Accessability Links

Apprenticeships and changing times…

Posted by
09 Mar 2015
Our Manchester team are currently recruiting and it is my responsibility to review a shortlist of CV's for the position of "Recruitment Consultant". What really struck me from reading through the profiles is that times have changed for both school leavers and graduates.

Firstly, I noticed that candidates with superb grades at GCSE and A Level aren't necessarily going straight to university or even at all; if they do go then it's not always in a city far from home, as was always the case when I went to university - most of us saw it as an important life step, as well as the first start in your career. I can see that with obvious increased financial pressures, being able to stay at home must be a way to relieve some of that expense, but for strong students to not be attending university at all seemed so out of kilter for drive into education we've seen over the past 15 years.

On finishing my 'O' levels (ahem....not GCSEs!) if you weren't continuing on in education you could leave school at 16 and take up a Youth Training Scheme (YTS), which basically put you on the road to a chosen trade e.g. brick laying, electrician, child minding, secretarial. This blue collar apprenticeship was all the rage and you could also approach local firms. If  you were lucky, you would be offered a sponsorship with local businesses like accountants or banks, but this was extremely rare.

Now apprenticeships have changed. There seems to be a lot more opportunity away from the blue collar sector and more towards the old school sponsorships. For the first time in decades, people are really starting to question whether or not it is worth going to university now and mounting up that debt? With increased opportunity and a growing need in the market for recruiting and shaping talent to really fit the business, I can definitely see that certain sectors will find the more cost effective apprentice as an appealing alternative.

This newer 'white collar' apprentice culture has already paid dividends in our business. Alice joined our Liverpool team last year and as an administration assistant, she has excelled in her role, worked really hard and been able to bring new skills to the team, as a result she is already working towards becoming a resourcing consultant and we hope she will have a long and successful career here. The benefits are mutual, we have provided Alice with fast-track, vocational experience and our business has benefitted from a fresh perspective, strong talent and at a reduced cost than if we had recruited a graduate into that role. And this is being recognised across all businesses even the Big 4 (PwC, KPMG, Deloitte and EY) are advertising for school leavers to start their careers in a professional services environment.

So, are employers missing out on a trick if they do not consider the new breed of white collar apprentices? In the case of Alice, yes - she is already ahead of schedule in terms of progression and a graduate would not have progressed any sooner. Times are a changing; my daughters who are 12 and 14 have already mentioned university when we've spoken about their future, and five years ago, I would honestly have seen this as the only route for them, but I can really see potential in this new path, which could be far more beneficial to them in the long run!

So, employers, parents... I would keep an open mind. School leavers can get on the career ladder earlier provided they have the right attitude and aptitude - two things that employers will always look for and will never change.

What do you think about apprenticeships? Are they a real alternative to university or is there still some way to go? Find out more about National Apprenticeships Week on their website. You can also follow Alice's progress in our apprenticeship scheme here
Add new comment
Back to Top