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Dispelling the myths about apprenticeships

by Simon Briffa | 4 March 2019

The number of candidates attending university and gaining qualifications continues to grow, however the take up of apprenticeships still lags behind. But why? Apprentices can often enjoy quicker career progression and are able to learn new skills whilst earning good money.
Our Internal Talent Manager Simon Briffa looks at some of the common myths about apprenticeships and discusses why more candidates should consider this route. 

As the Internal Talent Manager at Sellick Partnership I am tasked with finding suitable candidates to work in roles across all of our seven offices. One of the roles I am often asked to fill is that of an Apprentice Administrator or Resourcing Consultant, two key roles here at Sellick Partnership and one that has a great deal of progression opportunities across the business. What has struck me since I have started looking for this type of candidate is the perception many people still have of apprentices and the negative stereotypes these types of candidates still face.

The apprenticeship route is a male dominated path – not anymore! Apprentices can go into almost any sector and more and more women are taking up the opportunity

We currently have a number of apprentices working here at Sellick Partnership, across various areas of the business including admin support, recruitment and Accounts & Payroll, three areas some of our current apprentices did not realise were readily available to them when they left education. It is evident there is not enough good quality information available to pupils and parents about apprenticeships and this is leading to misconceptions, because not enough is being done to educate people on what apprenticeship courses are out there and how to secure them.

Although it is improving there are still instances where people are not aware of the options open to them and this lack of knowledge means that many business owners and apprentices still perceive apprenticeships to be male dominated and mainly within the construction and engineering sectors.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact in 2017, around 53 percent of apprenticeship starts were women and the majority of these candidates were placed into businesses that have no connection with either construction or engineering. The traditional/manual labour apprentice opportunities are still there, but I would say the majority of roles I see advertised are office-based including accounting apprenticeships, business apprenticeships and childcare apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships are an easy way into a job – wrong! Apprentices work just as hard as anyone else, and can often progress quicker

Another common misconception I come across regularly is that apprenticeships are for people that could not get the grades and that they are an easy way to get into employment. All of our apprentices got good grades at school, college or even university, they just did not want to take the traditional route of going to university.

I find that apprenticeships are much better suited to people that prefer a hands-on approach to learning. Apprenticeships offer rigorous theoretical education alongside on-the-job experience to anyone who enjoys combining vocational and academic learning. They can also assist candidates looking to progress and spend time learning within a business or sector.

Not only do some apprenticeships offer the same qualifications as universities, many apprenticeship schemes offer degrees and foundation degrees depending on what level you choose. Apprentices are also likely to leave education with far more work experience than university graduates. This can be a huge advantage, as employers are looking for a well-rounded mix of subject knowledge and skills such as communication, time-keeping, decision-making, teamwork and priority management. Apprentices typically develop these by entering the world of work from the very beginning of their course and as a result become more attractive to employers looking for candidates with a specific set of soft and technical skills.

Apprentices don’t make any money – wrong! Apprentices can actually earn a good salary

The final point I often come up against is that of money, and the inability to earn a decent wage as an apprentice. This again is false and something that I always reassure candidates of when I speak to them about the benefits of being an apprentice. It is true that graduates generally have a higher average starting wage, but this can be off-set by paying back student loans and other debt, whereas apprentices start to earn immediately, and their wages generally increase as they gain more experience.

Apprentices are paid at least the apprenticeship national minimum wage for their age, but employers like Sellick Partnership often pay more. Apprentices also get paid for the time they spend studying in the classroom, as well as the hours worked, making it a great way of earning while learning new skills and contributing towards your professional development. By the end of an apprenticeship, candidates have got qualifications, work experience and you are in the labour market with little financial commitment on your part which puts apprentices in a really strong position.

We have had a number of apprentices successfully compete their qualification and move onto permanent roles with us, and we would love to find more ambitious apprentices to join our teams.

If you think you have what it takes, check out our current apprentice vacancies, or get in touch with Simon Briffa, our Internal Talent Manager today.