountant- faster than a graduate. When you combine that with the lack of student fees, apprenticeships are actually a great way to balance practical learning with gaining a respected qualification.

 Even if you don’t want to gain a degree, you can find a qualification that works for you, and that will be recognised across your chosen industry. For instance, if you’ve yet to complete your GCSEs, you can sit an NVQ or Key Skills Level 2, which will give you the equivalent of five GCSE passes; similarly, sitting an NVQ Level 3, OCR National, or a BTEC will give you the equivalent of two A-level passes. It all depends on how far you want to go: the choice is yours.

Myth 4: Apprenticeships are only available for manual jobs

There is a dizzying range of apprenticeships in the market for the curious professional. If you want a practical career, then you can become a mechanic or a builder; however, if you want to branch out and pursue your dream of being an engineer or lawyer, for example, without the high university costs, then there are also multiple opportunities out there for you to seize. Many career paths that you once had to go to university to do are now opening up: you can apprentice to be an accountant, if you want to, or you could go into interior or graphic design. The options are limitless, and it’s up to you to make the most of them.

Myth 5: Apprenticeships don’t pay well

Though you will most likely be paid minimum wage for the start of your career, it’s also down to the employer to decide how much you’ll be paid, and some will pay you a decent wage as you work your way up the ranks. Doing an apprenticeship also has the massive benefit of letting you earn whilst you learn, so you’ll complete your qualifications in a better financial position than many of your counterparts who might just have finished university. In addition, the qualifications you gain as an apprentice will have a massive impact on your earnings: doing an advanced apprenticeship could improve your lifetime earnings by between £77-117,000, whilst a high apprenticeship can even net you an extra £150,000. Apprentices are well paid- and the payoff later in your career can be massive.

Myth 6: We’re not hiring

Not all apprenticeships start in September, and at DST Careers, we’re always on the lookout for talented professionals to start and develop their career with us, whatever the time of year or age. Take the first step today and browse our early careers opportunities- or why not take a look at our blog for more insights and tips for starting an apprenticeship?
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