Are you starting to think about your options? Not a fan of the uni route, but want to stay in training? With all the buzz in the news about apprenticeships at the moment, you’d be perfectly normal to be unsure when it comes to making a post-18 pathway choice.
Especially given the scheme has come under fire recently after a report was released by The EDSK, which suggested that ‘half of the courses offered in England are “fake” and the scheme was “descending into farce”.
On the other side of the argument though, a spokesperson for the Department for Education told the BBC that ‘schemes are becoming “better quality”, and give people the change to work in a salary-paying, training-heavy job with long term prospects.
But we know that most of the conversation around apprenticeships is coming from think-tanks, employers and government organisations - people who are never really experiencing the reality of life as an apprentice.
And who’s right? It’s all a bit mind-boggling.
That’s why we think it’s great that BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat has taken the time to interview current apprentices to discuss what they’ve gone through and their honest feelings on the scheme. There’s no sugar coating, either.
To start, Newsbeat interviewed 24-year-old Megan, who started her journey as a Psychology student working part-time in a high street bank. Juggling studies and work was too much for her, so when an apprenticeship opportunity opened up at the bank, she jumped at the chance.
After a few rounds of interviews, Megan nabbed the job. And now, nearing the end of the scheme, she told Newsbeat how she’s had “a really good experience” so far.
They reported that ‘to complete the scheme she has to pass an “end point assessment” - which aims to treat the people on the course as professional candidates and will see her demonstrating that she has the skills required to continue doing the job.’
And that’s a pretty awesome induction into the real world of work. Before she’s even finished the scheme, Megan will have gained experience of interviews, office work and performance assessment - great assets to shout about on her CV.
She might even secure permanent work, afterwards.
Megan says that she and the other apprentices “have skills coaches who are helping us through the whole apprenticeship journey.
Also the actual qualification we’ve done is recognised everywhere. It’s not just something we’ll be able to use within the company I already work for. It’s recognised globally.”
Though the negative EDSK report claims that ‘since 2017, £1.2bn from a fund designed to support apprenticeships has been spent on jobs "offering minimal training and low wages" or on "rebadging" jobs already offered by employers as apprenticeships’, Megan argued differently.
She told Newsbeat that she’s been paid ‘above the national living wage’ since she started the scheme two years ago. But experiences seem to differ between apprentices.
Interested in the other side of the story? Head to the BBC website to read more about Megan’s time as an apprentice, and the experiences of other young apprentices.
If you’re still undecided on your future, have a look at our section on what to do if you have No Idea.
LUCY HARDING is an English Literature grad and an MA Publishing student at UCL. She is passionate about international relations and cultural diversity, having worked closely with her university’s Erasmus society to support European students. She also spent a year abroad studying at California State University: Long Beach
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